1. #1
    Sr. Information Officer
    NJFFSA16's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    25 NW of the GW

    Post Terrorist Act! Notify EMS, Police, Fire, Rescue and the Body Collectors

    Quite possibly, the worst job in the world....

    JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The words "terrorist attack" on his
    pager are enough to send Shlomo Brom scrambling for his rubber
    gloves, tweezers and a spatula before rushing off to join the
    rescue effort at the scene of yet another suicide bombing.
    Brom is one of 604 ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who volunteer
    their time to painstakingly collect every piece of human flesh
    and mop up every last drop of blood after Palestinian suicide
    Brom's pager has rung incessantly since Palestinian
    militants escalated their suicide bombing campaign after the
    outbreak of an uprising for independence two years ago.
    Dressed in their trademark yellow vests, the volunteers of
    the Israeli group known as Zaka have become a fixture at the
    scenes of suicide bombings.
    Armed with tweezers, they climb ladders to collect scraps
    of flesh from street lamps or trees or scrape fragments of
    internal organs and congealed blood off the ground.
    A Hebrew acronym for Identification of Disaster Victims,
    Zaka is comprised of ultra-religious men committed to ensuring
    that as much of the human body of every victim is buried in
    accordance with Jewish law.
    "I can't take the main part of a person's body and leave
    the rest there as if it is wreckage. It's part of a human
    being," said Brom from the Zaka burial society's Jerusalem
    office. "The Bible says man is created in the image of God."
    The bodies of the victims are often intermingled with the
    remains of the Palestinian bomber who blew up in their midst.
    But in death everyone is treated with the same reverence by the
    Zaka volunteers -- victim and bomber.
    "You have to pick up a baby's head and the pacifier is
    still in its mouth... And then two minutes later you have to
    clean up the body of the terrorist, the one who came and saw
    the baby and blew himself up," said Brom with a shudder.
    "But the Bible wants us to treat them equally so we must
    also respect the terrorist's body which is very difficult. It's
    not up to us to judge. It's up to God."
    Not only do Brom and his fellow Zaka volunteers collect and
    label each piece of human remains at the scene of the attack
    but they later reassemble them to ensure that as much of each
    victim's body is handed over to the family for burial.
    The grisly task often involves poring through bags of human
    remains in search of missing limbs or fingers and large chunks
    of unidentifiable flesh.
    It is one of the most gruesome jobs in the world.

    Brom has seen it all.
    But his most harrowing experience to date was attending the
    scene of a suicide bombing in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of
    Jerusalem in March in which nine people, including five
    children, were killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber.
    "The bodies were so mutilated that we had to do DNA test on
    all 10 to identify them ... because the suicide bomber got in
    the middle of them and blew himself up," said Brom.
    A resident of the Beit Yisrael neighborhood where the
    bombing took place, Brom was the first person at the scene of
    the blast. He remembers administering first aid to the dying
    until the ambulances arrived.
    But his most horrific memory was collecting the mutilated
    remains of a baby girl from her pram.
    "Since the Palestinian Intifada (uprising) began, we don't
    have time to have nightmares," said Brom.
    Brom is the only unmarried Zaka volunteer, all of whom come
    from the close-knit ultra-Orthodox world. Usually married men
    are recruited as they are believed to be more emotionally
    mature to deal with the trauma.
    The side-by-side cooperation between the ultra-religious
    Zaka volunteers and secular medics, police and other officials
    is rare in Israel where tension between secular Jews and
    tight-knit Orthodox Jews is the norm.
    Not surprisingly, 80 percent of volunteers drop out of Zaka
    before they can complete the course, in which they learn
    forensic techniques for collecting body parts, first aid and
    undergo psychological training.
    It is not uncommon that a volunteer will arrive at his
    first death scene, take one look and run away.
    Zaka, which in 2001 was voted the United Nations volunteer
    organization of the year, also attends the scenes of car
    accidents, suicides and murders and almost every other kind of
    unnatural death.

    When all they can find are piles of mangled flesh at bomb
    scenes, the Zaka volunteers work with the families to identify
    their loved ones from clothes or jewelry they were wearing, or
    scars and other markings that can be used for identification.
    "Everybody wants his entire body to be buried, with all the
    body parts. He wants to get buried as he was born," said
    U.S.-born Yossi Landau, the owner of an international freight
    business and a Zaka volunteer.
    Landau once had to identify a baby killed by a Palestinian
    suicide bomber in an attack on a Jerusalem pizzeria in August
    2001 by a piece of flesh found on the baby's pacifier. It was
    the only thing that remained of the child.
    The pieces of flesh that cannot be identified are buried in
    a mass grave along with the blood-soaked clothes used to mop up
    the blood and the stained glove of the rescue workers. Every
    last scrap of blood-stained matter from the scene is buried.
    "If you don't have respect for the dead, you don't have
    respect for life," said Landau.
    After attending the scene of a suicide bombing, the
    volunteers assemble for a debriefing to share their experiences
    so they will not take their trauma home to their families.
    "One of the very hard parts in Zaka is the psychology,"
    said Brom. "There is no training that ensures you'll be able to
    deal with a baby that has been torn into 10 pieces...(But)
    there are a few things that make it easy. You have to work with
    the mind and not emotion," he said.
    Some volunteers become so used to the technical nature of
    their work that they are able to block out the horror.
    But the psychological barrier comes down the next day when
    they open the newspaper and see the life stories and
    photographs of the victims in happier times plastered across
    its pages.
    "Instead of the smiling picture, I see a piece of finger
    which was used to identify that person or I see their ear with
    an earring the family confirmed belonged to her," said Brom.
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

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    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  2. #2
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    jaybird210's Avatar
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    Jun 2000
    911 N. Sycamore St. Yep, that's really our address.


    Regardless of your political beliefs, you have to agree that there is a special place in heaven (or whatever afterlife you believe in) for these people....
    Omnis Cedo Domus


  3. #3
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    EastKyFF's Avatar
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    Feb 2001
    Nippa, KY



  4. #4
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    Nov 2001


    You're right Jaybird, these people deserve special status. To overcome years of acrimony, religious prejudice and just plain out revulsion over such an act, and treat the terrorist with respect and reverence is indeed a saintly calling.

    Members of Zaka, you have my utmost respect.

  5. #5
    FlyingKiwi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    New Zealand


    That is selfless unconditional love.

    An outstanding group of individuals.
    Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
    Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    TCFire's Avatar
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    Jan 2001
    Lockport, New York


    The worst job in the world?....I can't think of anything that would be much worse. Might be one thing to have to do this at a plane crash or other mass casualty, but how often does that happen in one country? These people do it constantly! Tip of the leather and a prayer to Zaka.

  7. #7
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    Apr 2000


    If I'm not mistaken there might be an offshoot of Zaka in NYC. I remember a few years ago there was a multiple shooting in a heavily Jewish neighborhood- the news report showed several Ultra Orthodox- looking men in reflective vests picking through the scene with gloves and such. Anybody from NYC to confirm that?

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    StayBack500FT's Avatar
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    Apr 2002


    Amazing...simply amazing.
    May we never forget our fallen, worldwide.

    I.A.C.O.J. Safety/Traffic Control Officer


    "Who's Who Among American Teachers" - 2005, 2006 Honoree

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