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Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Synagogue-dweller is Afghan Jewry’s last gasp


Born in the western Afghan city of Herat in 1959, Zebulon Simentov lives, eats and prays alone — the last known Jew in a country dominated by conservative Muslim culture. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan's Jews numbered about 40,000, many of them Persian Jews who had fled forced conversion in Iran. Beginning with an exodus to Israel after it became a state in 1948, the community has been in decline. Now Simentov is the caretaker and sole member of Afghanistan's only working synagogue. The last eight or nine Jewish families left after the 1979 Soviet invasion, he said. Simentov's wife and children moved to Israel years ago, but he stayed even through the Taliban regime. — AP Photos/David Goldman (Source: Dawn)

In this photo taken Saturday, August 29, 2009, Zebulon Simentov, the last known Jew living in Afghanistan, sits as his dining room table during Shabbat in his Kabul home, as Shirgul Amiri, right, a local Muslim friend, prays toward Mecca. Simentov is the caretaker and sole member of Afghanistan's only working synagogue.

In this photo taken Saturday, August 29, 2009, a shofar and Hebrew texts sit where a Torah was once kept in the synagogue overseen by Zebulon Simentov, the last known Jew living in Afghanistan.
In this photo taken Saturday, August 29, 2009, Zebulon Simentov, the last known Jew living in Afghanistan, lights the candles at the start of Shabbat in the synagogue he cares for in Kabul.

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