Chesed Shel Emet (True Virtue)
“His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him the same day.” (Deuteronomy 21:23)
The members of ZAKA’s Chesed Shel Emet units have a unique mission: to honor the dead and ensure a full Jewish burial for those who meet a sudden death. ZAKA is the only organization authorized by the Israel Police to handle any and every incident of sudden death, be it a traffic accidents, murder, suicide, terror attacks, mass casualty incidents or natural disasters.
ZAKA volunteers learn and practice body identification in accordance with the latest professional verification techniques and Jewish law. In the course of their work, the volunteers use the most advanced equipment in order to identify the bodies and body parts beyond any doubt, thereby avoiding any unnecessary distress to the families involved. By virtue of their unique experience, ZAKA volunteers also operate in similar circumstances around the world, helping Jews or Israelis wherever they may be caught up in natural disasters or mass casualty incidents.
Rapid Rescue Motorcycle Unit
ZAKA paramedics, on call every hour of every day and deployed around the country, are ready to offer immediate emergency assistance in the shortest possible response time (often even before the arrival of the first ambulance). The Rapid Rescue Motorcycle Unit was established by ZAKA volunteers to deal with the many disasters and tragedies that require a faster response time in order to save lives. The unit numbers hundreds of ZAKA volunteers with specially-equipped motorcycles. In many cases, these volunteers are often the first to arrive on the scene, thanks to their dispersion throughout the country. In any medical emergency, time is of the essence, with how the emergency is handled in the first four minutes often making the difference between life and death.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18)
The ZAKA Minorities Unit is comprised of members of Israel’s minorities, representatives of the country’s different communities, including the Druze in the north and the Bedouins in the south. Other communities represented in the unit include Circassian, Christian, and Muslim. The training course is prepared and given in close cooperation with respective religious and lay leaders. Community leaders have expressed satisfaction with this initiative that allows the ZAKA Minorities Unit the opportunity to deal with their deceased according to the community’s own laws and customs relating to a religious burial.
International Rescue Unit
This specially trained team of volunteer paramedics and search and rescue professionals are on call 24/7 ready to respond to major international mass casualty incidents. ZAKA’s assistance at major international terror attacks led the United Nations in 2005 to recognize ZAKA as an international volunteer humanitarian organization. The ZAKA International Rescue Unit is held in high esteem by emergency forces around the world and is often called upon by international forces to provide assistance, consultation and offer advice.
Search and Rescue Units
You shall not stand by while your fellow’s blood is shed. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:16)
These units have helped save countless lives by reacting in a speedy and professional manner with relevant equipment. Hundreds of ZAKA volunteers can be deployed in a short amount of time for missing person searches across the country. These specialty units include the divers unit, the Sapir jet-ski unit, the jeep unit and the canine unit, each of which carry the necessary equipment for a missing person search.
In 2009, the ZAKA Jeep Unit was founded. Dozens of volunteers who own 4X4 vehicles have joined the unit, assisting in the searches for missing persons in forests, deserts and other inaccessible terrain.
The ZAKA Canine Unit includes trained dog-handlers and hand-picked search dogs that assist in dozens of search operation, including searching for missing senior citizens and Alzheimer sufferers. A search and rescue dog can identify the scent of a person in distress or a dead person from a considerable distance.
The Climbing and Rappelling Unit includes volunteers who have undergone specialist training to offer immediate rescue in natural and urban disasters.
The ZAKA Divers Unit is always prepared with diving equipment for immediate response in the search for people missing at sea or those in distress at sea. This unit is deployed from Haifa in the North to Eilat in the South and includes men, women, ex-Navy Commanders, doctors and businesspeople.
Three years after the establishment of the Divers Unit, the Sapir Jet-Ski Unit was established to provide additional assistance and logistical backup for ZAKA’s maritime rescue operations. The jet-skis that transport equipment to the site of the search have greatly enhanced the effectiveness and speed of search operations in the water.