Sunday morning (Israeli time) the phones in the ZAKA headquarters rang and on the phone was a Chabad shliach from Chennai, India who reported the death of a 56 year old Israeli citizen who passed away in Chennai. He explained that the niftar has no known family, and the local coroner’s office won’t release the body without the consent of the next-of-kin, and is requesting ZAKA’s assistance in finding next-of-kin in Israel.
ZAKA activated their resources in Israel, pulled all strings but to no avail. After further researching the matter ZAKA discovered that the deceased also carried U.S. citizenship. The ZAKA representative on the case contacted their new American partners at Chesed Shel Emes for help.
On Sunday morning (U.S. time) when Chesed Shel Emes Headquarters received the call, Rabbi Zvi Gluck, Director of Government relations for Chesed shel Emes sprung into action and immediately phoned his contacts in the U.S. State Dept. who, after receiving the proper approvals , provided valuable assistance in locating next of kin. Chesed Shel Emes then assigned two volunteers to work the phones. After several hours of investigation, numerous phone calls, interviews spanning Oregon, Arizona, Illinois, Florida, and Hawaii, a first cousin was finally located in Hawaii. He then directed them to a brother who lives in Florida.
The conference call was made between Chesed Shel Emes, the brother, and the American Consulate in Chennai, documents were signed, permission was given, and the body was to be released the next morning.
The case looked all but settled when the setbacks began. The first setback was when the local coroner’s office decided to do an autopsy. The U.S. State Dept. was contacted again, and after numerous hours of work by their foreign affairs office, the U.S. Consulate in Chennai, and the Israeli Consulate in Mumbai, who really showed respect, care and compassion for this cause, the autopsy was successfully prevented, and we hereby express our deepest appreciation for their extraordinary efforts.
The next setback came when a close friend of his in India tried to get the body donated for scientific purposes. However due to the great work of the dedicated volunteers who located the blood relatives and legal next-of-kin, that request was overridden.
A Jew who would probably never have gotten a kosher, Jewish and timely burial, received a timely burial in India, kosher to the highest standards, all made possible by the recent agreement between Chesed Shel Emes and ZAKA, and the amazing work of the previously mentioned government agencies.
The actual levaya and burial was made by the Jewish community and Chabad shaliach of Kochin.