Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Ex-Zaka leader Yehuda Meshi-Zahav attempts suicide amid molestation probe

(JTA) — Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, a former leader of the Zaka emergency response organization in Israel, is in critical condition after trying to take his own life Thursday amid allegations that he had sexually assaulted minors.

Meshi-Zahav, 61, was rushed to the hospital in Jerusalem with life-threatening injuries, but medical personnel succeeded in stabilizing his condition, Ynet reported.

A paramedic who arrived on the scene in Givat Zeev, near Jerusalem, said the aftermath was “a shocking scene,” the report said. Meshi-Zahav’s son called emergency services.

Last month, Haaretz published an article alleging that Meshi-Zahav, a prominent rabbi, had molested multiple boys, girls and women – a claim he has categorically denied. The police launched a criminal investigation into the allegations following the Haaretz report.

The most recent incident occurred in 2011, according to the alleged victim, a young woman from haredi Orthodox circles.

Meshi-Zahav, last month was named a laureate of the Israel Prize, Israel’s highest civilian distinction, for his work to build bridges between secular and religious Israelis. He told Haaretz that their expose on him “included vague, anonymous claims that go back decades. Let me say immediately that they are baseless.”

Israel’s Channel 12 is scheduled to air a documentary soon on the allegations against Meshi-Zahav.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.