Herat officials said there are four Jewish synagogues and other sites belonged to Jews who lived in Afghanistan during 1980s.
Activists Call For Maintenance Of Jewish Sites In Herat
Residents and activists in Herat province urged government to rehabilitate synagogues and other historical sites belonged to Jewish people who lived in Afghanistan during 1980s.
One of four synagogues belonged to Jews who lived in Herat province – in the west of Afghanistan – is under construction by the provincial directorate of information and culture, local officials said.
Thousands of Jews came in came to Afghanistan from Iran during Nader Shah’s reign when limitations were imposed on religious minorities in that country. They lived in an area called Mohmand which was then renamed to Moosaeeha’s (Jews) region.
The Jews were living peacefully along their Afghan brothers in Herat until the civil war began in late 1980s. They started leaving the country in 1987.
Herat residents have good memories from them. They Jews mostly involved in trade such as silk, clothes and groceries.
“We had good relationships. We had family relationships and were inviting each others and we did participate in each others'ceremonies, but now they are not here,” said Mohammad Nader, a resident of Moosaeeha area in Herat.
“One of the Jews who was our nieghbour married with a Muslim daugther who is our relative. On that time I was young and I was playing with their children,” said Abdul Rashid, a resident of Herat’s Old City.
Four Synagogues and a bathroom have remained of the Jewish people and all of them have been listed in the United Nations’ cultural heritages list.
When the Jews Herat, out of the Synagogues four, the Gorkiya Synagogue was changed into a mosque, Shamayel Synagogue was changed into a school.
Yoha Synagogue is now under reconstruction by government. Gorgia Synagogue is partly damaged, according to officials.
“We have started rehabilitating Yoha Synagogue and we will try to preserve these ancient sites,” Zalmai Safa, head of Herat’s Historical Sites Protection Department.
In addition to the synagogues, there is a cemetery of the Jews where they have buried their ancestors. Every year, a number of Herat’s Jewish people visit the cemetery to rebuild their ancestors’ graves.
“Three synagogues were rehabilitated from 1991 up to 2011 and one of them has been named Bilal Mosque,” Humayun Ahmadi, an archeologist from Herat said.
“When the Jews went abroad. Many years later, a number of them came to Herat and assigned me as the cemetery guard. They visit Herat every year," Abdul Aziz, Jewish cemetery's guard said.