ZAKA Founder Meshi-Zahav Resigns Following Serious Allegations, Gives Up Prestigious Israel Prize

ZAKA chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav (ZAKA Twitter)

The following is a Statement from the ZAKA Search and Rescue Organization. ZAKA requested that YWN publish it:

The management of the ZAKA Search and Rescue organization, its members and volunteers received with shock and astonishment the testimonies allegedly related to its chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav that were published Thursday by Haaretz.

The organization’s management has confidence in the official investigative authorities who will examine in the most professional way those matters that require investigation.

The organization, which has been volunteering for 32 years to identify victims of terror, road accidents and disasters in Israel and around the world, has become a symbol of unity and bringing people together. ZAKA’s yellow vests and white overalls connect between religious and secular, Israelis from all parts of the country who work together for one goal – chesed shel emet (ultimate lovingkindness)

ZAKA’s mission extends beyond any one individual or consideration, and the organization will continue to carry out its work for the benefit of the citizens of Israel, the Jewish people and anyone in need with dedication and loyalty.

Copied below is the text of a letter sent today (March 12, 2021) to ZAKA volunteers by Yehuda Meshi-Zahav:

“I am an 11th generation Jerusalemite, the great-grandson and grandson of those who broke through the walls of Jerusalem.” This is what I declared 18 years ago at the time when I was honored with lighting a torch at the official Israel Independence Day celebrations “for the glory of the State of Israel”. I did not stand there alone on Mount Herzl. Thousands of volunteers in the organization that I had the honor to establish and direct stood there with me, while the people of Israel applauded them. And even now I am not alone.

An entire organization that has broken down walls and built bridges, and has taught love and understanding between sectors and communities stands on its merit. And me, what am I? All in all, I am a faithful messenger of these volunteers, men and women, from different ethnic communities and religions, ZAKA volunteers, who carry out their sacred work and are so dear to me.

Out of concern for the holy organization that I built with my two hands and a deep recognition of its essential nature for the fabric of society in our country, I draw the obvious conclusion from this great storm, even when these stories are unfounded, gossip and the settling of scores against me.

Firstly, I need an enormous amount of mental strength for this struggle and look with anguish at the damage that may be caused as a result to this important organization, its activities and 4,000 dedicated volunteers.

As a first step, I request to relinquish the honor that has been bestowed upon me by the decision to award me the Israel Prize in a sign of recognition for the activities of the organization and for the activities of every single volunteer.

Secondly, the situation in which I find myself, requires me to take time out from my responsibilities as chairman until the cloud has been removed.”

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. Reply to poster #1, 147.

    Well Rav Meshi Zahav is Chareidi so, by association, he is automatically guilty whereas Cuomo is a Democrat and is automatically innocent even if proven guilty!

  2. Shame on you for publishing this. In 2021, we certainly know how these things can easily be fabricated. I think it’s terribly wrong to spread such terrible things about a frum man, he is certainly innoccent until proven guilty. Proven guilty- not by Haaretz.

    Moderators Note: You mean shame on ZAKA for asking that this statement be published?

  3. Whatever happens, whatever he did or didn’t do, ZAKA is an incredible organization staffed by selfless, dedicated and compassionate people.

    Please don’t abandon your support of ZAKA – if anything, increase it!

    No, I have absolutely no connection to ZAKA in any way. But its members inspire me.

  4. I guarantee I know Meshi Zahav better than you. If you had any brains, you would not believe or not-believe, you would with-hold any belief until further notice.

  5. These allegations are horrendous. And the sad reality is that although the great rabbi may be totally innocent of the allegations, and will ultimately be cleared, his name will have been besmirched and dragged through the mud. Sad. There is no winner in these situations.

  6. Unfortunately, even the great and prestigious chessed organisation ZAKA has its jealous enemies.
    The criminal justice system about these matters is totally corrupt; anyone can turn up and make some allegations and that’s it, the accused goes to prison without a shroud of evidence.

  7. Dear editor,

    In response to my earlier comment and your response- if that is the case, I totally understand your publishing it, my apologies! Just seemed like just another piece of “news” which didn’t necessarily belong being published- at this point. I am not one to bury my head in the sand. I am sure that allegations MAY be true but from a Halachic standpoint, we have no right to make such assumptions until truly proven guilty. And sadly, today, it seems like you get a couple of women to badmouth someone and the verdict is in. No proof needed, just accusations. Seems a little crazy already. And my guess is in Israel where the justice system is already more screwed up than in the US, it’s even easier to pass a verdict on such accusations.

  8. I hope these allegations are proven false.

    Having said that, it seems that God is bringing swift justice to Hareidi bashers. Coumo and MeshiZahav both seem to be having similar downfalls.

  9. the moral of the story is never trust anyone no matter who he or she is with your kids. usually these people don’t look like bad people, they could be a relative or an authority figure. beware and be careful.

  10. To our great sorrow, this does not seem to be a case of a “few women” who are trumping up charges. There are well over 20 years of abuse to tens if not hundreds of people- to women, young children (boys and girls) – and the stories that are finally coming out are absolutely horrific. He was someone whose power and prestige and yetzer got the best of him. My heart goes out only to those whose lives were so deeply affected by his disgraceful behavior. The Israeli news is much more explicit with the details of his exploits and while we all wish that someone in his position in such a fine organization would not have fallen to such a state, this seems to indeed be the case. Just returning the prize he received seems to be an acknowledgement on his part that the cat’s finally out of the bag and he’s in deep waters. Hashem Yerachem aleinu.

  11. i happen to know the organization MAGEN, feel feel to contact them yourself, they are the ones who accomplished this, it’s not gossip, i know someone both on the board and an employee and it’s true. i think it’s fair to say that an INT organization that fights sex abuse wouldn’t put out gossip. if you do feel that way, perhaps you should reconsider.