Afghan Jews: down to one

Ishaq Levin, one of the last two Jews in Kabul (and presumably in all of Afghanistan), was buried at Jerusalem’s honored Mount of Olives Feb. 2. When Taliban rule ended three years ago, Levin and Zebulon Simentov were found living at opposite ends of Kabul’s synagogue, divided by a bitter feud and refusing to talk to each other. Levin’s relatives in Israel learned of his death through relatives of Simentov, and made arrangements with the Red Cross to have his remains flown out. Two weeks later, the body was delivered to the Israeli embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and flown to Israel for burial. Levin was believed to have been around 80, and hadn’t seen his family since a brief trip to Israel 26 years ago. Israel’s chief Sephardic rabbi Shlomo Amar led prayers at the funeral.

Levin and Simentov were the last survivors of an Afghan Jewish community that numbered some 40,000 just a century ago. They had ben feuding for years, apparently blaming each other for arrests and beatings at the hands of the Taliban and for the loss of the synagogue’s Torah. Kabul police have said the scroll was in the hands of a former Taliban minister now believed to be incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. (AP, Haaretz, Feb. 2) See also WW4 REPORT #12.