May 14, 2021


According to Jewish law, when someone dies, all body parts of the deceased must be collected for burial. This can get especially complicated and messy when those very corpses are killed in gory events like terrorist inflicted bomb blasts. 

Thankfully, in Israel there is one organization with the stomach to do just that – ZAKA.

ZAKA is Israel’s primary rescue and recovery volunteer organization. With thousands of volunteers on call 24/7, ZAKA are Israel’s first-responders to all terror attacks, accidents and other disasters.

The organization’s volunteers also work in specialized search and rescue units on both land and sea. ZAKA is also a UN-recognized organization. This means they are often called upon to assist with mass casualty incidents worldwide.  

But in the era of Coronavirus, ZAKA must now adapt their life-saving activity to the current reality. This means that while their volunteers are out collecting human remains, they have to wear cumbersome protective gear in an effort to ensure that they don’t get infected with coronavirus.

But that’s not all. 

Because while most of Israel’s ultra-orthodox communities are complying with the Ministry of Health’s directives, there are some sects who are not cooperating and are unknowingly endangering themselves as well as their community as a whole.

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ZAKA is now leading the effort to educate those very communities of the risks involved with contracting and spreading the novel coronavirus, the importance of self-quarantine as well as social distancing. This life-saving information is being broadcast by ZAKA throughout those communities in vehicles using loudspeakers as many of them don’t have smart-phones or internet access. 

On Shabbat (the Sabbath), ZAKA deployed 32 of their own ambulances in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods nationwide, in response to a request from Israel’s Health Ministry.

The ambulances were used to locate and inform people in the ultra-Orthodox community when they were identified as being in contact with a confirmed Coronavirus patient and to ensure that they self-quarantine immediately.

ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, himself an ultra-orthodox Jew, is outspoken in his support for the Health Ministry’s directives, stressing the urgency of the biblical mandate to preserve life at all costs in accordance with Deuteronomy 4:15, “For your own sake, therefore, be most careful—since you saw no shape when Hashem your God spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire.” 

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Below is a Breaking Israel News interview with ZAKA’s International Director, David Rose