In 2012, Spain passed a law with special provisions for people of Sephardic heritage to become Spanish citizens. Now the Spanish parliament is considering a new law that would allow people who can prove Sephardic heritage to become dual citizens of Spain, and speed up the process. This relaxing of citizenship rules is intended as partial reparation for a “historic mistake” -- in 1492, Spanish Jews were given an awful choice by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand: convert to Christianity, or be forcibly expelled from the country within four months.
If you have Sephardic heritage, or think you might, this is a great time to begin to research your family history! The Sephardic roots booklist below should help you get started -- and it includes several general books about Sephardic history as well. The library also has lots of books about general Jewish genealogy research.
Perhaps you want more background about Spain’s 2012 citizenship law and the revisions currently being considered? Here are some basics to get you started:
- A little more detail about Spain’s 2012 citizenship law, with a lot of history, is in Francisco Macías’s “Alhambra Decree: 521 years later” (In Custodia Legis, Law Library of Congress, 29 March 2013).
- You can read the text -- in Spanish -- of the draft law the Spanish parliament is currently considering at the Spanish Ministry of Justice website: Anteproyecto de Ley nacionalidad sefardies (pdf, Español).
- Current information about acquiring Spanish citizenship, is available from the website of the Spanish Embassy in Washington, DC (in English). Presumably the information here will be updated if and when the new law is made official.
You may also want to mark your calendar for the upcoming exhibit at the Oregon Jewish Museum: Viva Sephardi: A Century of Sephardic Life in Portland. The exhibit opens June 11th, 2014.
Do you have more questions about genealogy research? Are you working on your own family history? If you'd like specific advice or help with your research challenges, do please Ask the Librarian!