Last known member of Afghanistan’s Jewish community leaves

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Last known member of Afghanistan's Jewish community leaves

The last Jewish resident of Afghanistan, who lived in a dilapidated synagogue in Kabul, has reportedly left the country along with 29 of his neighbors, nearly all of them women and children.

Zebulon Simentov, 62, who lived through the Taliban’s previous rule from 1996 to 2001, had been set to flee the war-torn country late last month as a rescue mission organized by Moti Kahana, an American-Israeli businessman, was underway during the chaos in the capital.

But the lone Semite suddenly demanded $50,000 as a condition of departure and thwarted the plan, Kahana previously told The Post.

On Wednesday, Kahana told The Associated Press that Simentov and the other Afghans were taken to a “neighboring country.”

Kahana, who runs a private security group, said Simentov was not worried about the Taliban — but he warned the Jewish man that he was at risk of being kidnapped or killed by the terror group ISIS-K.

He said Simentov’s neighbors also urged him to flee, so their children could join him on a bus out of the country.

Zebulon Simentov.
Zebulon Simentov lived in a dilapidated synagogue in Kabul.
David Goldman/AP

Israel’s Kan public broadcaster showed the vehicle full of people, with all the faces blurred except for Simentov’s.

Kahana said his group was reaching out to US and Israel to find a permanent home for Simentov, whose estranged wife and daughter moved to the Jewish state in 1998.

Simentov had long refused to grant his wife a divorce under Jewish law, which could open him up to legal repercussions in Israel – but Kahana said he persuaded him to grant the split.

Zebulon Simentov.
Zebulon Simentov kept a pet partridge and ran a local kebab joint.
Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images

“That was two weeks of being a shrink, a psychiatrist, talking to him like 10 times a day, and his neighbor at the same time to translate,” Kahana told The AP.

Simentov, who originally hails from the western city of Herat, became the country’s last Jew after the death of Yitzhak Levy in 2005 at age 80.

The two men despised each other and feuded during the Taliban’s previous rule.

Zebulon Simentov holds a peeling poster containing Judaic themes.
Neighbors urged Zebulon Simentov to flee, so their children could join him on a bus out of Afghanistan.
Steven Gutkin/AP

At one point, Levy accused Simentov of theft and spying. Simentov countered by accusing his fellow synagogue dweller of renting rooms to prostitutes, an allegation he denied, The New York Times reported in 2002.

The Taliban arrested and beat both men, and confiscated the synagogue’s ancient Torah scroll, which went missing after the Taliban were kicked out during the US-led invasion in 2001.

Journalists who visited Simentov over the years — and paid the high fees he demanded for interviews — found a paunchy man fond of whiskey who kept a pet partridge and ran a local kebab joint.

Zebulon Simentov blows a musical horn 'Shofar' at synagogue.
Zebulon Simentov reportedly left Afghanistan with 29 of his neighbors, nearly all of them women and children.
Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

The way out of Afghanistan on Monday was “scary and dangerous,” Kahana told CNN, as the group passed through Taliban checkpoints.

“He saw an opportunity to help his neighbor’s kids by leaving and it was getting too dangerous to stay,” Kahana said of Simentov. “He really saved the kids by taking them with him.”

With Post wires

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