Spain Enables Jews of Spanish Descent to Apply for Citizenship

Interior of Santa Maria la Blanca, Toledo, Spain, a former synagogue.

Interior of Santa Maria la Blanca, Toledo, Spain, a former synagogue.

On June 11, 2015 Spain’s parliament approved a law that provides a direct path to citizenship for descendants of Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492.

Sephardic Jews of Spanish descent will have from October 2015 through October 2018 to apply to receive citizenship. Applicants must prove that they have Sephardic ancestry and a special connection to Spain, as well as pass a test to prove that they have a basic knowledge of the Spanish language.  To see a more complete list of requirements, please click here.  The cost of obtaining a Spanish passport will amount to 100 euros, currently 112 USD.


The law only applies to descendants of Sephardic Jews and not descendants of the Spanish Muslim population, which were expelled in 1609.

In March, Portugal also passed a law creating a path for citizenship for Sephardic Jews of Portuguese descent; the Portugese law has no language requirement or time limit attached.  For more information please click here to go to the Portuguese embassy website which has more information.


Julia Albrecht, a sophomore at Cornell University, and Andrea Ditkoff, a sophomore at Vassar College, are two NYG&B summer interns who are preparing to apply for Spanish citizenship under the new law. Julia Albrecht’s ancestors fled to Turkey during the Spanish Inquisition, where they stayed until the late 1800s.  When the Jewish people of Turkey began to be persecuted, they immigrated to the United States. There, they stayed involved in Sephardic Jewish life by joining the Sephardic Brotherhood and speaking Ladino, a form of Judaeo-Spanish derived from Old Spanish.

Andrea Ditkoff traces her Jewish ancestry from Spain through Greece, before her family came to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. She feels connected to Spain after spending her senior year of high school studying there. Both interns are using the resources of the NYG&B to discover more about their ancestors and pursue the exciting opportunity to obtain Spanish citizenship.


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