THAT MANY? Only one Jew left in Afghanistan

Zebulon Simantov, the last Jew in Afghanistan

And only one synagogue. But not a single church, even though up to 8,000 Christians still live there.

CNS NEWS  Zebulon Simantov is the only known Jewish citizen remaining in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. State Department. That is despite the fact that Jews have lived in Afghanistan for nearly three millenia, and had a local population that was 40,000 strong as of the mid-1800s, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, a division of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.

By 1996, when the Islamist Taliban regime came to power, there were only 10 Jews still living in Afghanistan. By 2005, four years after the U.S. invaded the country and overthrew the Taliban, there were only two Jews still living in Afghanistan, according to the Jewish Virtual Library.

More than 10,000 Jews of Afghan descent now live in Israel. The second largest population of Afghan Jews is New York, with 200 families. According to the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, a Jewish presence in Afghanistan goes back around 2,700 years. While there were possibly 80,000 Jews in the region in the 12th century, the number was about 40,000 in 1839.

“The decline came in 1870 after Afghan Muslim authorities enacted anti-Jewish measures, triggering a mass exodus to Central Asia, Persia and Palestine,” states the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. “The 1933 assassination of King Nadit Shah triggered another anti-Jewish campaign. Jews were banished from most Afghan cities, limiting them to Kabul, Balkh or Herat. In addition, Jews were forbidden to leave town without a permit and forced to pay special taxes (jiyza).

Now there is only one left.