BNEI BRAK (VINnews) — ZAKA volunteer Chaim Rechnitzer, one of the founders of the Tel Aviv section of the ZAKA organization which is devoted to maintaining the honor of the dead, collapsed and died while performing Taharah on a deceased person at the Maayanei Hayeshua hospital on Saturday night. Rechnitzer (74), who was also a member of the Chevra Kadisha, came to the hospital to help perform the Taharah for a Jew who passed away during Shabbos but collapsed and was pronounced dead at the scene.
ZAKA Tel Aviv released a statement that “we are shocked and pained at the death of a most special member of the Chevra Kadisha, ZAKA volunteer Rav Chaim Rechnitzer Zichrono L’Bracha, who died during his holy work of preparing and purifying a deceased person at the Maayanei Hayeshua hospital in Bnei Brak.”
The rabbi of ZAKA Tel Aviv, Rav Yaakov Rojet, eulogized Rabbi Rechnitzer, who was buried the same night, stating that he was “one of the first ZAKA volunteers even before the name ZAKA was used, and did his true acts of loving kindness humbly as well as being an honest and worthy person.
“This is a true Misas Neshika (heavenly kiss of death) while performing an act of kindness, so appropriate for him to pass away in such fashion while doing acts of kindness, we must learn from him to do everything in accordance with Halacha.”
The director of ZAKA Tel Aviv, Zvi Chasid, mentioned that Rechnitzer was a “paragon and example for all the volunteers. He had so much energy and activeness, like a young man. Just last Wednesday at a ZAKA board meeting he suggested that we should bring younger people into the organization, which turned out to be a prophetic statement.”
In this 1994 clip taken after a bus bombing in Israel, Rechnitzer explained to Israeli journalist Ayala Chasson that the work of ZAKA is to ensure that every part of a person is buried after his death.