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Fleeing Taliban rule, Kabul's last Jew divorces wife over Zoom to be allowed into Israel

ghazi52

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Fleeing Taliban rule, Kabul's last Jew divorces wife over Zoom to be allowed into Israel

AP
October 17, 2021




In this Aug 29, 2009, file photo, Zebulon Simentov, the last known Jew living in Afghanistan, sits in his Kabul home. — AP/File


In this Aug 29, 2009, file photo, Zebulon Simentov, the last known Jew living in Afghanistan, sits in his Kabul home. — AP/File


The man known as the last Jew of Kabul could soon be heading to Israel, after agreeing to grant his estranged wife a religious divorce in a Zoom call — a precondition for smooth entry to the Holy Land.

Zebulon Simentov, who fled Afghanistan last month after the Taliban takeover, landed on Sunday in Turkey on what his rescuers say is a final stop before travelling to Israel, perhaps as soon as this week.

It caps a weeks-long odyssey that included an escape from his homeland as well as a videoconference divorce procedure meant to ensure he will not run into trouble with Israeli authorities.

Under Jewish religious law, a husband must agree to grant his wife a divorce, something he had refused to do for many years. Facing the prospect of legal action in Israel, where his ex-wife lives, Simentov, after resisting for years, finally agreed to the divorce last month in a special Zoom call supervised by Australian rabbinical authorities.

The Associated Press viewed part of the proceeding. During the sometimes chaotic discussion, conducted through an interpreter who struggled to explain the procedure, Simentov agrees to sign a divorce document known as a “get” after receiving assurances that he will not face trouble in Israel.
Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, whose nonprofit group Tzedek Association funded the journey, said Simentov had spent the last few weeks living quietly in Pakistan, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.


He said his group had looked into bringing Simentov to the US but decided that Israel was a better destination both because of difficulties in arranging a US entry visa and because Simentov has many relatives, including five siblings and two daughters, already in Israel.

“We are relieved we were successful in helping Zebulon Simentov escape from Afghanistan and now into safety in Turkey,” said Margaretten, whose group has helped evacuate several dozen other people from Afghanistan. “Zebulon’s life was in danger in Afghanistan.”

Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, greeted Simentov at the airport in Istanbul on Sunday.
He said he had an appointment to take Simentov to the Israeli consulate on Monday to arrange his entry to Israel. Under Israel’s “Law of Return”, any Jew is entitled to Israeli citizenship.

Chitrik said he had been working with Margaretten and other volunteers for several months to get Simentov out of Afghanistan. “I’m happy this issue is finally coming to rest,” he said.

How long that will take remains unclear. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it was unaware of the request and Simentov could also be delayed by coronavirus protocols restricting entry to Israel.

Simentov, who lived in a dilapidated synagogue in Kabul, kept kosher and prayed in Hebrew, endured decades of war as the country’s centuries-old Jewish community rapidly dwindled. But the Taliban takeover in August seems to have been the last straw.
Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American businessman who runs a private firm that organised the evacuation on behalf of Margaretten, told The Associated Press last month that Simentov was not worried about the Taliban because he had lived under their rule before. He said that threats of the more radical militant Islamic State group and pressure from neighbours who were rescued with him had helped persuade him to leave.

Hebrew manuscripts found in caves in northern Afghanistan indicate a thriving Jewish community existed there at least 1,000 years ago. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan was home to some 40,000 Jews, many of them Persian Jews who had fled forced conversion in neighbouring Iran. The community’s decline began with an exodus to Israel after its creation in 1948.
In an interview with The Associated Press in 2009, Simentov said the last Jewish families left after the 1979 Soviet invasion.

For several years, he shared the synagogue building with the country’s only other Jew, Isaak Levi, but they despised each other and feuded during the Taliban’s previous rule from 1996 to 2001.

At one point, Levi accused Simentov of theft and spying and Simentov countered by accusing Levi of renting rooms to prostitutes, an allegation he denied, The New York Times reported in 2002. The Taliban arrested both men and beat them, and they confiscated the synagogue’s ancient Torah scroll, which went missing after the Taliban were driven from power in the 2001 US-led invasion.

