Afghanistan's last Jew plans to leave the country

Zabulon Simantov said he's 'had enough' and will move to Israel this autumn


KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - SEPTEMBER 18: Zebulon Simantov reads his old tatered hebrew prayer book as he celebrates the Jewish New Year feast of Rosh Hashanah September 18, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Zebulon, 57, claims to be the last Jew living in the war-torn conservative Muslim country and says he keeps a Kosher home. The Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, coincides this year with Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim feast marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Born in northwestern Herat, Simantov attended Hebrew school before moving to Kabul at age 27. In 1992, he fled to Tajikistan, fleeing from Afghanistan's growing violence, married a Tajik Jew and had two daughters. The family immigrated in 1998 to Israel, but he returned to Kabul two months later, leaving them behind. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Afghanistan’s last known Jew has “had enough” and plans to leave the country this autumn.

Zabulon Simantov, a carpet and jewelry merchant, lives on the same Kabul compound as Afghanistan’s only synagogue.

His decision to move to Israel after the High Holy Days this autumn came, he told Arab News, as a result of losing hope for peace in the country.  Mr Simantov’s wife and daughters live in Israel.

He said: “I will watch on TV to find out what will happen in Afghanistan.

“I have had enough and plan to leave in the next few months.

“I managed to protect the synagogue of Kabul like a lion of Jews here, stood against the mujahhideen and the Taliban.”

He added he rarely leaves the compound and believed his country had “no future”.

The Jewish community in Afghanistan once numbered in the tens of thousands and is thought to be some 2000 years old.

Mr Simantov, who is thought to be in his late 50s or early 60s, told the BBC in 2019 he was pressured to convert to Islam but refused.

He said: “They offered me money but I said no. I responded to them that G-d made me Jewish and you Muslim.

“Even the Taliban asked me to convert, but I said no.”

News of Mr Simantov’s decision comes just one week after some of the last remaining Jews in Yemen were deported, effectively ending Jewish presence in the country.

And last month, Dhafar Fouad Eliyahu, a leading orthopaedic doctor, died at the age of 61, leaving just three Jews remaining in Iraq.

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