Afghanistan’s last Jew departs for Israel after granting wife divorce

The last remaining Jew in Afghanistan, Zabulon Simantov, is on his way to Israel after leaving his home due to the complete takeover of the country by the Taliban, after the group installed its own government in Kabul in late August.

“On the way to Israel: Zebulun Siman Tov, the last Jew in Afghanistan, who fled recently after the Taliban takeover, is expected to arrive in Israel in the coming days,” KAN 11’s Arab Affairs Correspondent Roi Kias tweeted.”

Simantov had said earlier in an interview with Indian news network WION that he wished to stay in Afghanistan in order to maintain his synagogue, but reports noted that his decision may have been connected to his refusal to grant his estranged Israeli wife a get, or Jewish divorce.

Israeli-American businessman Mordechai “Moti” Kahana had offered to charter a flight to transport Simantov to Israel, and Simantov accepted but changed his mind at the last minute.

In September, Simantov left for the United States, citing concerns about the terrorism threat posed by groups such as ISIS-K, which has claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in Afghanistan.

Zabulon Simantov is greeted by Rabbi Mendy Chitrik at the arrivals gate at an airport in Turkey. Credit: Yehuda Chitrik

Zabulon Simantov (bottom, far right) participates in the get proceedings over Zoom. (credit: Rabbi Mendy Chitrik)Zabulon Simantov (bottom, far right) participates in the get proceedings over Zoom. (credit: Rabbi Mendy Chitrik)

The rabbis who helped facilitate Simantov’s departure required as a precondition that he grant his wife her divorce, to which he agreed.

Kahana and Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, Chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in the Islamic States, organized the get proceedings. Signing a harasha, a Jewish legal document similar to a power of attorney, which was translated to Pashto, Simantov authorized the Beit Din (Jewish court) of Sydney, Australia to send the get to another Beit Din in Israel, finalizing the divorce.

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