Code 239447
PublishDate: Thursday, September 9, 2021 15:45

Afghanistan’s last Jew leaves after Taliban takeover

The last member of Afghanistan’s Jewish community has left the country.

Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_Zebulon Simentov, who lived in a dilapidated synagogue in Kabul, kept kosher and prayed in Hebrew, endured decades of war as the country’s centuries-old Jewish community rapidly dwindled.

Moti Kahana, an -American businessman who runs a private security group that organized the evacuation, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the 62-year-old and 29 of his neighbors, nearly all of them women and children, have been taken to a “neighboring country.”

Kahana said Simentov, who had lived under Taliban rule before, was not worried about them. But Kahana warned him that he was at risk of being kidnapped or killed by the far more radical Islamic State group ().

He said Simentov’s neighbors also pressed him to leave, so that their children could join him on the bus.

said his group is reaching out to U.S. and to find a permanent home for Simentov, whose estranged wife and children live in Israel.

Hebrew manuscripts found in caves in northern Afghanistan indicate a thriving Jewish community existed there at least 1,000 years ago. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan was home to some 40,000 Jews, many of them Persian Jews who had fled forced conversion in neighboring Iran.

The community’s decline began with an exodus to Israel after its creation in 1948.

In an interview with The Associated Press in 2009, Simentov said the last Jewish families left after the 1979 Soviet invasion.

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