by Nancy Dillon, Daily News Staff Writer | NYDailyNews.com | October 12, 2011
Afghanistan's sole remaining synagogue, meanwhile, is no longer in use in Kabul for lack of a Jewish community, according to the department's recently released International Religious Freedom Report.
"I'm the only Jew in Afghanistan," Simantov, 59, told The Times. "It's a big responsibility. Yes, I wish there was a larger community. But I keep kosher and maintain the tradition."
The Times said Simantov lived in a broken-down building described as Kabul's last synagogue.
The bachelor's pad had a single fluorescent bulb and "well-worn" Afghan carpets that served as both his bed and eating surface.
He told The Times he slaughters his own chickens and sheep in keeping with kosher dietary laws. Normally, only a specially designated person can do this, but Simantov said he got permission to do so from a rabbi in Uzbekistan because he's going it alone.
Since the Taliban's ouster, members of other religious minorities have returned to the predominantly Sunni Muslim country, many settling in Kabul, the State Department said.
The September 2011 report said that as many as 8,000 Christians now live in Afghanistan - some of them returned refugees - but the last public Christian church was destroyed by the landowner in March.