JERUSALEM (AP) — The person often known as the final Jew of Kabul may quickly be heading to Israel, after agreeing to grant his estranged spouse a spiritual divorce in a Zoom name — a precondition for easy entry to the Holy Land.
Zebulon Simentov, who fled Afghanistan final month after the Taliban takeover, landed Sunday in Turkey on what his rescuers say is a remaining cease earlier than touring to Israel, maybe as quickly as this week.
It caps a weekslong odyssey that included an escape from his homeland in addition to a videoconference divorce process meant to make sure he is not going to run into bother with Israeli authorities.
Beneath Jewish spiritual regulation, a husband should comply with grant his spouse a divorce, one thing he had refused to do for a few years. Dealing with the prospect of authorized motion in Israel, the place his ex-wife lives, Simentov, after resisting for years, lastly agreed to the divorce final month in a particular Zoom name supervised by Australian rabbinical authorities.
The Related Press considered a part of the continuing. In the course of the typically chaotic dialogue, carried out via an interpreter who struggled to elucidate the process, Simentov agrees to signal a divorce doc often known as a “get” after receiving assurances that he is not going to face bother in Israel.
Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, whose nonprofit group Tzedek Affiliation funded the journey, stated Simentov had spent the previous couple of weeks residing quietly in Pakistan, an Islamic nation that doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Israel.
He stated his group had regarded into bringing Simentov to the U.S. however determined that Israel was a greater vacation spot each due to difficulties in arranging a U.S. entry visa and since Simentov has many relations, together with 5 siblings and two daughters, already in Israel.
“We’re relieved we have been profitable in serving to Zebulon Simentov escape from Afghanistan and now into security in Turkey,” stated Margaretten, whose group has helped evacuate a number of dozen different folks from Afghanistan. “Zebulon’s life was at risk in Afghanistan.”
Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, greeted Simentov on the airport in Istanbul on Sunday.
He stated he had an appointment to take Simentov to the Israeli consulate on Monday to rearrange his entry to Israel. Beneath Israel’s “Regulation of Return,” any Jew is entitled to Israeli citizenship.
Chitrik stated he had been working with Margaretten and different volunteers for a number of months to get Simentov out of Afghanistan. “I’m completely satisfied this subject is lastly coming to relaxation,” he stated.
How lengthy that may take stays unclear. The Israeli Overseas Ministry stated it was unaware of the request and Simentov is also delayed by coronavirus protocols proscribing entry to Israel.
Simentov, who lived in a dilapidated synagogue in Kabul, saved kosher and prayed in Hebrew, endured many years of conflict because the nation’s centuries-old Jewish neighborhood quickly dwindled. However the Taliban takeover in August appears to have been the final straw.
Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American businessman who runs a non-public agency that organized the evacuation on behalf of Margaretten, instructed The Related Press final month that Simentov was not frightened concerning the Taliban as a result of he had lived below their rule earlier than. He stated that threats of the extra radical Islamic State group and strain from neighbors who have been rescued with him had helped persuade him to go away.
Hebrew manuscripts present in caves in northern Afghanistan point out a thriving Jewish neighborhood existed there a minimum of 1,000 years in the past. Within the late nineteenth century, Afghanistan was dwelling to some 40,000 Jews, lots of them Persian Jews who had fled pressured conversion in neighboring Iran. The neighborhood’s decline started with an exodus to Israel after its creation in 1948.
In an interview with The Related Press in 2009, Simentov stated the final Jewish households left after the 1979 Soviet invasion.
For a number of years he shared the synagogue constructing with the nation’s solely different Jew, Isaak Levi, however they despised one another and feuded in the course of the Taliban’s earlier rule from 1996 to 2001.
At one level, 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 Occasions reported in 2002. The Taliban arrested each males and beat them, and so they confiscated the synagogue’s historical Torah scroll, which went lacking after the Taliban have been pushed from energy within the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
When his 80-year-old housemate died in 2005, Simentov stated he was completely satisfied to be rid of him.
Reporters who visited Simentov over time — and paid the exorbitant charges he charged for interviews — discovered a portly man keen on whiskey, who saved a pet partridge and watched Afghan TV. He noticed Jewish dietary restrictions and ran a kebab store.
Born within the western metropolis of Herat in 1959, he at all times insisted Afghanistan was dwelling.
The Taliban, like different Islamic militant teams, are hostile to Israel however tolerated the nation’s miniscule Jewish neighborhood throughout their earlier reign.