ZAKA Delegation Rescues 8 Students Alive From Collapsed Building In Haiti Over Shabbos


zaka-volunteers-in-haitiThere was little menuchah this Shabbos for the ZAKA International Rescue Unit delegation in Haiti. The six man ZAKA delegation (four from Israel and two from Mexico) arrived in Haiti aboard a Mexican air force Hercules, immediately after completing their work in recovery and identification in the Mexico City helicopter crash.

On arrival, the ZAKA delegation was dispatched to the collapsed 8-storey university building where cries could be heard from the trapped students. After hours of work around the clock and working with rescue equipment provided by the Mexican military, the ZAKA volunteers succeeded in pulling eight students alive from the rubble, 38 hours after the building collapsed in the earthquake.

In a disturbing email that Mati Goldstein, head of the ZAKA International Rescue Unit delegation managed to send to the ZAKA headquarters in Yerushalayim, he writes, “Everywhere, the acrid smell of bodies hangs in the air. It’s just like the stories we are told of the Holocaust – thousands of bodies everywhere. You have to understand that the situation is true madness, and the more time passes, there are more and more bodies, in numbers that cannot be grasped. It is beyond comprehension.”

Amid the stench and chaos, the ZAKA delegation took time out to daven – a surreal sight of frum men wrapped in taleisim standing on the collapsed buildings. Many locals sat quietly in the rubble, staring at the men. At the end of the davening, they crowded around the delegation and kissed the taleisim.

Due to the breakdown in communications in Haiti, the ZAKA delegation which arrived from Mexico was unable to make contact before Shabbos with the Israeli Home Front Command delegation that is now in Haiti.

{Yair Israel}


  1. This is a true Kiddush HaShem. People see that we care for everyone who is b’Tzelem Elokim and not just our own, so the world can say, as the Gentile did to Shimon ben Shatach, “Blessed is the Torah and he who studies the Torah.” Am Yisroel are Rachamim bnei Rachamim.

  2. “Were they working on Shabbos???”

    Err, yes it would appear that they were. Have you never heard of pikuach nefesh mevatel Shabbos”, Ehrliche Yid?

  3. It doesn’t make sense. If the survivors were trapped 38 hours as said in the article and the quake occurred on Tuesday at almost 5:00 pm add to that 38 hours and you arrive to thursday morning at 7:00 am when the students were freed. How does one come to the conclusion that that is shabbos ?