Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, former ZAKA head, attempts suicide

In March, a police investigation was officially launched, after an initial report opened a floodgate of abusive accusations against him, from men, women, and teenage boys and girls of all ages.

ZAKA Special Units Director Haim Otmezgin claimed Thursday morning that many of the allegations against Meshi-Zahav came from sources who had tried to blackmail him. “There needed to be a trial; people didn’t have to base things on rumors,” Otmezgin said, adding that he himself had witnessed threats that the former ZAKA head had received: “If you don’t agree to let us fundraise for the organization, we will bury you and destroy your family.”The man who threatened Meshi-Zahav, according to Otmezgin, was attempting to fundraise for ZAKA, but pocket some of the money himself. Meshi-Zahav apparently knew of the scheme, and was threatened for it. “Whoever knows Meshi-Zahav knows that he could never hurt a soul,” he insisted, “I’ve known him for 25 years.” Channel 12 was preparing an in-depth investigative article for the Thursday night news about the sexual assault allegations facing Meshi-Zahav when the news broke of his attempted suicide, telling The Jerusalem Post that it has yet to make a decision as to whether or not it will run the program as planned.Rabbi Yuval Sherlow, head of the Ethics Center at the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, called on Channel 12 to cancel the program in light of today’s developments.”Investigations about injustices are an essential action designed to increase the moral path of society,” he said. “But the broadcasting of Uvda [Fact] tonight, while the person the interrogation is about is fighting for his life, would be an immoral and insensitive step, and therefore should not be broadcast.”Following the investigation, Meshi-Zahav stepped down as head of the organization he had founded in 1989 and forfeited the Israel Prize he was set to receive this year.Two months ago, in January, he lost his parents to the coronavirus, just a month after having lost his brother to the same disease.He lost his father, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Meshi-Zahav, while sitting shiva (the weeklong mourning period) for his mother Sara Zisl Meshi-Zahav, who had passed away only three days prior – all this within 30 days of the passing of his brother, Moshe.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the local suicide hotline:

Israel: 1201 (dial 10 for English)
US: 1-800-273-8255

UK: 116-123

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