Mapped: Where Sephardic Jews live after they were kicked out of Spain 500 years ago
After expelling them more than five centuries ago, Spain has finally opened the path to citizenship for Sephardic Jews. On June 11, the Spanish parliament passed the Sephardic ancestry law, which will allow thousands of people scattered all over the world to obtain Spanish nationality, allowing them to live and work in any country in the European Union.
Applicants will be required to show that they are descendants of members of the community that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella expelled in 1492. They will also have to demonstrate knowledge of Spanish and take a test about Spanish culture and current events.
Historians believe that almost a half of a million Jewish people were living in Spain at the time who were forced to convert to Catholicism or leave the country. Many were also killed in the Spanish Inquisition.
It is hard to calculate how many descendants of that original population live around the world today, but the Sefarad-Israel Center, a Spanish government agency that aims to promote good relations between Spain and Israel and educate people about the country’s Jewish heritage, says that the number could be as high as 3.5 million.
Here are the countries with the largest Sephardic communities today, according to the Sefarad-Israel Center:
And here is the estimated number of descendents in each country:
Country Sephardic Jews Population
United States 300,000
United Kingdom 10,500