The Hispanic-Jewish Foundation Board (Fundación HispanoJudía) erected a monument in the port of Cartagena in Spain on Friday, marking 530 years since the Alhambra Decree that saw the expulsion of Jews in Spain in 1492.
However, Jews were allowed to stay in Spain when the decree was enforced under the condition that they convert to Christianity as conversos. The edict was issued by the Catholic Monarchs: Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon, and they expelled all practicing Jews from their respective kingdoms.
The edict stated that "all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age they may be, who live, reside, and exist in our said kingdoms and lordships," must leave. Those who did not leave or convert to Christianity were sentenced to death. However, the king and queen considered the possibility that conversos were secretly continuing to practice Judaism. Approximately 300,000 Jews fled Spain or converted to Christianity in the end.
The monument's location, recently put up by the Hispanic-Jewish Foundation, titled El Abrazo (The Embrace), was at the same place where Jews departed Spain by sea as a result of the decree. The monument is seen as "a gesture of the new relationship between the Hispanic and Jewish worlds," the foundation said.
Spanish Jewry that left due to the decree went to form some of the largest Sephardic Jewish communities in the diaspora.
“The decree was the last stroke of antisemitism that ended one of the most magnificent Jewish diaspora communities in history,” said David Hatchwell, the foundation's president. “What occurred in the Iberian Peninsula over the following 500 years was the cruel and complete eradication of anything associated with Judaism. However, Spain is currently experiencing a revival of its Jewish community.”
The Alhambra Decree was in effect until 1869 when the Spanish Constitution allowed freedom of religion, and the country did not annul the decree until 1968, nearly five centuries after it was enforced. Spain established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1986. Nearly three decades later, a law was passed in Spain that allowed those who can prove they are descendants of Sephardic Jews to obtain Spanish citizenship.
Hadassah Brenner contributed to this report.