Offer of Spanish citizenship for Jews may require changes to achieve fairness
Reader comment on: Muslims Angry Over Spanish Citizenship for Jews
Submitted by Charles Stein, Dec 25, 2012 16:35
There are probably thousands of Sephardic Jews in the Americas and in Europe who are erroneously denied Spanish citizenship under the so-called Right of Return. The article states that " Anousim," the Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity in Spain, are not entitled to return under the offer. It appears to make sense that under the limited offer of citizenship that Jews who are secular and unfamiliar with the Jewish faith should seek religious training and undergo formal conversion. However, descendants of Jews who were forcibly converted and secretly practiced their beloved faith in Spain and who were able to escape from the Spanish Inquisition to Holland, Italy, Greece, and Turkey and there resumed their Jewish faith should be granted full Spanish citizenship under the offer. This assumes that the present day descendants are practicing Jews.
Those descendants of Sephardic families that were forcibly converted to Christianity as stated above and are able to trace their return to the practice of Judaism in the Americas and Europe where they were welcomed, are entitled to the Right of Return. It's not that thousands will return; the principle is important! It is important to understand that thousands of Jews were forcibly converted during national riots in Spain in 1391. Many were slaughtered ninety years before the Spanish Inquisition was first implemented by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1481 and lasted for over 300 years.
Spain is a Catholic nation today , as it was during the hundreds of years of Jewish persecution. Credit must be given to the government of Spain for its efforts to give Spanish citizenship to the descendants of Spanish Jews. However, it has taken a long time for Spain to move forward from symbolic gestures.
In 1992 I was the Research Chairman of a Committee appointed by the Jewish Federation in Middlesex County, N.J. to commemorate the 500 th anniversary of the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain. An entire week was dedicated to: lectures, an original play, Sephardic music of the period, and other activities. I was privileged to write a letter to the King of Spain (without rancor) including a petition with many signatures requesting that King Carlos and his wife, the Queen, issue and declare a proclamation at the 1992 World Olympics, commemorating the contributions to Spain made by Jewish scholars, poets, writers, physicians, philosophers, diplomats, and advisors to the Crown and also to pay homage to the Anousim (the converted ones) of the Jewish people and others who suffered during the Inquisitions. Many Jews gave their lives to sanctify God's name.
I received a short, gracious letter from an advisor of the king stating that the king would appear at a Jewish synagogue in Spain and thank the Jewish people for their contributions to Spain, which he did.
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