Spain welcomes back Sephardic Jews

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King Felipe VI.

KING Felipe VI spoke to representatives of Spain’s Jewish community in a special ceremony to celebrate legislation that will allow people of Sephardic origin to claim Spanish citizenship.

The Sephardic ancestry law will allow those who can prove they are direct descendents of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain over 500 years ago. Coming into effect on October 1, 4,307 individuals from Venezuela, Turkey, and Brazil among other countries have already obtained citizenship through their ancestry. In March the Justice Ministry estimated that up to 90,000 people worldwide could be eligible to apply. 

The conditions for citizenship will focus on provable links to both the Sephardic community and to Spain, through certificates, family connections and established links and knowledge. 

At Madrid’s Royal Palace, Felipe VI said to Jewish representatives “I want to tell you that you’re back home, that you have returned home forever.” He noted it was a “privilege” to be able to write “a new page in history.”

Isaac Querub, president of the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities, said that the Sephardim had become “the Spaniards without a homeland” by treasuring their centuries old connection to the land through language, family and culture. 

In 1492 well over a 100,000 Jews were expelled from Spain amid the turmoil of the inquisition, told to leave the country by the end of July, or convert to Christianity. 

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