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No one comes to worship at the synagogue anymore, but he continues to pray every day and keep kosher, he said.

A couple of years back, he paid a visit to the rabbi of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, who gave Mr. Simentov the authority to kill his own animals because no other qualified Jews could be found for hundreds of miles.

This was not always the case, Mr. Simentov said, explaining that there were more than 40,000 at the turn of the 19th century as Persian Jews fled from forced conversions in neighboring Iran.

The establishment of Israel in 1948 and the 1979 Soviet invasion combined to empty the community.

Mr. Simentov said he preferred the communist period and even the Taliban to the current government, which he calls a “mafia regime.”

He said he was a successful carpet and antique dealer until state customs “stole” a container full of $40,000 worth of his goods on bogus grounds, leaving him with nothing but the synagogue.

At this point, he rubbed his fingers for a handout.

“So what are you going to do for me?” he said.

Although Mr. Simentov’s wife and two daughters left for Israel years ago, he has no plans of joining them any time soon.

He is concerned that there may be a property dispute with Mr. Levin’s son over the synagogue, which is worth a hefty sum for its central location in one of the capital’s main commercial districts.

“Go to Israel? What business do I have there?” he said, adding that he doesn’t speak Hebrew. “Why should I leave?”

In the courtyard below, Shirgul Amiri, 20, watered a bed of pathetic-looking roses.

He said he comes to the synagogue a couple of days a week at his parents’ request to keep Mr. Simentov company, acknowledging that the older man is in a grumpy mood more often than not.

“He drinks a lot and is very impatient,” Mr. Amiri said with a laugh. “But if you had brought a bottle of whiskey, he would have been in heaven.”