The Afghanis regard themselves as the descendants of King Saul. A chronicle from the 16th century says that the Afghanis were deported to Afghanistan by Nebuchadnezzar after the destruction of Jerusalem. There are synagogue ruins in Kabul that can be traced back to Nebuchadnezzar’s time.
In the 1830s, many Jews fled Kabul in consequence of a prohibition against the growing of grapes and production of wine. Nevertheless there was a significant Jewish settlement in Kabul in the middle of the 19th century. The trading connections of the Jews of Kabul reached into China.
In Afghanistan the Jews speak Jewish-Persian. They composed their guides to law and religious writings in this language. The rabbis functioned like judges. The previous estimate that 18,000 Jews live in Afghanistan is now seen as an exaggeration; it is more like 5,000. There still exist ghettoes in the cities that are locked up after dark. The Jews wear a particular black kind of headcovering. They live in Kabul and farther out in Heart, Balch, Kandahar, and Ghasni.
About the Author: Ezra James Nollet is a retired U.S. government chemist living in Poland where he is officer of the local synagogue in Legnica. Before the Deluge appears the last week of each month.
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