Afghan Jew´s Remains Sent to Uzbekistan (AP) By STEPHEN GRAHAM KABUL, Afghanistan 02/01/05 7:06 AM)
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KABUL, Afghanistan - The remains of the second-to-last Jew in
Afghanistan were flown Tuesday to Uzbekistan, the first stop on a
journey to Israel where the body will be buried, the International
Committee of the Red Cross said.
Ishaq Levin, caretaker of Afghanistan´s only functioning synagogue,
died at about age 80 in the Afghan capital on Jan. 18, apparently of
natural causes, ending a bitter feud with the only other survivor of
a once-thriving Jewish community.
A Red Cross aircraft took Levin´s body to the Uzbek capital,
Tashkent, where it was to be handed over to Israeli Embassy
officials, said Jean-Nicolas Marti, deputy head of the Red Cross
delegation in Afghanistan.
It was unclear when the body would be flown on to Israel.
Levin´s relatives approached the Red Cross in Tel Aviv and asked for
help in bringing his body to Israel, Marti said.
Marti said bureaucracy and infrequent flights between Tashkent and
Tel Aviv had held up the transfer. Afghanistan and Israel have no
Levin´s death halved Kabul´s tiny Jewish community, leaving just 45-
year-old Zebulon Simentov, who was Levin´s neighbor in the downtown
Afghanistan´s Jewish community numbered as many as 40,000 in the late
19th century, after Persian Jews fled forced conversion in
neighboring Iran. But by the mid-20th century, only about 5,000
remained, and most emigrated after Israel´s creation in 1948.
According to Simentov, the last eight or nine families left after the
1979 Soviet invasion. But Levin - the synagogue´s shamash, or
caretaker - stayed on, even through the repressive rule of the
Simentov and Levin had feuded for years, blaming each other for
arrests and beatings at the hands of the Taliban as well as the loss
of the synagogue´s only Torah.
Police have said the scroll was in the hands of a former Taliban
minister now believed to be incarcerated in the American military
prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Copyright 2005 Associated Press.
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