The family: My name is Avin Gangte. I am a member of the Benei Menashe community hailing from the north-eastern states of Manipur and Mizoram in India. I am married to Hagit who is also from the same community and we have five children.
Background: We made aliya in April 1995 and we came straight to Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif. Our destination was prearranged with the local administration by Rabbi Eliahu Avichail, who discovered the Benei Menashe and brought us to Eretz Yisrael.
Both my wife and I hold Master’s Degrees in history from the University of Manipur. In Gush Katif I worked as a gardener and my wife worked in a children’s day care center. We lived in Gush Katif for ten years, until the expulsion.
Today: After four months in a hotel in Jerusalem, we came to Nitzan, where most of the Neve Dekalim people have chosen to resettle. We have been living in a caravilla (a special caravan) up to now. We have received a plot of land here and be’ezrat Hashem hope to build a permanent home soon.
Our house – then: Our house wasn’t much but it was “home”- with green lawns in front, plenty of sand dunes all around and a splendid view of the Mediterranean Sea in the back. It was a duplex that we shared with my parents.
Day of uprooting from Neve Dekalim: We left on the night of the sixteenth of August 2005. The day the soldiers arrived to pull us out was… like a bad dream; a nightmare; soldiers all over, residents and volunteers trying to block their entry, people crying and shouting, groups of people praying, struggles here and there and what not. It will be in our memories for a long time to come, if not forever.
What we left behind: We left behind the place where we began life in Eretz Yisrael. In Gush Katif we left behind a wonderful life, a life “away from the maddening crowd” and many happy childhood memories (three of our children were born there.)
Feelings toward the State: As for the government, the pullout was supposed to stop rocket attacks and other Arab violence; but with what’s going on since then – the nonstop firings, the continued violence, I hope they have started to realize the mistake and the foolishness of it all.
What happened to your community? The majority of the Benei Menashe community that was in Neve Dekalim are now living in Nitzan. A small group has moved to the north.
Something good that’s happened since: The one good thing I can see from the disengagement is that the government, in trying to wipe out Gush Katif has created several “Gush Katifs” all over the country.