Bakery Operations in Sendai Underway

by Rabbi Mendy Sudakevitch (Chabad of Japan)
and Rabbi Mordechai Avtzon (Chabad of Asia)

Dateline Hong Kong, Erev Shabbat/Erev Purim 5771:
How is bread made in Japan? Usually it’s not a newsworthy process. Things have changed, though, this week.

As an organization at the forefront of relief in Japan, we received word that bread is in dire shortage in Sendai – one of the hardest hit cities. We gave Roy Somech, the representative of the Chabad Relief Initiative in Sendai, the go ahead to see what can be done.

Roy arranged with a bakery to provide bread but there was no flour to be bought in Sendai. Calls were placed to Tokyo but there, too, nothing materialized. Finally, flour was purchased near Osaka. With extreme fuel shortages in northern Japan, the truckers refused to make the trip. Roy convinced the owner of the bakery to travel to Osaka with him. With the main highways closed, a trip that that should have taken 12 hours turned into a 24 hour journey.

55 hours later the flour finally arrived in Sendai, bread is currently being baked and distributed free of charge. Given the current situation we anticipate operating the bakery on an exclusive humanitarian basis for at least one week. The daily production will cost us approximately US$ 15,000.

JHelp, the Japan Emergency Team has identified 3 more areas in which we can focus our activity.

1. The most pressing need at this time is a motor-home and several satellite phones as many of the volunteers who are risking their lives have not been contacted for several days due to poor telecommunications. The motor-home will become their command center throughout the Sendai area.

The estimated cost for renting and transporting this facility and the phones is US$ 40,000 for the first month.

2. We have MRE, self heating meals available for purchase and have been granted verbal approval from the Office of the Prime Minister to clear them through Japan Customs. Once written approval is granted, we plan on delivering them in shipments of 10,000 meals each.

3. We are desperately looking to purchase bottled drinking water within reasonable distance to Sendai.

We thank you for your support and look forward to keeping you updated as to the progress of the Jewish Relief effort in Japan.

To make a contribution, please visit our website

Asian Jewish Life and eJewish Philanthropy are partnering together, leveraging our global contacts, to bring first-hand information on how the Jewish/Israeli world is responding on the ground in the aftermath of the Japanese quake. For more, see Japanese earthquake updates.