Sephardic Jews have been invited back to Spain after a 500 year exile.
Spain’s justice minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon announced a plan in November, which would give descendants of Spain’s original Jewish community (known as Sephardic Jews) a fast-track option to Spanish citizenship. “In the long journey Spain has undertaken to rediscover a part of itself, few occasions are as moving as today,” he said.
Anyone who can prove their Spanish Jewish origins will be given Spanish nationality.
More that 500 years ago, some 300,000 Jews lived in Spain. It was one of the largest communities of Jews in the world, reports the BBC. They left during the infamous Spanish Inquisition of the 15th Century.
The news has spread quickly among Sephardic Jews worldwide, with the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities reporting that there were about 6,000 applications filed during the first month. One of them was reportedly from an unnamed member of the US Congress, reports MSN.
The fast-track procedure hasn’t fully been worked out, and some have experienced difficulties obtaining a passport due to being secular, converted to another religion, or non-practicing Jews.
However, the secretary general of the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities, Mauricio Toledano, said that when the details are worked out and the law is presented to parliament, it will likely welcome all Sephardic Jews regardless of religious practice.
There have been movements to bring Sephardic Jews back to Spain for decades, so it’s unclear why the Spanish government has chosen to make it happen now.
Some have guessed that bringing back Sephardic Jews might help boost Spain’s troubled economy, though others doubt that returning Jews will actually establish roots in the country.
Others have speculated that Spain made the offer to appease Israel after Madrid supported last year’s Palestinian bid for a United Nations seat.
Either way, some Muslim scholars have denounced the offer as unfair, since their ancestors were also run out of Spain during the Inquisition. But thus far, their descendants haven’t received an invitation back.
Why do you think Spain is inviting Sephardic Jews back to the country?