Zebulon Simentov, the last Jewish citizen of Afghanistan, left the embattled country this month for a neighboring country. Simentov lived in and maintained the nation’s only synagogue in Kabul, kept kosher, and prayed in Hebrew, according to Israel Hayom. Though he was originally not worried about the Taliban following their takeover of the country, he eventually agreed to leave under one condition—that 100 children from families in danger would be evacuated safely along with him. Though a robust Jewish community likely thrived in Afghanistan 1,000 years ago, as evidenced by Hebrew manuscripts found in the nation’s caves, its numbers dwindled first via immigration to Israel when it was established in 1948, then again when the Soviets invaded in 1979.
Add Afghanistan to the list of countries with no Jewish presence at all. This indicates how devastating the situation in Afghanistan really is. Though Simentov was arrested and beaten by the Taliban more than 20 years ago, it is only now that they have taken over the nation fully following the United States’ withdrawal that the 62-year-old chose to leave his lifelong home. It’s sad to see the Jewish community in Afghanistan is now fully extinct, but hopefully Simentov will be able to live freely and safely while maintaining his Jewish identity in his new homeland.