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King of Spain Juan Carlos I

Welcome home, 500 years later: Spain offers citizenship to Sephardic Jews

Welcome home, 500 years later: Spain offers citizenship to Sephardic Jews

In 1492, as every American schoolchild knows, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain sent Christopher Columbus on a fateful voyage to India that ended up changing the history of the world.

But 1492 was also a dolorous year in the history of European Jewry. On March 31, 1492, Spain’s hard-line Catholic rulers issued a decree offering Jews in the country a terrible choice: Convert to Christianity or get out. Many fled, giving rise to a worldwide diaspora of “Sephardic” Jews, after the Hebrew word for Spain.

More than 500 years later, descendants of those Jews now have a chance to return to their ancestral homeland, after the Spanish government’s...

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