Spain begins review of Sephardic Jewish citizenship applications

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Spanish officials will begin reviewing citizenship applications by some 4,500 individuals who identified themselves as descendants of Sephardic Jews, the country’s Jewish communities said.

The review is set to begin on Oct. 2 following the adoption and passing earlier this year of Law 12/2015 and a related amendment to the kingdom’s civil code, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, or FCJE, said in a statement it sent out on Wednesday.

The law grants citizenship to people descended from Sephardic Jews.

Facilitating the review is the publication of a decree based on the law. The decree, which is scheduled to be published next week, does not require applicants to renounce other nationalities,  FCJE said.

Under the law approved in Spain’s Parliament in June, the Spanish daily El Pais reported, applicants need not travel to Spain, as proposed in previous amendments that did not pass, but must hire a Spanish notary and pass tests on the Spanish language and history.

Spain’s government and justice ministry officials, who initiated the current legislation in 2012, described it as “a historic repair” for the mass expulsion and persecution of Jews during the 15th and 16th centuries under the Church-led Spanish Inquisition.

Portugal passed and implemented a similar law with fewer stipulations last year. The first approved candidate is expected to be announced in the coming days.

FCJE, which vets applications in Spain under the law in its capacity as consultant and partner of the government on matters concerning the so-called Jewish law of return to Spain, said the majority of applicants were citizens of Venezuela, Morocco and Turkey.

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