Reading of the Torah according to the Sephardic tradition./ Photo: Sagie Maoz, on Wikipedia
Eduardo González. 30/09/2016
On Saturday 1 October, the law on the granting of the Spanish nationality to the Sephardim, a norm aimed at repairing the historical injustice committed in 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs, turns one year.
According to the last data provided to The Diplomat by the Ministry of Justice, corresponding to 28 September, since the day on which the law came into force 4,538 nationalities have been granted to Sephardic Jews, which means an increase of more than 5,000% in the annual rate of the granting of citizenships.
In all, 4,302 of these nationalities were granted by letter of nature in October 2015 through Royal Decree, under the protection of the single transitional provision of the law, and another twelve were granted by residence, under the protection of the first final provision of the law, until reaching 4,314 in 2015.
In 2016, 224 nationalities have been granted, 220 of them by letter of nature through Royal Decree under the protection of the single transitional provision of the law, one by residence under the protection of the first final provision of the law and only three nationalities directly in accordance with articles 1 and 2 of the law. The number of Sephardim that became Spanish citizens between 2006 and 2015, by letter of nature or residence, was of 815, with an average of 90 per year (especially between 2007 and 2010, with more than 750).
On the other hand, from 1 October 2015 to 28 September 2016, the Ministry of Justice had received 2,864 applications, of which only 270 came from Israel, a country in which it is estimated that around one million and a half Sephardim reside.
The number of applications does not even reach 0.1% of the total of Sephardim estimated in the world
Argentina is the country with the highest number of applications (347, for an estimated community of 50,000 people), followed by Israel, Venezuela (268), Brazil (170), the United States (166, for more than 300,000 people), Mexico (143), Colombia (127) and Canada (112). Significantly, from France, with a community of more than 360,000 Sephardim, only 51 people have applied for the nationality. From Turkey, where 26,000 Sephardim reside, only 95 applications have been processed, whereas from Morocco, where there are approximately 10,000 Sephardim, only 68 people have applied for it in this neighbouring country.
In the world, there are around 3,5 million Sephardim. Nevertheless, the law that is now one year old establishes that the Spanish citizenship will only be granted to “all those Sephardim who prove that condition and a special connection with Spain, even if they do not have a legal residence in our country”.
This requirement will have to be accompanied by a certificate issued by the President of the Permanent Committee of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, the president or an analogue position of the Jewish Community of the area of residence or hometown of the person concerned or the competent rabbinical authority, legally recognized in the country of habitual residence of the applicant.
Besides, the law demands some general knowledge, in particular, the learning of the Spanish language (an A2 level or higher), which is quite different of the Ladino spoken by many Sephardim and whose “use as a family language” appears among the requirements of the law, and the knowledge of the Spanish Constitution and the Spanish cultural and social reality.