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Middle Eastern country lying between India, Pakistan, and Russia. Jews have lived in Afghanistan since before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 B.C.E. There is a legend that they are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes. Little is known about the history of the Jewish community there, except that Jews have always been second-class citizens under the medieval despotism prevailing in Afghanistan. Until 1914, they were forced to live in sealed ghettos. After 1914, there was a brief period during which abuse was curtailed and their situation improved. However, in the early 1930’s, largely under the influence of several hundred German technicians working in the country, discriminatory measures were renewed. Jews were required to obtain special permits for travel, forbidden to write letters abroad, excluded from the civil service and most of the professions, banned from commerce, expelled from rural areas, and confined to the cities of Kabul, Herat, and Balkh. By the end of World War II, the number of Jews in Afghanistan had been reduced from about 12,000 to 5,000, largely through illegal emigration.

In 1948, with the establishment of the State of Israel, the majority of Afghanistan Jewry expressed the desire to emigrate, but the government obstructed their emigration. Between 1949 and 1970, approximately 4,200 Afghan Jews reached Israel. In 1993, there were fewer than 100 Jews in the country.

By the end of 2004, only two Jews were left in Afghanistan, Zebulon Simentov and Isaac Levy (Born ca. 1920). In January 2005, Levy died. Simentov, now the last remaining Jew in Afganistan, is trying to recover confiscated Torah scrolls.

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