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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 18:18 GMT
'Only one Jew' now in Afghanistan
45-year-old Zebulon Simentov is now believed to be Afghanistan's only Jew
Zebulon Simentov got on badly with Mr Levin
A 45-year-old man is believed to have become the last Jew in Afghanistan after the death of the caretaker of the only functioning synagogue in Kabul.

It has emerged that the caretaker, Ishaq Levin, aged about 80, died of natural causes about a week ago.

His Jewish neighbour, Zebulon Simentov, lived with Mr Levin in the synagogue.

Correspondents say that around 5,000 Afghan Jews left the country after the creation of Israel in 1948, with others leaving after the 1979 Soviet invasion.

The death of the man believed to be his only co-religionist does not seem to be a source of grievance for Mr Simentov.

"He was a very bad man who tried to get me killed," he told the Associated Press news agency, "and now I am the Jew here, I am the boss."

Correspondents say that the two men were at loggerheads for some time, with both vying for control of the synagogue and both saying that they had been tortured under Afghanistan's hardline Taleban regime.

Mr Levin said before his death that he had been publicly accused by Mr Simentov of converting to Islam so that Mr Simentov could take over the running of the building.

Mr Simentov blames Mr Levin for the loss of the synagogue's most sacred treasure - a copy of the Jewish holy book, The Torah, which he says was confiscated by the hardline Islamic Taleban regime.

Worldwide Jewish organisations say that Jews have been in Afghanistan since the eighth century, mostly in Kabul and Herat.

But in recent times many have emigrated to Central Asia and India.




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