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Afghan Jewish History


7th Century BC              According to the Bible (2nd book of Kings, Chronicles 1&2) the ten tribes were exiled to Halah and Havor and the river Gozan and at the cities of Maday. There is a mention in the Bible of the exile of a large community to the river Gozan. (Bible, II Kings 18:11; 17:6; I chronicles 526

 

625 BC                          In the days of Nebuchadnezer, the Afghana family fled to the Gur region (Jat in our times) in central Afghanistan. The name "Afghan" appears in a 982 CE book called Hudud-al-Alam, where a reference is made to the name Afghanistan from Afghana, a grandson ofKing Saul.

 

7th Century                    Jews were living in the town of Ghor. The discovery of Jewish cemetery in this city in 1946 testifies an existence of a large and flourishing Jewish Community.

 

8th Century                    Some verses in the Bible mentioned “Land of the North” (Bible, Zecheriah 6:8) which is identified as Khorasan.                           

 

9th & 10th Century          Rabbi Hai Gaon sent server letters in order to reform certain religious practices. The Talmudic schools and the Afghan Jewish community had close ties in the beginning of the middle ages

 

1222                             After the 2nd invasion of Genghis Khan, the Jewish communities were reduced to isolated pockets. Most scholars argue that the community fled into China since there is a significant influence from Persian speaking Jews from Khorasan on the Chinese Jewish community’s texts and ceremonies.

 

1839                             Fleeing forced conversion in Mashhad, Jews arrive to Herat.

 

20th century                   Jewish population on the territory of Afghanistan at the beginning of the 20th century was a figure of only 4,000.                           

 

1930th                           The two main Jewish communities of Afghanistan were located in the cities of Kabul and Herat, each numbering about 2,000 Jews during their peak days in the 1930’s.

 

1928                             In 1928 Naphtali Avramof, a teacher, arrived in Herat and opened a school.  He was a modern teacher and as such many Jews didn't send their children to school. He influenced the community, teaching Hebrew and Zionism and was instrumental in sending Jews to Israel.  Many Afghan Jews prospered in the cotton and silk trade and specialized in the dyeing process.

 

1944                             After WW2 Jews suffered starvation, poverty, and diseases.  The roads were closed by the German-Nazis influence. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (AJJDC) suggested that Benjamin Khafi and David Gad help the Afghan Jews. They were sent to Pakistan to facilitate trading.

 

1970-1976                     Israeli’s government with the assistance of world wide Afghan Jewish communities assist Jews to leave Afghanistan. Most of the families migrated to Israel or the USA.

 

1978                             Following archeological excavations that were conducted in Herat, four synagogues were discovered.  All of them are located in the Bar Durrani and Momanda sections of the old city, an area previously known as majalla-yimusahiya, the “neighbourhood of the Jews”

 

2005-present                 Itzhak Levi, 69, the caretaker of the Kabul synagogue passed away in  January 2005 and was brought to be buried at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem on February 2, 2005. There is currently only one Jew remaining in Afghanistan. Simantov is trying to recover the confiscated Torah from the Taliban.

 

Contributed by Avigdor Gargy.

 



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