Emergency Food Drive Pressed in Manipur, Mizoram
(September 24) A total of ten tons of rice have been distributed to over 200 B’nei Menashe families in the latest stage of Degel Menashe’s emergency Covid-19 food relief campaign in Northeast India. The operation, completed on the eve of Rosh Hashana, assured these families food security for the period of the Jewish holidays.
In Manipur, most of the aid recipients came from the Churachandpur area, where the state’s B’nei Menashe community is concentrated. Under the auspices of the B’nei Menashe Council, the rice was made available at the Beit Shalom synagogue, the city’s largest, which has also served as a food depot in the past. B’nei Menashe living in outlying villages, such as Phalbung, Gamgiphai, and Saikul, had the rice trucked to them, while in Imphal, the state’s capital, it was made available by local dealers.
“To our regret,” our Newsletter was told by Ohaliav Haokip, the B’nei Menashe Council’s general secretary, “not as many families took advantage of our food distribution as in previous rounds. Shavei Israel has stepped up its threats to withhold Aliyah from those accepting aid from Degel Menashe, and with a new group of B’nei Menashe reported to leave for Israel in the near future, this intimidation has succeeded in many cases. It’s sad to see people in need of food afraid to accept what is offered them, even though it comes with no strings attached. But 168 families did respond, and it’s gratifying to know that they were able to spend this year’s holidays without fear of privation.”
In Mizoram, where the rice was distributed by an ad hoc relief committee, the situation was similar. In the capital of Aizawl, where Shavei Israel’s influence is strongest, 18 families took the offered aid. Outside of it, another 22 responded, including eight from the southern town of Pukpui, whose B’nei Menashe community has long been ignored by Shavei Israel. Degel Menashe’s food drive was an opportunity to renew contact with it.