When his 80-year-old housemate died in 2005, Simentov said he was happy to be rid of him.

Reporters who visited Simentov over the years — and paid the exorbitant fees he charged for interviews — found a portly man fond of whiskey, who kept a pet partridge and watched Afghan TV. He observed Jewish dietary restrictions and ran a kebab shop.
Born in the western city of Herat in 1959, he always insisted Afghanistan was home.

The Taliban, like other Islamist militant groups, are hostile to Israel but tolerated the country’s miniscule Jewish community during their previous reign
 

jus_chillin

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Wait so why did he have to divorce his wife to be allowed there? Is this actually part of Israeli law?
 

AZMwi

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Taliban never threatened him so why is he leaving now?? and why did he had to divorce his wife to enter israel????
 

WinterFangs

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Wait so why did he have to divorce his wife to be allowed there? Is this actually part of Israeli law?
I think his wife wanted the divorce but he didn’t accept the divorce, and in order for him to come back to Israel he would need to accept the divorce Due to Jewish law which requires the man to agree to grant his wife the divorce (Get). And he was living in Afghanistan for a while now, he prob didn’t see his wife for decades, so tbh it’s understandable from her pov. Not sure though, best if a Israeli pdf member clarifies it.
 

FuturePAF

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I think his wife wanted the divorce but he didn’t accept the divorce, and in order for him to come back to Israel he would need to accept the divorce Due to Jewish law which requires the man to agree to grant his wife the divorce (Get). And he was living in Afghanistan for a while now, he prob didn’t see his wife for decades, so tbh it’s understandable from her pov. Not sure though, best if a Israeli pdf member clarifies it.
My Russian Jewish collegues tell me there was something about money involved that He didn’t want to pay or have to forfeit. He was locked up by the Talibs the last time they were in power but because he was so annoying in jail, they let him out to go back home. He didn’t want to leave for a long time, but the chief rabbi of Moscow or Kiev, I forget which one offered to fly to Kabul to get the Get for his ex-wife. This guy generally was just stubborn. I think everyone is happy he is out of the country, so he doesn’t have to be looked after, for his own safety.
 

Clutch

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Taliban never threatened him so why is he leaving now?? and why did he had to divorce his wife to enter israel????
He is close to sixty.... Where was he living before the American rule when Taliban ruled in the 90s and early 2000s???... I guess he came over just to for all the American benefits....
 

PradoTLC

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Fleeing Taliban rule, Kabul's last Jew divorces wife over Zoom to be allowed into Israel

AP
October 17, 2021




In this Aug 29, 2009, file photo, Zebulon Simentov, the last known Jew living in Afghanistan, sits in his Kabul home. — AP/File


In this Aug 29, 2009, file photo, Zebulon Simentov, the last known Jew living in Afghanistan, sits in his Kabul home. — AP/File


The man known as the last Jew of Kabul could soon be heading to Israel, after agreeing to grant his estranged wife a religious divorce in a Zoom call — a precondition for smooth entry to the Holy Land.

Zebulon Simentov, who fled Afghanistan last month after the Taliban takeover, landed on Sunday in Turkey on what his rescuers say is a final stop before travelling to Israel, perhaps as soon as this week.

It caps a weeks-long odyssey that included an escape from his homeland as well as a videoconference divorce procedure meant to ensure he will not run into trouble with Israeli authorities.

Under Jewish religious law, a husband must agree to grant his wife a divorce, something he had refused to do for many years. Facing the prospect of legal action in Israel, where his ex-wife lives, Simentov, after resisting for years, finally agreed to the divorce last month in a special Zoom call supervised by Australian rabbinical authorities.

The Associated Press viewed part of the proceeding. During the sometimes chaotic discussion, conducted through an interpreter who struggled to explain the procedure, Simentov agrees to sign a divorce document known as a “get” after receiving assurances that he will not face trouble in Israel.
Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, whose nonprofit group Tzedek Association funded the journey, said Simentov had spent the last few weeks living quietly in Pakistan, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.


