LAW OF SPANISH CITIZENSHIP FOR THE SEPHARDIM
Minister of Justice: “Spain closed a door in 1492. This door fully reopens the 1st October 2015”. “Spain is today an open, inclusive, tolerant society”.
Recognition of the outstanding importance of the Sephardim in our history and culture.
Why this law? It is the recognition of a unique case. The Sephardim kept Spain in their hearts for five centuries. When they left Spain they scattered, frequently in small, non-connected communities around the world. But until now they have maintained their memories, songs, language, traditions, prayers and, very significantly, their nostalgia for Sepharad.
Key elements of the law
Unanimity on this law. Support of all the political parties in the Spanish Parliament. Shows Spanish people commitment with the Sephardim
This law has the full support of the Spanish Jewish Community.
This is a unique case. When offering nationality, usually countries require that at least the grandparents are nationals. In this case, it is more than 500 years up the family. Only two countries have managed to do this: Spain and Portugal.
The Sephardim will no longer have to move their residence and renounce their previous nationality.
Why now? This law does not come out of the blue. It culminates a path full of gestures:
19th Century, under Isabel II: Jews are allowed to have their own cemeteries.
In 1900 Jews recovered their right to open synagogues in Spain.
1924: the Sephardim are offered Spanish citizenship by law for the first time. Later on, during the Second World War, Spanish diplomats in Europe used this law to save thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. Some have become “Righteous among Nations”.
1981: Law stating that the Sephardim only have to reside in Spain for two years to obtain citizenship (general rule is 10 years).
1990: Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, handed by today’s king Felive VI.
1992: King Juan Carlos, visited the Synagogue of Madrid and declared: “Sepharad is no longer a nostalgia, but a house where Jews should not feel at home. Because they are at home”.
Two material requirements: Applicants will have to prove:
Sephardim of Spanish origin: “Sephardim” has a broad meaning in Israel. This law applies to the descendants of the Spanish Jews that where expelled from Spain in 1492, regardless of their current religion or residence. The law mentions an open list of possible means of evidence that will be considered globally:
certificates of rabbis or Jewish community Leaders or Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain
the language Ladino or Haketia
The use of “ketubah” under the laws of Castilla
The family names, as long as a competent authority is able to link them to the Spanish Sephardim.
Special relation with Spain.
Official studies related to Spanish history and culture
Language Haketia or Ladino.
Philantropic, cultural or economic activities in benefit of Spain or in benefit of the study of the Sephardi culture.
Exams: candidates will have to go through exams of basic level of Spanish language and Spanish culture, organized by the Cervantes Institute. There are exceptions: for minors and handicapped people. Nationals of countries where Spanish is an official language (i.e. Argentina) won’t need the Spanish exam.
Process: For the first time, the application will be done online (the website is not open yet). The application and all the documents will be sent directly to the relevant authorities through the internet. Payment of a 100 euro fee. Then, applicants will have to travel to Spain once, to appear before a Spanish notary. After that, within 12 months they will receive the final decision and the rest (registering as Spaniards and obtaining the passport) can be done at Embassies or Consulates. Clarification: Only those who have a positive pre-evaluation will have to travel to Madrid. In other words: only those who are likely to succeed will have to do the trip.
It will be in effect on 1st October 2015, for 3 years + 1 extra year upon Government decision.
Complete applications will be decided upon in 12 months (maximum).
The law will be forever in effect for extraordinary cases or when there are humanitarian reasons.