Among the most exciting moments in this process of Redemption is watching the pieces come together. Anyone can do this. (You don't have to be a prophet!) Just by being an observer of the human scene,...current events, talk radio, internet news and daily experiences,--all this can be eye-opening about how the Rebbe's prophecy is being fulfilled.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

500 Years Later: Spain Offers Citizenship to Jews Expelled by Inquistion

Spain is coming to terms with the torture, humiliation and death they inflicted on its Jews many centuries ago.

The Telegraph (UK) Sunday, March 30, 2014
Spain invites descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled 500 years ago to return
Huge interest among Sephardic Jews worldwide in taking up offer of Spanish citizenship
The Court of the Inquisition by Spanish artist Francisco Goya. The accused sit in chains and pointed hats. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/CC BY)

By Fiona Govan, Madrid and Robert Tait in Jerusalem

"The law we've approved has a deep historic meaning…because it concerns events in our past of which we should not be proud, like the decree to expel the Jews in 1492…” - Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon

More than five centuries after Spain's Jews were forced to flee, convert to Catholicism or face execution without trial, their descendants are being invited to return and take up dual citizenship.
Spain's government has approved a draft bill that will allow descendants of those Sephardic Jews who were expelled in 1492, under the crusading Catholic rule of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, to seek dual citizenship.
The new law would offer the prospect of an EU passport to up to 3.5 million people worldwide, many in Israel but others thought to reside in France, the United States, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina and Chile.
Spanish consulates in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are among those said to be facing a flood of requests for more information since the plan was announced.
An estimated 300,000 Jews resided in Spain before the infamous Spanish Inquisition of the 15th Century, when the "Reyes Catolicos" reconquered Spain from its Arab rulers and ordered Jews and Muslims to convert to the Catholic faith or leave the country.
Two years ago Spain announced that it would grant automatic citizenship to Jews of Sephardic descent in a gesture of reconciliation but there were few takers as the current law stipulates that they had first to renounce their existing citizenship.
But the conservative government of the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy is now going further and will make it easier for those with Sephardic roots to take up dual citizenship.
"The law we've approved has a deep historic meaning: not only because it concerns events in our past of which we should not be proud, like the decree to expel the Jews in 1492, but because it reflects the reality of Spain as an open and plural society," Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said after the cabinet approved the draft law last Friday.
Prospective applicants must prove their Sephardic background through their surnames, language or ancestry and get a certificate from the federation of Jewish communities in Spain.
Applicants do not have to be practising Jews, Mr Gallardon said and those who have knowledge of the Ladino language – the Judeo Spanish tongue spoken by the Sephardic Jews - will also be considered.
The word Sephardic comes from Sefarad, or Spain in Hebrew, and those who can prove their origins will have two year deadline to apply for citizenship once the bill is approved by Congress. The law potentially applies to an estimated 3.5 million residents of countries where many Sephardic Jews eventually settled, and was welcomed by Jewish leaders internationally.
"We're very pleased to hear the Spanish government has facilitated the process of allowing Sephardic Jews to seek Spanish nationality without giving up their citizenship," said Lynne Winters, director of the American Sephardi Federation in New York.
Dr Abraham Haim, president of the council of sephardi and oriental communities of Jerusalem, called it "a very advanced step".
Maya Weiss-Tamir, an Israeli lawyer who handles application for Spanish citizenship, said she had received many phone calls from people with family names that appear on the legislation's list.
Her office already inundated with the files of Jewish exiles from Spain but said many would-be applicants had difficulty proving their ancestral ties to the country.
"People want to work, to live there, and there are sentimental considerations too," she told Israel's Ynet news site. "[But] on the way proof was lost, and there was a Holocaust, but there are people who have data that goes back many years.
"We're talking about links that go back more than 500 years. Proving such a historical link is not simple for historical and objective reasons."
But she said the new legislation would change rules that require Israeli applicants to live in Spain for two years while giving up their Israeli passport to qualify for citizenship.
"The law will lighten the burden on the descendants of the expelled and will define their unusual circumstances," she added.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have used their family backgrounds to apply for and receive EU passports in recent years. Many have taken up the citizenship of Germany and Poland, despite their historical associations with the Holocaust.

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