New court ruling opens the door (again!) for Sephardic Jews to apply for Spanish nationality

Raymundo LarraĆ­n Nesbitt, January, 8. 2024

Inset photo: Granada’s Albayzin, the Jewish district, where time stood still.


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8th of January 2024

In 2015, under Spain’s former administration, a new law was passed (Ley 12/2015) which allowed all descendants of Sephardic Jews to apply for Spanish nationality. In practice, almost all applications were greenlighted and nationality was freely granted.

It has to be reminded that in 1492, the overzealous Spanish Catholic Kings purged Spain religiously, which included, besides expelling the Moors, also expelling all Jews, whose property was confiscated. As a result of this crass and unfair decision, Spain’s economy and business output would significantly decline over the next centuries. Due to this historic injustice, which long shadow has pursued Spain for generations, the 2015 law was passed to make amendments with its dark past and grant Spanish nationality to all living descendants of the Sephardic Jewish community who wished to take up the opportunity of recovering a sleeping Neshama.

With the change of administration in 2018, the application criteria became increasingly tighter, until in 2020 it almost grinded to a halt when almost all new applications were denied unless the certificate was issued by Spain’s Association of Sephardic Jews. This unofficial change translated in practice into denying almost all nationality applications.  

A new key ruling from a Madrid judge has now overturned the Government’s restrictive practice to - once again - accept as valid proof any certificate issued by a Sephardic Jew Association, even if not based in Spain. This pivotal change in effect opens again the floodgates of applications which had inexplicably grinded to a halt. Although no official statement was released, the rumour mill suspected several of these foreign certificates were being forged. So, in practice, only certificates issued by Spain’s Sephardic Jew Association, which were a minority, were being accepted as valid by Spanish Authorities (i.e. notaries).

However, to dampen the light mood, it is highly foreseeable the current administration in office will challenge the new ruling which will bog - once again - all Sephardic Jew applications for Spanish nationality. Spain’s current political administration is not exactly simpatico with Israel, as over half of the government is pro-Hamas, including the president.

Spain, once more, goes out of its way to be on the wrong side of history.


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