Last Afghan Jew to leave is a woman, 83

The last Jew to leave Afghanistan is not Zevulun Simentov, but  a distant cousin of his, Tova Muradi, aged 83. After receiving threats, Muradi, two children and four grandchildren were flown out in a rescue mission organised by ISRA-AID.  Point of No Return has learned that they were part of a group of 167 Afghans evacuated out of the country to the UAE via Tajikistan. They are among some 2,000 refugees taken in by Albania. They are permitted to  stay until they obtain visas for their final destinations. Muradi, whose family is more Muslim than Jewish, hopes to join her daughter Khorshid  in Canada. However,  she intends to visit her five siblings in Israel and her parents’ graves in Jerusalem. ISRA-AID organised a Zoom call so that Tova could see her three sisters and two brothers for the first time in 60 years. It was a tearful event, all the more poignant as another sister, to whom she had been particularly close, had died six months earlier. ISRA-AID had not been able to rescue 25 more members of Tova’s family, but referred them to other relief agencies. They are now safely in the UAE. The Washington Post broke the news of Tova’s rescue :

Tova Muradi, 83, left Afghanistan on a rescue mission organised by ISRA-AID.

JERUSALEM — For years, Zebulon Simentov branded himself as the “last Jew of Afghanistan,” the sole remnant of a centuries-old community. He charged reporters for interviews and held court in Kabul’s only remaining synagogue. He left the country last month for Istanbul after the Taliban seized power.

Now it appears he was not the last one.

Simentov’s distant cousin, Tova Moradi, was born and raised in Kabul and lived there until last week, more than a month after Simentov departed in September. Fearing for their safety, Moradi, her children and nearly two dozen grandchildren fled the country in recent weeks in an escape orchestrated by an Israeli aid group, activists and prominent Jewish philanthropists.

“I loved my country, loved it very much, but had to leave because my children were in danger,” Moradi told The Associated Press from her modest quarters in the Albanian town of Golem, whose beachside resorts have been converted to makeshift homes for some 2,000 Afghan refugees.

Moradi, 83, was one of 10 children born to a Jewish family in Kabul. At age 16, she ran away from home and married a Muslim man. She never converted to Islam, maintained some Jewish traditions, and it was no secret in her neighborhood that she was Jewish.

“She never denied her Judaism, she just got married in order to save her life as you cannot be safe as a young girl in Afghanistan,” Moradi’s daughter, Khorshid, told the AP from her home in Canada, where she and three of her siblings moved after the Taliban first seized power in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Despite friction over her decision to marry outside the faith, Moradi said she stayed in touch with some of her family over the years. Her parents and siblings fled Afghanistan in the 1960s and 1980s. Her parents are buried at Jerusalem’s Har Menuhot cemetery, and many of her surviving siblings and their descendants live in Israel.

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This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

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