By MUHAMMAD FAROOQ and JOSEPH KRAUSS, Related Press
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The final member of Afghanistan’s Jewish neighborhood has left the nation.
Zebulon Simentov, who lived in a dilapidated synagogue in Kabul, stored kosher and prayed in Hebrew, endured many years of battle because the nation’s centuries-old Jewish neighborhood quickly dwindled. However the Taliban takeover final month appears to have been the final straw.
Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American businessman who runs a personal safety group that organized the evacuation, informed The Related Press on Wednesday that the 62-year-old Simentov and 29 of his neighbors, almost all of them ladies and kids, have been taken to a “neighboring nation.”
Kahana stated Simentov, who had lived below Taliban rule earlier than, was not frightened about them. However Kahana warned him that he was vulnerable to being kidnapped or killed by the much more radical Islamic State group. He stated Simentov’s neighbors additionally pressed him to depart, in order that their youngsters might be a part of him on the bus out.
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Israel’s Kan public broadcaster aired footage of the evacuation, displaying a bus full of individuals touring throughout what seemed to be Afghanistan, with all of the faces blurred apart from Simentov’s.
They joined an exodus of tens of hundreds of Afghans who’ve fled for the reason that Taliban swept throughout the nation final month. The U.S. and its allies organized a large airlift within the closing days of the 20-year-war, however officers acknowledged that as much as 200 Americans, in addition to hundreds of Afghans who had aided the battle effort, had been left behind.
Kahana stated his group is reaching out to U.S. and Israeli authorities to discover a everlasting residence for Simentov, whose estranged spouse and kids reside in Israel. For years, Simentov refused to grant his spouse a divorce below Jewish regulation, which might open him as much as authorized repercussions in Israel. Kahana stated he persuaded him to grant the divorce and has drawn up the paperwork.
“That was two weeks of being a shrink, a psychiatrist, speaking to him like 10 occasions a day, and his neighbor on the similar time to translate,” Kahana stated.
Hebrew manuscripts present in caves in northern Afghanistan point out a thriving Jewish neighborhood existed there at the very least 1,000 years in the past. Within the late nineteenth century, Afghanistan was residence to some 40,000 Jews, lots of them Persian Jews who had fled compelled conversion in neighboring Iran. The neighborhood’s decline started with an exodus to Israel after its creation in 1948.
In an interview with The Related Press in 2009, Simentov stated the final Jewish households left after the 1979 Soviet invasion.
For a number of years he shared the synagogue constructing with the nation’s solely different Jew, Isaak Levi, however they despised one another and feuded through the Taliban’s earlier rule from 1996 to 2001.
At one level, Levi accused Simentov of theft and spying. and Simentov countered by accusing Levi of renting rooms to prostitutes, an allegation he denied, The New York Instances reported in 2002. The Taliban arrested each males and beat them, and so they confiscated the synagogue’s historical Torah scroll, which went lacking after the Taliban had been pushed from energy within the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
When his 80-year-old housemate died in 2005, Simentov stated he was completely satisfied to be rid of him.
Reporters who visited Simentov through the years — and paid the exorbitant charges he charged for interviews — discovered a portly man keen on whiskey, who stored a pet partridge and watched Afghan TV. He noticed Jewish dietary restrictions and ran a kebab store.
Born within the western metropolis of Herat in 1959, he all the time insisted Afghanistan was residence.
Samir Khan, a neighbor who runs a small grocery retailer and had recognized Simentov for the final 10 years, stated he disappeared a couple of week and a half in the past. Khan stated he solely realized of Simentov’s departure when he noticed it on social media.
The Taliban, like different Islamic militant teams, are hostile to Israel however tolerated the nation’s miniscule Jewish neighborhood throughout their earlier reign. Apart from the feud, the one different time they got here knocking was after they observed that Muslim ladies in all-encompassing burqas might usually be seen visiting Levi.
Once they briefly arrested Levi, he defined that he had a enterprise promoting amulets to ladies who needed to turn out to be pregnant with sons or who had been against their husbands taking different wives, as allowed below Islamic regulation.
The Taliban launched him.
Krauss reported from Jerusalem.
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