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November 22, 2012 3:41 pm

Spain to Speed up Naturalization Process for Sephardic Jews Whose Ancestors Fled Inquisition

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Sephardi Jew observing Havdalah ritual c. 14th century. photo: Wikipedia

Spain said Thursday it would be taking measures to speed up the naturalization of Jews of Sephardic descent whose ancestors fled the country more than five centuries ago after being told to convert to Catholicism.

Many Sephardi Jews fled to North Africa and Turkey after the 1492 decree. During the inquisition those who failed to flee or convert were killed.

For decades Sephardic Jews have been allowed to seek citizenship in Spain, but the announcement Thursday gives them special status, setting up a process by which the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities is able to vet the ancestry of the applicant, then forward it on to the proper authorities.

The Associated Press reports that the federation believes thousands of Sephardi Jews could benefit, particularly those living in Latin America and Turkey.

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