Skip to comments.Spain grants right of dual nationality to Sephardi Jews
Posted on 02/10/2014 5:13:52 AM PST by cll
More than 500 years after the Spanish Inquisition, the Spanish government has voted to facilitate the naturalization of Jewish families of Spanish descent, without demanding they give up their other citizenship.
Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain must be rolling in their graves: The government in Madrid on Friday approved legislation that would allow descendents of Jews who were exiled from Spain to be naturalized in the country without having to give up their former citizenship, which had been the law until now.
Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said that Spain "is indebted to Spanish Jews for spreading the Spanish language and culture throughout the world."
"The law that was passed has a deep historical significance not just because it touches on events that happened in our past, which we shouldn't be proud of, such as the banishment of Spanish Jews in 1492, but because it conveys the message that Spain is open and pluralistic," said Ruiz-Gallardon.
"Now, the doors have opened," he said, remarking that several exiled families had held onto the keys to their homes in Spain since the Inquisition some five centuries ago.
Applicants will have to prove their Spanish heritage through using their name or language, or by genealogy, in addition to an approval by the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities. Applicants need not be religious Jews, the Spanish justice minister said.
The law potentially allows an estimated 3.5 million residents of countries where many Sephardi 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 Sephardi Jews to seek Spanish nationality without giving up their citizenship," Lynne Winters, the director of the American Sephardi Federation, told Reuters by telephone.
An Israeli official involved in the new procedures responded coolly to the Spanish announcement.
"It's an interesting development, but it is far from simple. The federation will also ask for the parents' ketubah [religious marriage document], which must be signed by a Sephardi rabbi, not a Mizrahi or Ashkenazi rabbi," he said.
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.
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.
An interesting follow-on to our earlier discussion about Spanish rescue of Jews during the Holocaust.
One of my high school friends is a Sephardic Jew, but I don’t think he’s inclined to go claim his Spanish citizenship.
It’ll be very interesting if many of those Hispanic Sephardic Jews make aliyah.
It is not actually true that surnames ending in “ez” are of Jewish origin, although many people of Jewish origin used those surnames. Asturian patronymics ended in “ez” (Gallego and Portuguese patronymics, on the other hand, ended in “es”) with Rodrigo, the son of Gonzalo Pérez, having the name “Rodrigo González,” Sancho, the son of Rodrigo González, having the name “Sancho Rodríguez,” and Pedro, the son of Sancho Rodríguez, having the name “Pedro Sánchez.” When Jews in Spain had to adopt surnames, many just followed the Asturian custom in order to fit in, but Jews were a minority of those who bore them; the Spanish surnames with the highest percentage of Jewish bearers likely were the more overtly Catholic-sounding ones, like San Miguel or “De Jesús,” which were often selected by conversos precisely as an attempt to have their Catholicism not be questioned.
This new law presumably applies to Spanish Jews who weren’t conversos, but who left Spain in the 15th century in order to keep practicing their faith, so I don’t think that any Hernándezes ir Pérezes or Gutiérrezes need apply irrespective of their genealogy.
I had a lot of Jewish classmates, but it never occurred to me to wonder of they were Ashkenazim or Sephardim. They were just the kids with the good grades, with a few exceptions.
I once heard a talk in which the speaker cited the case of a Turkish consul posted to Chicago. His wife spoke no English but she didn't have any trouble--she could go to stores in the Hispanic neighborhoods and speak to the storekeepers in Spanish because she was a Sephardic Jew.
Ladino, the original language of Spanish-origin Jews, is an old version of Spanish with some Hebrew and Arabic thrown in.
As a Catholic who is doing RCIA, one of the women canidates to be fully recieved into the Church this coming Easter, as well as finishing their two final initiation sacrements, she is of Spanish/Purto Rican origins, I wonder if her last name has either the es or ez.
As regards to the RCIA ministry, I am helping one of the two parish deacons who heads it up.
I think Columbus had six Jews sailing with the expedition.
Isn’t it strange that as Ferdinand and Isabella kicked them out that a new world was about to be found wherein Jews might thrive?
Pardon my ignorance, what’s RCIA?
And I wonder if the Israelis would allow us to make Aliyah.
RCIA means Rite of Christian Initation for Adults, a ministry of evangelization in the Catholic Church.
That explains a lot about my last name, which is related not to a personal name, but the the name of a crop, followed by ES.
Like baptism? Thanks!
Yes, baptism, confirmation, communion.
Could have been found one day earlier, Columbus delayed a day due to harbor congestion caused by ships carrying Jews. The expulsion began four months after March 30. Crew boarded August 1, Columbus made it out August 3. First line of Columbus' diary, In the same month in which their Majesties issued the edict that all Jews should be driven out of the kingdom and its territories, in the same month they gave me the order to undertake with sufficient men my expedition of discovery to the Indies
If youd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
A cute gesture, I doubt many will take it up.
Seems Columbus knew what he was doing.
Was Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator, who during the Holocaust recognized as Spanish citizens the descendants of the Sephardic Jews expel led from Spain in 1492 by the Catholic Kings, opening for them the doors of Spain, even though Spain was devastated and impoverished after a bloody civil war. Thanks to Franco more than 60,000 Jews received refuge in Spain savings their lives. That was in stark contrast with FDR policy of closing entrance in U.S. trying to scape Nazi occupied countries.
FRANCISCO FRANCO, BENEFACTOR OF THE JEWS: However general history may judge him, in Jewish history, he shall certainly occupy a special place... Jews should honor and bless the memory of this great benefactor of the Jewish people...who neither sought nor reaped any benefit from what he did.
—From a four page obituary in The American Sephardi Journal of the Sephardic Studies Program of Yeshiva University, volume IX, 1978.
James Michener in Iberia, 1968, page 547: “...Generalissimo Franco is highly regarded by Jews; during the worst days of World War II, when pressures from Hitler were at their heaviest, Franco refused to issue anti-Jewish edicts and instead provided a sanctuary, never violated, for Jews who managed to make it to Spain. Many thousands of Jews owe their lives to Franco, and this is not forgotten.”
The reaction of the Western democracies was in stark contrast with that of Fascist Spain. General Francos regime, even though his country was devastated and impoverished after a bloody civil war, recognized all the Sephardic Jews living in the Nazi occupied territories as Spanish citizens. That measure allowed them to return to Spain- the beloved Sepharad, land of their ancestors where they lived a golden age more than five centuries ago. Francos government also collaborated with the Holy See and several South American countries in providing false passports for Jews trying to flee the Nazi scourge. More than 50,000 Jews were saved thanks to the Spanish government actions.