Dream Of Lisbon – Portuguese Sephardi Citizenship, Israeli channel Ten, 3 June 2017 – transcript

Reporter: And now to the Israeli pursuit of a foreign passport. A few years ago, the Spanish government announced that it would give citizenship to descendants of Jews who had been expelled. Half a million young people who want to study or work in Europe perked up their ears at this. But then, it turned out that it is not really so simple. In contrast, the country who is interested in Jews is Portugal, which offers the same deal to anyone who can prove their family connection to forced converts, who were chased out by the Inquisition. Yinon Miles went on a short heritage quest.

Miles: What luck grandma Fortuna has.
Fortuna: “Hello”.
Miles: In the past few weeks, the grandchildren came suddenly to visit.
Grandchild: “Hello Grandma”
Fortuna: “Hello”.
Miles: They are interested in the family history.
Zohar: “This is Grandma’s father, and this is his wife.”
Miles: And in a suspicious manner, they concentrate on all of Grandma’s stories.
Fortuna: “My grandfather with his sister were very wealthy.”
Miles: But the truth is that with all respect to roots, 22-year-old granddaughter Zohar is mainly interested in the potential benefit.
“Have you ever been to Portugal?”
Zohar: “No, I never had the chance to go to Portugal. I went to Spain, but not there.”
Miles: “Have you ever had any connection to Portugal?”
Zohar: “No. Only now it came to me. I only heard about this a month ago.”

Miles: “What is the connection between pasta and Portugal?”
Shai Alon: “Actually, there isn’t really any connection.”
Miles: Also Shai Alon, who runs a fresh pasta factory, 38-years-old, perhaps always dreamt of Italy, But he never thought that the door to Europe would be opened specifically through his Moroccan roots.
“When you were a child, did you ever dream that you would one day have a Portuguese passport?”
Shai Alon: “Listen, as a kid I grew up in Arad. There is no…”
Miles: So, who told him that Europe is open to us? At least one country even wants us back again. This is how many Israelis had the chance recently to receive a Portuguese passport.
Shai Alon: “Really there is no connection, but look, it happens.”

Miles: It began with a Spanish dream.
Reporter: Until now, the descendants of those expelled from Spain were proud of their heritage. Soon, for the first time, they will be able to receive Spanish citizenship.
Reporter: The Spanish government passed a law yesterday that gives citizenship to descendants of those expelled from Spain.
Miles: Already by February 2014, dozens of agents opened who promised Israelis of Spanish origin a passport of the monarchy based on the new law.
Yoram Zara: “The Spanish law is a mistake in my opinion.”
Miles: “The Spanish law is as if they don’t really want you.”
Yoram Zara: “Exactly. You can count on one hand the people who received Spanish citizenship based on the law from 2015.”
Miles: But two years later, with requirements including written and oral language exams, a heritage test, a personal interview, and a slew of bureaucratic difficulties, it is clear that Spain is better to remain as a dream.
Yoram Zara: “We could call this Inquisition 2 what the Spanish are doing.”

Miles: “What happened? The Portuguese said ‘we also want and we’ll give it to you easier?'”
Adam Yadid: “They were simply smart.”
Miles: One year after Spain, in February 2015, Portugal announced a similar law.
Maria de Belem Roseira, Socialist Party: “The law that the Socialist Party presented here today is to make it possible to receive Portuguese citizenship through citizenship by descent of Sephardi Jews who came from Portugal.
Miles: The Portuguese made more realistic acceptance conditions but learned a lot from the Spanish Israelis found the same difficulties to attain it. In 2015, only 149 Israelis applied for a Portuguese passport. A year later, the number had risen to 2,021 and by May of this year, about 3,000 Israelis had already applied.
Yoram Zara: “They thought it was some kind of fraud, some kind of pyramid scam. It can’t be. What connection do I have to Portugal? Only when they started to see passports with people of other nationalities, the Israelis realized there is a real opportunity here.
Miles: “If I want, what do I have to do?”
Adam Yadid: “You have to prove that you are a descendant of those expelled,”
Miles: “Yes.”
Adam Yadid: “You have to prove that you have a clean certificate of honesty. Basically, that’s it.”

Fortuna: “My grandmother is from Izmir. Here is my grandmother, she was a good woman. This is my father, this is my mother.”
Miles: In the Levi family, you don’t really need proof. After 5 minutes with Fortuna, it’s clear that it is a home with a Sephardi air.
Fortuna: “Maybe you want instant coffee?”
Miles: “Yes”
Fortuna: “You can’t say no. Instant, yes?”
Miles: “Sure.”
With Polish tendencies.
Fortuna: “Sabi”
Sabi: “What?”
Fortuna: “Make instant coffee please.”
Miles: “What do you say about Portugal wanting now to give you citizenship?”
Fortuna: “Very nice. I guess they are sorry. They would burn us, kill us, endangering. We suffered, we suffered. They suffered. They ran away like rabbits.”

Miles: Portugal was basically the first refuge for those expelled from Spain. After March 1492, a power struggle between the Vatican and the Spanish crown caused King Ferdinand II to sign a decree expelling the Jews from his land. Most Jews went to the familiar neighbor but 5 years later, a similar decree was issued against the Jews of Portugal, who were forced to convert against their will. 40 years later and life here was also impossible. In 1536, the Jews of Portugal came under the long arm of the Spanish Inquisition. The flight paths ran far from the Western European Catholic countries to areas of the Ottoman Empire in Eastern Europe or North Africa.

