Zaka director Yehuda Meshi-Zahav has come a long way from his days as the Operations Officer for the Eida Chareidis, leading shabbos protests on Shmuel HaNavi Street and pelting passing motorists with rocks. No one would have believed that he would one day light an Independence Day torch in a state ceremony, perhaps the highlight of the modern State of Israel.
Since assuming the leadership slot of Zaka, he has become an icon, earning international acclaim, and now, for many, a symbol of tolerance and change. His son Ariel recently entered the IDF and has since taken his oath as a Golani Brigade combat soldier. According to some neighbors in Meah Shearim, they are not surprised. As far as they are concerned, the young man has left the chareidi fold a long time ago, with some adding “so has his father”.
The fact that Meshi-Zahav announced to the media that he accepts his son’s decision sends another message, albeit unwanted by many chareidim, but a message that many others in Israel are all too willing to embrace.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)