Spain Gives Sephardic Jews Citizenship 500 Years After Expulsion

Spain approved a new law granting citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from the Kingdom in 1492 in a bid to amend a “historic error.”

The law will come into effect in October and allow Sephardic Jews to become citizens provided they can prove their connection to Spain and pass a Spanish language test. The law does not require applicants to give up their other nationality or be a resident of Spain. The law will be in effect for three years and could be extended to a fourth before it expires.

Standing outside Congress, Justice Minister Rafael Catala said the legislation has great sentimental value and will serve to strengthen ties between Spain and the Jewish community.

“This is a historic vindication for those who were expelled from Spain,” Catala said, accompanied by Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo and Isaac Querub, head of the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain.

Querub said the approval of the law is a “historic” development for the relationship between the communities, while adding that for Sephardic Jews it comes “500 years late.”

Sephardic Jews who refused to convert to Christianity were expelled by the Catholic monarchs, Queen Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, as part of the nation’s shift toward Roman Catholicism.

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