Zablon Simintov, 62, famous for being the last living Jew in Afghanistan lived up to his commitment to his rescuer, Israeli businessman Moti Kahana, and on the eve of Yom Kippur, in New York City, signed a get to his wife after many years of refusal. The signing was signed over Zoom in the presence of two rabbis and Kahana.
I did something good for Yom Kippur a zoom divorce ג׳ט
עשיתי משהו טוב לשנה החדשה עזרתי לאשה לקבל ג׳ט לא בטוח שזה כשר. בטוח יהיה וויכוח הרי אנחנו יהודים ? אבל חיים במאה העשרים ואחת. וזום קיים @Zoom . אז שיהיה לכולנו שנה טובה וצום קל ✌️ pic.twitter.com/SzbC9bl91o
— כהנא מוטי مؤتي كهانا Moti Kahana ?? ? ?? (@motikahana) September 15, 2021
Kahana tweeted afterward: “I did something good for the new year, I helped a woman get a get. Not sure it’s kosher. There will surely be an argument, after all, we are Jews. But we live in the twenty-first century and Zoom exists. So may we all have a happy new year and an easy fast.”
Simintov was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in the city of Herat in 1959 and later moved to Kabul. The Taliban harassed him, forcing him to move into the city’s only synagogue. The owner of a carpet warehouse, he was detained, jailed, and abused by Taliban members, and was forced to pay protection money.
Simintov’s hostile relationship with the other last Jew in Kabul, Ishaq Levin, became the subject of a play in the UK. The two lived in opposite ends of the synagogue and the feud between them was so heated that both men snitched on each other to the Taliban which ended up jailing them for the charges they brought against each other. The Taliban also confiscated their only Torah.
Levin died in 2005 at age 80, leaving the entire synagogue to his rival who was encouraged, now that the city was under American rule, to make aliyah. But Simintov refused to make the move to Israel because he didn’t want to be forced to give a get to his wife—who had left him with their only daughter.
After the US had withdrawn its army from Afghanistan in August and the Taliban took control over Kabul, Simentov said he felt safe and preferred to stay. But shortly thereafter, things in Kabul began to deteriorate, and Moti Kahana, the owner of a logistics and security company, warned the last Jew that “ISIS will either kidnap you and try to sell you or they will chop your head off.”
Simintov finally consented to leave with Kahana’s help and funds from New York-based Rabbi Moshe Margaretten. But both his rescuers conditioned their support on his agreeing to give his wife who lives in Israel a get. After he had given his word, Simintov was taken to a neighboring country and then flown to NYC.