In his first official act after leaving Afghanistan, the country’s last Jew, Zebulon Simantov, will be divorcing his wife — who has been living in Israel without him for some two decades, his handlers say.
After initially refusing to leave Afghanistan, Simantov ultimately consented to going with a rescue team organized by Israeli-American businessman Moti Kahana.
“I explained to Zebulon, ‘It’s not the Taliban to worry about. They may even protect you. But [ISIS] and Al-Qaeda types will try and kidnap you and they will try and ransom you,’” Kahana told The Post. “‘Or they will just chop your head off because they need the media attention.’”
Kahana ferreted Simantov out of Afghanistan to a “neighboring country” via an overland route in the first week of September along with dozens of other vulnerable Afghans.
Simantov is at a hotel, along with Archbishop Robert Gosselin of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches and one of Kahana’s financial partners, while his backers in New York try to organize the paperwork necessary to bring him into the U.S., where relatives in Queens are ready to take him in. He also may resettle in Israel.
Under Jewish law, Simantov’s wife — identified as Lanah Musaiv — cannot be legally separated from him unless he grants a Get — a traditional Jewish divorce document.
“I sent out the paperwork to the Archbishop. The Archbishop printed the documents and [Simantov] agreed to sign it and he signed it,” Kahana told The Post after posting an image of Simantov adding his name to the papers to his Twitter account.
Formal Gets aren’t the easiest to obtain, even in places like Israel or the United States, and can only be issued by a court of three rabbis called a Bet Din. In Afghanistan, where Simantov was long the last remaining Jew, it was logistically impossible. When efforts were made under the US-backed former Afghan government, Simantov reportedly balked.
In his tweet, Kahana admitted the impromptu divorce — which he witnessed via Zoom and didn’t include a single rabbi (let alone three) — probably wasn’t totally kosher and that Musaiv would probably have to wait a bit longer before she could hit the marriage market again.
She has long sought the Get and Simantov’s past refusals could potentially land him in hot water were he to return to Israel, according to the Times of Israel.
“There are rules of [Jewish] law and it is not done this way. If you want a Jewish Get, you have to do it the way the rules are,” Brooklyn Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, who is also bankrolling Kahana’s rescue effort, told The Post. “This shows his good will, that he wants to do and is doing the best he can at this point. But this is for sure not kosher.”