‘Life was better under Taliban’ – last Afghan Jew

Zebulon Simentov, the last Jew of Afghanistan, continues to fascinate journalists. Jason Motlagh of The Jerusalem Post is the latest to meet him : (with thanks: Lily)

“The first question Zebulon Simentov asked his uninvited guest, eyes wide open at the prospect, was, “Are you Jewish?” There was a tinge of disappointment when the reply came back negative, but the last Jew in Afghanistan didn’t miss a beat.

“Humanity is one, religion doesn’t matter,” he said.

“Moments later, a Muslim friend entered the room, unfurled a prayer rug in the corner and bowed toward Mecca. An open box of Manischewitz matza sat next to an empty bottle of whiskey on a table nearby.

“Locals refer to Simentov, 47, simply as “the Jew.” Originally from the western city of Herat, he wears a kippa with his shalwar kameez and swears “half of Kabul” knows him – though probably not for the reasons he’d like to believe.

“His only other coreligionist in the country, Yitzhak Levin, died in January 2005 and was later buried on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. The pair had lived together in the Flower Street synagogue through the Soviet invasion, the civil war and the Taliban regime.

“And they famously grew to hate each other.

“Among other antics, they held separate services, had vicious shouting matches neighbors say could be heard down the street and denounced each other to the Taliban as spies for the Mossad.

“Both received beatings for their trouble.”

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