April 24, 2024
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April 24, 2024
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ZAKA Event Attended by Hundreds in Teaneck Despite Outside Protests

Energized and inspired by the huge turnout of Teaneck residents and outsiders to the pro-Israel/anti-Palestinian rally outside of Cong. Bnai Yeshurun on Monday night, April 1, over 500 people streamed into the New Main sanctuary for a program featuring the work of ZAKA, the highly touted Israeli Search and Rescue Organization. ZAKA is involved daily in the loftiest mitzvah of chesed shel emet, bestowing honorable burial upon those who have passed from the world through catastrophe and disaster.

Once within the sanctuary, the assembled were focused on the stirring program, tuning out the outside, with ongoing blasting of Jewish music drowning out the shouts of insulting epithets by the approximately 75 pro-Palestinian protesters.

Rabbi Elliot Schrier, morah d’atra of Bnai Yeshurun, introduced the evening by noting the united face of the gathering which included Teaneck rabbis from all streams, including Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky of Temple Beth Shalom. Rabbi Schrier singled out town officials including Mayor Pagan, whom he thanked for “sharing in our pain.” He lauded “Jewish champions” Teaneck Council members Karen Organ, Hillary Goldberg and Mendy Schwartz, for their dedication to the community, as well as the newly created BCJAC for their tireless efforts in organizing this evening.

ZAKA’s Simcha Greinerman

Appreciation was expressed to Jason Shames of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey for his partnership and kudos were offered to the security volunteers and many law enforcement individuals who ensured the security of the event. Finally, Rabbi Schrier expressed great appreciation on behalf of the community to Chaim Kiss, gabbai and second vice president of Bnai Yeshurun, for facilitating the featuring of ZAKA’s sacred work to the Teaneck community.

In introducing Simcha Greinerman, deputy commander of ZAKA, Rabbi Schrier noted that the work of ZAKA highlights the fifth of the six “knocks at the door” that Rav Soloveichik outlined in his famous 1956 “Kol Dodi Dofek” essay. This fifth knock invokes that “Jewish blood is not cheap.” What better testimony can be attributed to this declaration than the work of ZAKA for the past 30 plus years in ensuring a dignified and honorable burial for every body part of every Jewish victim of tragedy and terror? Rabbi Schrier has personally visited the brutally targeted Kfar Aza twice with Greinerman on his missions to Israel these past six months.

Greinerman, 47, has been a volunteer with ZAKA for 32 years, fulfilling his IDF service through this affiliation. A father of five residing in Kiryat Sefer and a carpenter by trade, he trains aspiring young apprentices and sends them onto successful enterprises. Recently appointed deputy commander of ZAKA, Greinerman has been on the front lines around the clock since Oct. 7, leading the over 4,000 ZAKA volunteers in saving lives, honoring the deceased and providing answers to families desperately seeking news of their loved ones. ZAKA volunteers have braved horrific scenes of bloodshed at which they have assisted in bringing hundreds of victims to a respectful burial by collecting and identifying all body parts and human remains, a truly gruesome but necessary task.

In trying to relate the extent of the victims of the atrocities of Oct. 7, Greinerman offered a tragic but telling comparison. On April 20, 2021, the Jewish world was shocked by the reports of a stampede which took the lives of 45 Jewish souls at Meron during Lag B’Omer celebrations. A ZAKA truck was summoned to the location and 14 bodies were piled into the truck’s cabin to be taken to the Shura Army Base in preparation for proper burial. From 7 a.m.-7 p.m on Thursday, Oct. 12, 72 bodies at a time were loaded onto ZAKA trucks headed to Shura for identification and honorable burial. While protecting the ZAKA volunteers as they respectfully handled the bodies, two soldiers, a father, 54, and his son, 19, were targeted by terrorists.

For 16 weeks, ZAKA volunteers have been collecting the remains of bodies from southern kibbutzim, gathering ashes from the remains of bodies in over 2,000 burned cars, and scrubbing the floors and ceilings of houses for remnants of blood and tissue. Every day new teams of 80 volunteers are assigned to these tasks as the trauma from these activities sets in quickly and deeply.

Greinerman attested that in his 32 years of service to ZAKA he has never witnessed such brutality and inhumanity. An image he shared that has continued to haunt him is the untouched birthday cake on a small table in a kibbutz residence around which six interconnected burnt bodies were discovered.

Since its official founding in 1995, ZAKA has responded to over 20 major catastrophes in Israel and around the world including the Columbia space shuttle disaster, the 9/11 terror attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the Mumbai attacks, the Nepal earthquake, the Guatemala volcano eruption, and COVID. ZAKA services include their Israeli and international search and rescue units, minority unit, jet ski unit, diver’s unit, K9 unit, jeep unit, and rapid rescue unit, among others.

Greinerman shared the backstory of this Teaneck event with the audience. On Thursday, Nov. 30, Greinerman received a call from none other than Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan. He requested that Greinerman fly to the U.S. to address the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, Dec. 4, about the sexual abuse that was perpetrated upon the victims of Oct. 7 by Hamas terrorists. Through “protekzia,” his expired passport was renewed and Greinerman found himself at the 7:30 a.m. Shacharit minyan at Bnai Yeshurun on Dec. 4. Hearing of his invitation to speak at the U.N. that day, Chaim Kiss, gabbai of the minyan and an active member of the Teaneck chevra kadisha, arranged to have Greinerman’s U.N. presentation videoed and started the process of arranging for the ZAKA program at Bnai Yeshurun.

Greinerman expressed his appreciation to the Teaneck community for its outpouring of support in the past and especially now when the needs are so great and increasing daily. “Four years worth of supplies were exhausted just in the five days following the Oct. 7 massacre. ZAKA is facing severe shortages in supplies and an urgent need for new storage facilities. Urgently needed are response motorcycles, ambulances and operating vehicles. Medical supplies, safety equipment and logistic warehouses are in short supply. We also need more volunteers for our special units. Most importantly, we need additional and continual funding.”

To contribute generously to the sacred work of ZAKA, visit www.zakaworld.org. To contact the local ZAKA offices email [email protected] or call (601) 460-1220. Tax ID (ein 46-0567613).

Pearl Markovitz is senior staff writer at The Jewish Link.

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