Zebulon Simentov has the dubious honor of being the very last Jew in Afghanistan. He tends the near-empty synagogue in Kabul, and slaughters his own kosher meat, and otherwise is indistinguishable from his neighbors, who seem uniformly friendly to him.
This may be because many of them claim Jewish origins themselves. Apparently, the Afghan royal family believes it is descended from the tribe of Benjamin; and the Pashtun, Durrani, Yussafzai, and Afridi tribes count themselves as descendants of Saul and call themselves “Bani-Israel.”
I could quote the old joke “funny, you don’t look Jewish”—except for the fact that I’ve always noticed that many of them sort of do. Of course, that’s true of most peoples of the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
The disappeared Jewish community of Afghanistan was an ancient one, fed partly from migrations from Iran (Persia), site of a much larger Jewish presence for millennia. Paralleling the history of much of Sephardic Jewry, most of the Jews of Afghanistan migrated in the middle of the twentieth century, primarily to Israel.
I’ve written before about how countries such as Germany and Poland have had a revival of interest in—and even nostalgia (“Jewstalgia”) for—their not-so-long-lost Jewish populations, now that they have so few Jews left. That development seems quite far off in the Muslim world, but it is certainly possible—some day.