He said his group had looked into bringing Simentov to the US but decided that Israel was a better destination both because of difficulties in arranging a US entry visa and because Simentov has many relatives, including five siblings and two daughters, already in Israel.

“We are relieved we were successful in helping Zebulon Simentov escape from Afghanistan and now into safety in Turkey,” said Margaretten, whose group has helped evacuate several dozen other people from Afghanistan. “Zebulon’s life was in danger in Afghanistan.”

Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, greeted Simentov at the airport in Istanbul on Sunday.
He said he had an appointment to take Simentov to the Israeli consulate on Monday to arrange his entry to Israel. Under Israel’s “Law of Return”, any Jew is entitled to Israeli citizenship.

Chitrik said he had been working with Margaretten and other volunteers for several months to get Simentov out of Afghanistan. “I’m happy this issue is finally coming to rest,” he said.

How long that will take remains unclear. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it was unaware of the request and Simentov could also be delayed by coronavirus protocols restricting entry to Israel.

Simentov, who lived in a dilapidated synagogue in Kabul, kept kosher and prayed in Hebrew, endured decades of war as the country’s centuries-old Jewish community rapidly dwindled. But the Taliban takeover in August seems to have been the last straw.
Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American businessman who runs a private firm that organised the evacuation on behalf of Margaretten, told The Associated Press last month that Simentov was not worried about the Taliban because he had lived under their rule before. He said that threats of the more radical militant Islamic State group and pressure from neighbours who were rescued with him had helped persuade him to leave.

Hebrew manuscripts found in caves in northern Afghanistan indicate a thriving Jewish community existed there at least 1,000 years ago. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan was home to some 40,000 Jews, many of them Persian Jews who had fled forced conversion in neighbouring Iran. The community’s decline began with an exodus to Israel after its creation in 1948.
In an interview with The Associated Press in 2009, Simentov said the last Jewish families left after the 1979 Soviet invasion.

For several years, he shared the synagogue building with the country’s only other Jew, Isaak Levi, but they despised each other and feuded during the Taliban’s previous rule from 1996 to 2001.

At one point, Levi accused Simentov of theft and spying and Simentov countered by accusing Levi of renting rooms to prostitutes, an allegation he denied, The New York Times reported in 2002. The Taliban arrested both men and beat them, and they confiscated the synagogue’s ancient Torah scroll, which went missing after the Taliban were driven from power in the 2001 US-led invasion.

When his 80-year-old housemate died in 2005, Simentov said he was happy to be rid of him.

Reporters who visited Simentov over the years — and paid the exorbitant fees he charged for interviews — found a portly man fond of whiskey, who kept a pet partridge and watched Afghan TV. He observed Jewish dietary restrictions and ran a kebab shop.
Born in the western city of Herat in 1959, he always insisted Afghanistan was home.

The Taliban, like other Islamist militant groups, are hostile to Israel but tolerated the country’s miniscule Jewish community during their previous reign
...
 

Great Janjua

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A wife or a husband is half your identity in this brief life. This guy lost all sympathetic support from me and as I reckon the rest of the sane world.
 

jus_chillin

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I think his wife wanted the divorce but he didn’t accept the divorce, and in order for him to come back to Israel he would need to accept the divorce Due to Jewish law which requires the man to agree to grant his wife the divorce (Get). And he was living in Afghanistan for a while now, he prob didn’t see his wife for decades, so tbh it’s understandable from her pov. Not sure though, best if a Israeli pdf member clarifies it.
Oh ok that makes sense. Thx
 

ghazi52

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I think his wife wanted the divorce but he didn’t accept the divorce, and in order for him to come back to Israel he would need to accept the divorce Due to Jewish law which requires the man to agree to grant his wife the divorce (Get). And he was living in Afghanistan for a while now, he prob didn’t see his wife for decades, so tbh it’s understandable from her pov. Not sure though, best if a Israeli pdf member clarifies it.
Correct.
 

Agha Sher

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What a shame. He's leaving Afghanistan by claiming that he will be oppressed. Yet he moves to somewhere, where he can become the oppressor.

I've always cherished my country's last jew but now I hope one of Hamas' rockets strikes him.
 

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