ZAKA volunteers in Pittsburgh waiting to enter and treat the bodies at the Etz Haim synagogue, Philadephia
Jerusalem, October 28, 2018 – ZAKA International Rescue Unit Chief Officer Mati Goldstein was in constant contact overnight with the local Pittsburgh community and ZAKA Commander in Pittsburgh Rabbi Elisar Adom, following the horrific shooting attack in the Etz Haim synagogue on Shabbat morning (October 27). Goldstein briefed them on how to act in the aftermath of this mass casualty incident, in particular how to treat the scene and prepare the bodies for burial, in cooperation with the local emergency forces and FBI and in accordance with Jewish law.
Israel-born Rabbi Elisar Admon, who was a ZAKA volunteer in Israel before moving to the USA, noted that the scene reminded him of the 2008 Mercaz Harav terror attack in Jerusalem, in which the attacker chased after his victims throughout the building.
Speaking to Army Radio earlier today, Admon commented that this was the first terror attack of its kind in the region. “We are in shock…The situation will change now, but we will not be broken, we are the Jewish people and we will continue to live.”
Admon continued that Shabbat has been a particularly difficult time, people did not know what to do. “My own children are traumatized by what happened”.
ZAKA Search and Rescue USA volunteers, in cooperation with the FBI at the scene of the shooting attack, have completed a first visit at the scene, making an initial identification of the bodies. The ZAKA volunteers await permission to enter the Etz Haim synagogue, clear the scene of human remains and spilled blood and treat the bodies for burial. in accordance with Jewish law.
ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav: “We grieve together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh and pray for the full and speedy recovery of the wounded. ZAKA Search and Rescue USA volunteers are on the ground, waiting to enter and treat the bodies of the murdered, which are still where they fell. Our volunteers will also work with the community to offer assistance in all matters related to this tragic and horrific attack.”