European Jewish Congress
Elderly Sephardic Jews exempted from language proficiency to gain Spanish citizenship
Spain
Elderly Sephardic Jews exempted from language proficiency to gain Spanish citizenship

In an effort to encourage more Sephardic Jews to exercise their right to become Spanish nationals, the Ministry of Justice has announced that the requirement that individuals take tests in the Spanish language and in their knowledge of Spain’s culture and Constitution is to be waived for all those aged 70 or over.

The Sephardic Jews are those who belong to the ethnic group which established itself in the Iberian Peninsula around a thousand years ago but were expelled from the country in 1492, and the law allowing them to apply for Spanish nationality was introduced in 2015 as a belated move to correct a “historical injustice”. It is designed to affect the descendants of those who were forced to convert to Catholicism, leave the country or be burned at the stake by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain over 500 years ago following the completion of the Reconquista.

Rafael Catalá, the Minister for Justice, stated that the intention was to make Spain more “open, diverse and tolerant”, while for José Manuel García-Margallo, then Minister for Foreign Affairs, it marked the repayment of a “historical debt”.

But until now the response has been far from overwhelming. Since the law came into force on October 1, 2015 a total of 4,919 Jews have obtained Spanish nationality, but only 387 of them have done so through the terms of this legislation, and one of the main reasons, according to the Sephardic community in Turkey, is the obstacle which the language and socio-cultural knowledge tests represent. Most of the Sephardics in Istanbul are elderly, and find it hard to acquire the knowledge necessary, and as a result, only 200 people from Turkey have applied to take the controversial exams: the little Spanish they speak is derived from the version which was spoken in the 15th century, and is not useful to them for this purpose.

In the light of this, some are reported to have opted for Portuguese nationality instead, and while the rectification announced by the Ministry last week is welcomed many feel that the tests should be abandoned completely.

The dispersion of the Sephardic community after 1492 is illustrated by the fact that since 2015 nationality applications have been received from over 100 countries, the most numerous being from South America, Morocco, Israel, Turkey, the USA and Pakistan.

Click here to read the full article in Spanish News Today

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Life in Israel
  • Massive section of Western Wall and Roman theatre uncovered after 1,700 years
    Archaeologists are one step closer to solving the riddle of what took place in Jerusalem following the destruction of the city by Romans in 70 CE.

    On Friday, October 20, 2017 Massive section of Western Wall and Roman theatre uncovered after 1,700 years
  • Israel targets fashion industry over underweight models
    Israeli lawmakers want to tighten a ban on the employment of underweight models and on the undeclared digital slimming-down of fashion images, amid concern that the measures are being routinely flouted even as they are adopted abroad.

    On Friday, October 20, 2017 Israel targets fashion industry over underweight models
  • Work on Israel-Cyprus-Greece electricity link to start in 2018
    A Cypriot official said work on an electric cable linking the power grids of Israel, Cyprus and Greece is on track to start in the first quarter of 2018 after Greek and Cypriot regulators approved the project.

    On Friday, October 20, 2017 Work on Israel-Cyprus-Greece electricity link to start in 2018
  • In Israel, ultra-Orthodox women emerge as high-tech entrepreneurs
    While Silicon Valley is just beginning to confront decades of sexism and discrimination, female founders in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community say their segregated gender roles have an unintended benefit -- encouraging growing ranks of women entrepreneurs.

    On Friday, October 20, 2017 In Israel, ultra-Orthodox women emerge as high-tech entrepreneurs
  • First fully disabled-accessible synagogue opened in Jerusalem
    Construction of the first fully disabled-accessible synagogue in Jerusalem is about to be finished, giving disabled worshipers easy access to the compound, with comfortable seating arrangements for wheelchair-bound visitors, Braille bibles and more.

    On Wednesday, October 11, 2017 First fully disabled-accessible synagogue opened in Jerusalem
  • Survey: 60 percent of Arab Israelis have a positive view of the state
    A poll of Israeli Arabs has found that sixty percent surveyed said they had a favourable view of the state, while 37% said their view was unfavourable.

    On Wednesday, October 04, 2017 Survey: 60 percent of Arab Israelis have a positive view of the state
  • Israel's trade with Russia leaps by 25 percent
    Trade between Israel and Russia has grown this year by 25 percent, officials from both countries revealed, amid complications with other Russian trading partners.

    On Wednesday, October 04, 2017 Israel's trade with Russia leaps by 25 percent
  • Israel aims to double the number of people working in hi-tech
    The Israel Innovation Authority aims to double the number of high-tech workers in the country over the next decade, while encouraging companies in older industry to use more technology and become more innovative, the authority said in its annual report released on Sunday.

    On Wednesday, October 04, 2017 Israel aims to double the number of people working in hi-tech
  • 20,000 Gazan lulavs arrive in Israel
    A shipment of 20,000 date palm fronds were transported on Monday from the Gaza Strip to Israel where they were to be sold for use in a traditional Jewish religious ritual during the coming Sukkot holiday, the Defence Ministry said.

    On Wednesday, October 04, 2017 20,000 Gazan lulavs arrive in Israel
  • Israeli intelligence helped to thwart dozens of terror attacks around the world
    The Israeli intelligence community has shared information with other countries over the past two years that has helped thwart dozens of terror attacks about to be perpetrated by Islamists who were in contact with members of Islamic State and Middle Eastern factions identified with Al-Qaida.

    On Thursday, September 28, 2017 Israeli intelligence helped to thwart dozens of terror attacks around the world
President's Page Security and Crisis Centre by EJC European Parliament Working Group On Antisemitism