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Kandahar

The Archives Department recently received a unique item with a fascinating story. The item is a permit for slaughter, granted in 1933 in the city of Kandahar, Afghanistan, by Rabbi Haim Joseph Ben Pinchas, the Rabbi of Teshchnet. The man granted the permit, Menashe Ben Menashe Molayof, was a Singer sewing-machines salesman in the city.

The permit raises many questions: Menashe Molayof is described as “never having learned the laws and rules of slaughter”. Why then, was he given a permit? And why did a city with no Jewish congregation have any need for a slaughterer? And what is a Rabbi from Uzbekistan doing so far away from home?

 

Ben-Zion Yehoshua Raz wrote about this permit’s extraordinary story in his article, "The Escape from Kandahar" (published in Kivunim Hadashim, 2011, 24, 232-243 and also on the Afghani Jews in Israel and the Diaspora website.

 

The permit allowed only for the slaughter of poultry, and Molayof received this permission due to the unusual circumstances of his living situation, despite never having learned the laws and rules of slaughter. Molayof, the only local Jew, took Jews who had escaped from the Soviet Union into his home. These escapees were on their way to the Krachi Port in Pakistan, on their way to making aliyah to Israel. The authorizing Rabbi, who was himself a guest in Menashe’s home, and realizing the complexity of these unique circumstances, was impressed with Molayof’s practical knowledge. The Rabbi wrote:

 
“He knows how to hold a knife and feels its injury and sharpens the knife well until it is suitable for slaughter. When the man himself showed me his knife and I checked the knife as being suitable for slaughter, I stood behind him and saw that he slaughtered well… and so I came to permit and trust his slaughter in the places where no official slaughterers were to be found”.


That is, the permit was given with the purpose of aiding Molayof’s family and the escapees.


The item was donated to the Library by Menashe Molayof’s son, Mr. Moshe Chai Ben Menashe, with the initiative of Ms. Esther Amit, editor of the Afghani Jews in Israel and the Diaspora website. The permit was added to the collection of historical documents, preserved in the National Library’s Department of Archives.