Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer praised the ZAKA humanitarian volunteer organization
for its contribution to Israeli society during the keynote address at a recent tribute evening celebrating a decade of operations for the ZAKA International Rescue Unit.
“ZAKA has answered all those who say that it is impossible to engage and involve the ultra-Orthodox community in the workforce. You are an example of the contribution that the ultra-Orthodox make to everyday Israeli society," Fischer said.
He also noted that “ZAKA is able to include segments from across the full and complex spectrum of Israeli society, from all over the country, Jews and non-Jews. It is highly organized, and its commanders and volunteers conduct themselves with the most professional of standards.”
Over 350 guests from Israel
and overseas attended the event, which was hosted by the President of the ZAKA International Board of Directors Michael Mirilashvili and ZAKA Chairman and Founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav.
VIPs included Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman,
Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz and Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.
US Ambassador to Israel Mr. Dan Shapiro accepted the first ZAKA Shield of Humanity award on behalf of President Barack Obama and the people of the United States, in appreciation of his country’s respect for the supreme value of human life.
Speaking in fluent Hebrew, the ambassador spoke of ZAKA’s contribution to the recovery efforts after incidents such as the 9/11 terror attack, the Columbia space shuttle disaster and Hurricane Katrina.
The Ambassador noted that “ZAKA has an outstanding reputation in the States – we admire your high levels of professionalism and we know we can trust and rely on you in times of crisis."
ZAKA Shield of Humanity certificates were also presented to senior representatives from the embassies of Britain, Russian Federation and Japan. The shield bears the inscription “In appreciation of your respect for the supreme value of human life; for your understanding of the equality of man, regardless of religion, race or creed; for your sensitivity in causing the light of dignity to shine at the darkest of times.”
At the end of the evening, 12 businessmen from USA, Russia, UK, Italy, Hong Kong, Mexico and Ukraine joined the ZAKA International Board of Directors.
Founded in 1995 by Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, ZAKA is Israel’s dominant non-governmental lifesaving, rescue and recovery organization, with over 1500 volunteers deployed around the country, on call 24/7 to respond to any terror attack, disaster or accident.
The UN-recognized ZAKA International Rescue Unit, headquartered in Jerusalem, now has eleven trained and equipped organic units around the world, ready and able to offer professional assistance in the fastest possible response time.
These units are based in the US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, London and Manchester.