Spain grants right of dual nationality to Sephardic Jews

MADRID Fri Feb 7, 2014 1:00pm EST

MADRID (Reuters) - The Spanish government approved a law on Friday allowing descendents of Sephardic Jews expelled from the country in 1492 to seek Spanish nationality without giving up their current citizenship.

Spain's Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said Spain owed the Sephardic community a debt for spreading the Spanish language and culture around the world. The word Sephardic comes from Sefarad, or Spain in Hebrew.

"The law we've passed today has a deep historic meaning: not only because it concerns events in our past of which we should not be proud, like the decree to expel the Jews in 1492, but because it reflects the reality of Spain as an open and plural society," said Gallardon.

Around 300,000 Jews lived in Spain before the 'Reyes Catolicos', Catholic monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, ordered Jews and Muslims to convert to the Catholic faith or leave the country.

The old Jewish quarters in medieval Spanish cities such as Cordoba and Toledo, where Jews lived among Christians and Muslims before the Catholic victory, making rich contributions to science, music and literature, now attract thousands of tourists every year.

The law potentially allows an estimated 3.5 million residents of countries where many Sephardic Jews eventually settled, such as Israel, France, the United States, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina and Chile, to apply for Spanish nationality.

"We're very pleased to hear the Spanish government has facilitated the process of allowing Sephardic Jews to seek Spanish nationality without giving up their citizenship," Lynne Winters, director of the American Sephardi Federation in New York told Reuters by telephone.

Spanish law does not normally allow dual citizenship except for people from neighboring Andorra or Portugal or former colonies such as the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea or Latin American countries.

Prospective applicants must prove their Sephardic background through their surnames, language or ancestry and get a certificate from the federation of Jewish communities in Spain.

Applicants do not have to be practicing Jews, Gallardon said.

"Many .. kept the keys of the house from which they were expelled, now they have the door open," he said.

(Reporting By Rodrigo de Miguel,; Writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Tracy Rucinski and Anthony Barker)

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Comments (3)
jehsom wrote:
Does anyone know the actual procedures to begin this application process? Or are they even defined yet?

Feb 08, 2014 10:44pm EST  --  Report as abuse
BarryKaplan wrote:
It now seems that after 522 years, Spain is trying to make amends.

BLIND VISION, the epic historical novel by the award winning best selling author, Vivian Jeanette Kaplan, is now available on Amazon. It is the story of the Inquisition in Spain and the expulsion of the Secret or Crypto-Jews from there in 1492, of their descendants living today, many in secrecy. They call themselves B’nei Anousim (Hebrew for sons of those forced to convert – Marrano means “filthy pig” in Spanish and should never be used. It was the extremely derogatory word used by the Spaniards to refer to the Conversos in the 15th century and unfortunately is commonplace today). It also finally uncovers the involvement and true identity, beyond any reasonable doubt, of Christopher Columbus who left Spain with his three ships on his voyage to the New World, on the exact same day of expulsion, with several Jews aboard.

The title BLIND VISION comes from the impassioned plea of one of most famous Court Jews of the time, Don Isaac Abravanel, Chief Royal Tax Collector of Spain, to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, to stop their planned Edict of Expulsion. Rabbi Don Abraham Seneor, Chief Rabbi of Spain, was at his side. In his speech, Don Isaac said “For generations to come it will be told and retold how unkind was your faith and how blind was your vision”.

Maybe Spain has finally got the message.

Feb 10, 2014 1:15pm EST  --  Report as abuse
BarryKaplan wrote:
It now seems that after 522 years, Spain is trying to make amends.

BLIND VISION, the epic historical novel by the award winning best selling author, Vivian Jeanette Kaplan, is now available on Amazon. It is the story of the Inquisition in Spain and the expulsion of the Secret or Crypto-Jews from there in 1492, of their descendants living today, many in secrecy. They call themselves B’nei Anousim (Hebrew for sons of those forced to convert – Marrano means “filthy pig” in Spanish and should never be used. It was the extremely derogatory word used by the Spaniards to refer to the Conversos in the 15th century and unfortunately is commonplace today). It also finally uncovers the involvement and true identity, beyond any reasonable doubt, of Christopher Columbus who left Spain with his three ships on his voyage to the New World, on the exact same day of expulsion, with several Jews aboard.

The title BLIND VISION comes from the impassioned plea of one of most famous Court Jews of the time, Don Isaac Abravanel, Chief Royal Tax Collector of Spain, to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, to stop their planned Edict of Expulsion. Rabbi Don Abraham Seneor, Chief Rabbi of Spain, was at his side. In his speech, Don Isaac said “For generations to come it will be told and retold how unkind was your faith and how blind was your vision”.

Maybe Spain has finally got the message.

Feb 10, 2014 1:17pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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