Following a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, synagogue on Saturday in which 11 people were killed and six injured, volunteers from Israeli groups stepped up to help.
ZAKA International Rescue Unit Chief Officer Mati Goldstein reported in Jerusalem that he was in phone contact with ZAKA Commander in Pittsburgh Rabbi Elisar Adom overnight.
Adom, who was an active ZAKA volunteer in Israel before moving to America, gathered ZAKA Search and Rescue USA volunteers at the Tree of Life synagogue to recover human remains and prepare them for a proper burial, in cooperation with the local emergency forces and FBI and in accordance with Jewish law.
“We grieve together with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh and pray for the full and speedy recovery of the wounded,” said ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav in Jerusalem. “Our volunteers will also work with the community to offer assistance in all matters related to this tragic and horrific attack.”
This morning, four volunteer mental health practitioners from United Hatzalah of Israel’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit took off for Pittsburgh, in cooperation with the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh. Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett also went to the scene to offer support.
“We are heading to Pittsburgh in order to treat those who witnessed the attack and anyone else from the community — congregations, schools, families and individuals — who feel the need for our assistance after the terrible tragedy that took place yesterday,” said Director of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit Miriam Ballin.
“We will be utilizing techniques and tools that we have developed here in Israel and have proven to be highly successful in assisting those who have suffered from similar incidents here. Additionally, we hope that our work will give the community a sense of solidarity on behalf of the people of Israel.”
Dream Doctors sent three experienced therapeutic clowns from Israel to offer support to the Pittsburgh community, and Israel Trauma Coalition sent a team to train social workers, school psychologists, teachers, administrators and youth counselors.