Afghanistan’s (Actual) Last Jew Flees Country

In September, Zebulon Simentov, a man who claimed to be the last Jew in Afghanistan, left the country. He claimed that he was the remainder of a centuries-old community and charged reporters who wished to interview him. The Associated Press (AP) reported that Simentov might not be the last Jew in Afghanistan.

Tova Moradi, Simentov's distant cousin, was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. Moradi was married to a Muslim man but never converted. She also continued to observe Jewish practices, something that the neighborhood was aware of.

She is technically the last Jew in Afghanistan. AP reported that Moradi left the country in the third week of October; they met with her on October 27 in a refugee accommodation in Golem, a coastal city outside Tirana, Albania.

Moradi (83) was born to a Jewish family in Kabul, along with her nine siblings. She married a Muslim man at age 16 after running away from her family. Khorshid, Moradi's daughter based in Canada, explained that her mother had to marry a Muslim because "you cannot be safe as a young girl in Afghanistan." "She never denied her Judaism; she just got married to save her life," she said.

Despite her family's disapproval of marrying outside the Jewish faith, she chose to stay in touch with some of her family. Her family left Afghanistan in the 1960s and 1980s. Many of Moradi's surviving siblings now live in Israel along with their descendants. Their parents were buried in Har Menuhot cemetery in Jerusalem.

Moradi escaped from Afghanistan, along with her children and grandchildren, with the help of IsraAid, a non-governmental humanitarian organization based in Israel. Government agencies from other countries, including Israel and prominent Jewish billionaires and philanthropists, also contributed to Moradi and her family's escape.

Yotam Polizer, IsraAid's CEO, explained that the two-month endeavor was made possible with the assistance of Afghan diplomats, billionaires Alexander Mashkevich and Israeli-Kazakh, and Sylvan Adams, an Israeli-Canadian. The office of Israel's president was also involved but declined to give an official statement.

In an interview with AP, Moradi expressed that she would not want to leave. "I loved my country, loved it very much, but had to leave because my children were in danger," she explained. But she also enjoyed the chance to talk to her remaining relatives. Moradi said, "I saw my sisters, nieces, and nephews after around 60 years through a video call. We spoke for hours!" "I was really happy, I saw their children, and they met mine," she added.

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