The Last Jew in Afghanistan

Agence France-Presse reports:

Around two decades ago, there were still about 20 Afghan Jewish families living in Kabul, although all were from Herat — the largest city in northwestern Afghanistan near the border with Iran.
Through the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, the subsequent civil war and the Taliban’s 1996-2001 regime, all went to Israel or moved to neighbouring former Soviet republics — undoing a Jewish presence built up from the seventh century.
Only [Zebulon] Simentov has been left behind, becoming by default the guardian of Kabul’s empty synagogue.

Evidently he had a Sefer Torah, but it was stolen by someone from the Taliban who thought they could get a good price for it. He got a heter (rabbinic permission) to ritually slaughter his own meat. It does not sound like an easy life. I wonder if anyone has a Sefer Torah that they’d be able to donate to him, for starters.
This is my favorite part of the article…. of course the only Jew in the country has the shul in which he won’t daven. (OK, it’s more like a sanctuary/chapel debate, but still):

Adjoining this room is the bare-walled “small synagogue” for men, where he prefers to pray.
Simentov, approaching 50, dislikes the “big synagogue” across the corridor — another large and dirty room in which stands only a platform traditionally reserved for the rabbi.

Full story.

3 thoughts on “The Last Jew in Afghanistan

  1. while i had the honor and privilege of learning at the northwoods kollel at ramah wisconsin, the resident theatre company there, the northwoods theatre company, wrote and performed a play by the name of “the last jew in kabul,” a fabulated tale of the story related above. it was excellent, and i encourage you all to look into it.

  2. A few years ago there were still two Jews left in Afghanistan, both living in that same shul in Kabul. And, of course, predictably enough the two of them did not get along. At all. In fact, if I remember correctly, they didn’t even speak.

  3. I’m wondering why he stays, especially if his wife and children are in Israel. He’s more attached to Afghanistan than he is to them?

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