Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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al-Jazeera: Herat’s restored synagogues reveal Afghanistan’s Jewish past

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al-Jazeera, 7 February 2020

While the last Jew living in Kabul and his synagogue are well known, it is lesser known that Herat – and other cities of northern Afghanistan – had had Jewish communities for centuries. It is believed that the population of Jews in western Afghanistan was close to 40,000 as of 1836 due to many Jews fleeing Persian persecution, with Herat at the heart of the community. They left again after the creation of Israel, partly because of anti-Jewish trade policy measures by the government in the 1940s and 1950s and later because of the Soviet invasion. (Many Afghan Jews had come from Bukhara after Central Asia became Russian.)

This article (with beautiful photos!) introduces a historic synagogue in Herat, about 350 years old, now taken care off by the Herati Jews’ former Muslim neighbours, as Herat’s Jews. One of the Heratis is quoted as saying: “They lived around here, they had shops and businesses. They were butchers, they sold spices and clothes. This is their neighbourhood.”