British Sephardi Jews launch genealogy service

The organisation representing Britain’s Sephardi Jews this week launched a genealogy service to help descendants of Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition 500 years ago gain Spanish and Portuguese passports.

The Spanish and Portuguese (S&P) Community launched its internet-based ancestry tracking service as Brits worried about the impact of Brexit look for ways to get EU-qualifying passports.

German authorities revealed late last year that hundreds of Ashkenazi Jews from the UK had applied for German citizenship based on their family history, and the S&P said Sephardi Jews could do likewise with their Iberian Jewish ancestry.

Recent laws in both Spain and Portugal have sought to atone for a time when the countries’ Jews were forced either to flee or convert, allowing for descendants – who do not have to be Jewish – to apply for citizenship.

The laws require applicants to prove their descent from an Iberian Sephardic ancestor. Once the applicant has supplied the necessary evidence, the S&P will issue a letter to either the Lisbon or Porto communities, or the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain.

“At this stage, we do not know how many British citizens qualify under the new laws but it may be in the tens of thousands,” said a spokesman.

In addition, two of the principal “daughter congregations” of the London congregation were in Barbados and Jamaica, they said, so “people with ancestry in those communities will also qualify under these laws”.


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