As the world watched the searing images of the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, some people were concerned about the fate of Zebulon Simantov, 62, the last Jew remaining in the country.
As YWN reported in April, Simantov had been planning on moving to Israel after Sukkos due to his fear of the Taliban’s return but apparently has changed his mind, saying on Tuesday that despite having the opportunity to flee to the US or Israel, he is not interested.
Simantov was a successful businessman in the past, selling carpets and jewelry, but when the Taliban first came into power in 1996, they stole all his goods, beat him up, threw him into prison and pressured him to convert to Islam. He didn’t give in and was released after a few months but later was imprisoned three more times. The Taliban also stole or destroyed all his possessions, including a menorah.
— Zvika Klein (@ZvikaKlein) August 17, 2021
Simantov decided to stay despite the past abuses he suffered from the Taliban, although he admitted that “Sikhs, Hindus and even Muslims have left the country. No one can stay away from the Taliban. They’re still the same as 21 years ago, whipping people with cables.”
Simantov is the caretaker of the remaining shul in Kabul. About 40,000 Jews lived in Afghanistan at the beginning of the 20th century but most left to Israel after 1948 and the remaining Jews left in years afterward, including Simantov’s wife and two daughters, who moved to Israel in 1998.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)