Portugal follows Spain in granting citizenship to descendants of exiled Sephardic Jews

Just 3 years after initially being granted refuge in Portugal after fleeing the Spanish expulsion of 1492, the exiled Jews again faced expulsion.



Portugal intends to follow Spain’s lead in granting citizenship to to the descendants of Sephardic Jews exiled in the fifteenth century, the country’s tourism minister said this week.

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

A man holds a Torah scroll during the festive procession returning it to Trancoso. Photo: Courtesy Michael Freund

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

While Jews 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.

Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon recently submitted 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 of Jewish Communities 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.

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.

Marion Fischel contributed to this report

View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-Features/Portugal-to-grant-Sephardic-Jews-citizenship-341523