500 Years Later, Spain Invites Jews Back
Spain looking to 'rediscover itself,' says justice minister
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2013 10:47 AM CST
Cordoba Synagogue is a historic edifice in the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba, Spain built in 1315. It's been 500 years since Spain forced out nearly all the Jews who once lived there, but now it is inviting...   (Pietro Pecco)

(Newser) – More than 500 years after Spain expelled or forcibly converted its once thriving Jewish population, the country has announced plans to allow descendents of those Sephardic Jews a fast-track to Spanish passports and citizenship, reports the BBC. In the 15th century, there were around 300,000 Jews in Spain, but in 1492 they were ordered to convert to Christianity or leave. Many of those who left went to North Africa or the Ottoman Empire; indeed, even today 90% of the 100,000 Jews in Turkey are descendents of Sephardic Jews.

However, the conversos, those who converted to Christianity and stayed in Spain, were targeted heavily by the Inquisition. "In the long journey Spain has undertaken to rediscover a part of itself, few occasions are as moving as today," said Spain's justice minister when he made his announcement in November. In the first month alone, there were 6,000 inquiries about regaining citizenship. However, the details of the new policy are still being worked out, and some have complained that the policy of return only applies to still practicing Jews, not to secular Jews or Christian converts. And Muslim groups have pointed out they were kicked out of Spain at the same time, but no one is inviting them back.

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Mar 7, 2013 5:40 PM CST
I always wondered why everyone except the people who know the term call all Hebrews "Jews". The term "Jew" or "Jewish" came only after the state of Judea was established by Judah. Israelites are not Jews but Hebrew or Israelis.
Mar 7, 2013 2:34 PM CST
Arab occupied territories should also allow the Jews to return, a million were booted out and their money stolen. Cairo should build a Synagogue within a shopping center and give all returning Jews 20% off all purchases as reparations.
Mar 7, 2013 1:18 PM CST
Okay boys and girls.......notice the year the Jewish community was expelled from Spain. 1492.....what does that year reveal to you? In 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered America. Why? What happened to his family...where were they sent?...they landed in Genoa Italy where his father worked as a weaver. Consequently, upon America's discovery...the Italians sank their claws into the discovery. Now Columbus was Italian.... Shortly after the 2,000 Presidential elections, I sent a letter to Sen. John McCain addressing this issue. Sen. McCain was supportive of my thinking and asked that I pursue the acknowledgement of Columbus being Spanish through my Tempe,AZ school system. While I dropped Sen McCains letter copy along with mine, I recieved zero response... Thusly, I took it upon myself to write to the King of Spain and asked his Majesty if he could please clear up this mystery. On Oct 14, 2009, Columbus's writings proved he was Spanish. All this during the time scientist dug up his families graves and DNA tested to prove once again he was Spanish. In 2009 National Geographic placed the finding world wide. "The Origins of Columbus"...one hour special. Thus the 500 year myth came to an end. Even though I received a call from the office of the Secretary of Education to tell me that the unearthing of his families bones and writings of Columbus were not enough evidence to change the history books. You be the judge. On July 20, 2010 I wrote a letter to Sen. McCain and thanked him for his encouragement, that now all Latin Hispanic kids can enjoy the warm feeling of pride, that one of them Discovered America. Had my persistence not taken place, Columbus would still be Italian...don't misunderstand this as racial... My wife was Northern Italian and my children have the DNA of Michael Angelo and Christopher Columbus. I just wanted the truth out. It is out. Have you ever thought that this is Spain's way of saying "I'm sorry"; to the Columbus and all the rest of the Jewish Community? After all, Columbus's family was Jewish. Look him up in the Encyclopedia Brittanica. How can Spain go down in History telling of Columbus's Origins as a Spaniard, and at the same time kicking him out of the country? This is the only way to make it right. 1942