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Portugal to grant Sephardic Jews citizenship

February 15, 2014 21:57

Jews fleeing the Spanish expulsion of 1492 were initially granted refuge in Portugal, but again faced expulsion just three years later.

A man holds a Torah scroll during the festive procession returning it to Trancoso.

Man holding Torah returning to Trancoso, Portugal 370. (photo credit:Courtesy Michael Freund)

Portugal intends to follow Spain’s lead in granting citizenship to the descendants of Sephardic Jews exiled in the 15th century, the country’s tourism minister said over the weekend.

Portuguese Minister Adolfo Mesquita Nunes told Channel One’s View of the World program, broadcast on Saturday night, that the wording of a draft bill, similar to that announced by Spain just over a week ago, will soon be ready.

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While Jews who fleeing the Spanish expulsion of 1492 were initially granted refuge in Portugal, they again faced expulsion at the hands of Manuel I of Portugal three years later. Jews remaining in the country faced harshly oppressive policies.

Nunes, who was in Israel last week on a state mission, was quoted by Portuguese media as saying that he intended to bolster Israeli tourism to his country.

Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon recently submitted a draft legislation, on behalf of the cabinet, to the legislature that would grant citizenship to anyone who could prove Sephardic Jewish identity or a “special connection” to Spain.

An applicant will be required to present a certificate either from the Federation or from a recognized rabbinical body overseas.

“People who speak Ladino [Judeo-Spanish] will also be considered, and those who have Sephardi last names [will be accepted; however] how the list will be compiled and which names will appear on it is at present a complicated challenge, and any lists that have been published so far, claiming to be official, are not,” a spokeswoman for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain told The Jerusalem Post.

Marion Fischel contributed to this report.

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