In Writing

The other day I was Googling the current Jewish population of various countries (it’s for a book).  I scanned the list. Curious even after I had the information I needed, I continued down the list.  Only 1,000 Jews in Japan.  900 in Guatemala.  How could a population get any tinier than that?

But they did, on down the line.  300 in Kenya.  200 in Thailand.  Down I scrolled, until I reached the last country that had a reported Jewish population.  Of one.  That’s right, there is one country that has only ONE Jewish person left.  Afghanistan.

His name is Zablon Simintov.  I was instantly fascinated by this man.  What is it like to be the last of your religion? Apparently not so great for Mr. Simintov.  His restaurant is failing as people eat out less in Kabul.  He only wears his yarmulke in private.  He is the caretaker of the last synagogue in Afghanistan.  His wife and daughters have emigrated to Israel but he refuses to follow.

Still, I can’t help but admire that level of commitment.  What must it be like to be fervently religious, as this man appears to be, but have no one else keep your faith?  Isn’t religion also about community?  Or maybe the only thing required is to have it live in one’s heart.

Read more about this fascinating man. Click here


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