Despite the takeover of Afghanistan this week by the Taliban, the country’s last remaining Jew said on Tuesday that he intends to stay.
In an interview with the New Delhi-based international English-language news channel WION, Zebulon Simentov explained that though “no one can stay safe from the Taliban,” and that “Sikhs, Hindus and even Muslims have left the country,” he will not follow suit.
According to WION, the 62-year-old is the caretaker of the last synagogue in Kabul, and he said that the Jewish house of worship would have fallen to disrepair had it not been for him.
Simentov—who said that the Taliban considers him an “infidel” and tried unsuccessfully in the past to convert him to Islam—said that he had had the opportunity to escape to the United States, and also mulled moving to Israel, where members of his family live, but chose not to exercise those options.
This, he said, is in spite of his having been imprisoned four times over the decades, during which he witnessed the “Soviet invasion, the Afghan civil war and the first Taliban rule.”
Afghanistan was home to 5,000 Jews until Israel’s establishment in 1948, when many began immigrating there, WION reported.