“Maybe it was worth it to get a Portuguese passport, no?”
Fortuna: “Heavens! May the lid fall on your head!”
Adam Yadid: “Hi, what’s up?” “How are you?”
Yoram Zara: “Hi there, pleased to meet you.” “A pleasure indeed.”
Miles: “So who wants to be Portuguese?”
Levi family: “All of us.”
Miles: So, who can get a passport? Basically, anyone who has a Sephardi background. But, the ease of proving a connection to the expulsion varies from one ethnicity to the next. Initially, one of the two Jewish communities of Porto or Lisbon can approve whether there is such a connection with this approval, along with other paperwork, you can go to the Lisbon Interior Ministry and then to wait. The cost of help with the process in Israel varies between NIS 10,000 to NIS 20,000.
“How much would I pay for a Portuguese passport?”
Fortuna: “Nothing. Not a cent.”
Miles: “Do you know how much she is paying?”
Fortuna: “20,000?”
Miles: “Are you happy that she pays NIS 20,000 for a Portuguese passport?”
Fortuna: “No, I wouldn’t pay that. But she wants. What can I do?”
Yoram Zara: “Let me ask you a question, why do you want Portuguese citizenship?”
Grandfather: “Who wants? I don’t want it. Why do you want it?”
Zohar: “Mainly because of the doors it opens.”
Shai Alon: “The goal is to make it easier to set up business in Europe”
Miles: “What do you say? Do you want a Portuguese passport one day?”
Grandchild 1: “Yes”
Grandchild 2: “Yes, but we won’t get it.”
Grandchild 1: “Pussy.”
Miles: “What?”
Grandchild 1: “Pussy.”
Miles: “Pussy? That’s what interests you?”
Grandchild 1: “Yes”

Itamar: “A very fun atmosphere and a feeling of development. The number of tourists is crazy.”
Miles: Itamar and Elad are less interested in the women. An Israeli couple who moved recently to Lisbon and are in the process of receiving Portuguese citizenship.
“How long are you there for already?
Itamar:”We’ve been here half a year, since November. We arrived here and opened a restaurant called ‘Tantura,'”
“Tehina was the hardest thing to find here.”

Miles: The arc of history has reached full circle but the background to the changes in Portugal isn’t just romantic. The country suffered for many years from emigration of young people, high unemployment and low GNP compared to the rest of Europe and the new law is part of a wider attempt to strengthen the economy. For example, with young people like Itamar and Elad. And the Jewish community is also involved in this effort.
Jose Oulman Carp, former president of Lisbon’s Jewish: “The community is working on all that is necessary that it needs in order to keep the rhythm of the certification of not more than one month.”

Miles: “Is there a chance that I… can get a Portuguese passport?”
“When did you come to Israel?”
Miles: With a culinary background of filled rolls, borekas and a hard-boiled egg of memorial prayers, it is now my turn to find out what the Turkish dynasty on my father’s side is worth.
Yoram Zara: Miles, good. Did you say Izmir? Izmir is Smyrna. Here is evidence of the family name there. You are in the archive of the inquisition in Lisbon your family name. More than that…
Miles: “That’s it? Is it worth it for me?
Yoram Zara: “A member of your family suffered because of his Sephardi background, so it is time that you benefit from this.”
Miles: “Yes! So I have? Let’s go. Where? What? What do I do? Where do I sign?”

But what is a club worth if it is not exclusive? As a potential citizen of Portugal, I thought they should make the conditions for joining tougher.
“Will you answer some questions?”
Shai Alon: “Yes”
Miles: “Which country borders Portugal?
Shai Alon: “Wow, you’ve stumped me. What a disaster,”
Itamar: “Spain and only Spain.”
Shai Alon:”Tali – which country borders Portugal?”
Miles: “What are the main two colors of the flag?
Elad: “Wow, green and red.”
Shai Alon: “Yellow and red. Or green. Yellow, red and green?”
Miles: “Who is the president of Portugal?”
Elad: “Wow!”
Miles: “Who is the president of Portugal? ”
Shai Alon: “I have no idea.”
Elad: “You’ve stumped me and I don’t feel now. Wait, let me check Google.”
Miles: “What is the international dialling code for Portugal?”
Shai Alon: “I have no clue.”
Elad: “351”
Miles: “Because you got all the answers wrong, I revoke your Portuguese citizenship. Don’t give it to him, he doesn’t deserve it.”

“What food do you prepare for them?”
Fortuna: “We make pashteda (pies). We make prasa meatballs, you understand?”
Miles: “I understand, I’m also Turkish.”
Fortuna: “My goodness!”
Miles: If someone is dubious about the seriousness of the Portuguese, just this month, the law changed again. And now, those who get a passport can also pass the right on relatively easily to their children which will make it easier for Zohar to complete the process. Now, she needs the truly important permission from Savta.
“If she moves to Portugal one day”
Fortuna: If it is good for her, it is good for me. Once upon a time, children would do what we wanted. Not now. Now they tell us what they want! What do you say?”
Miles: “You are right.”
Reporter 1: All the Sephardi grandmothers are similar to Grandma Fortuna.

Brazilian family finds ties with Sephardic Jews and requests Portuguese nationality

Translation from the original here

According to the G1 news portal, it took years of research, hundreds of documents, 300-year marriage certificates and a lot of study to find the link between the Arruda family and the Jews expelled from Europe five centuries ago.

The journey of the family from Ceará began in 2015, when Portugal announced that it would give citizenship to foreigners who proved to have a Sephardic background, a way of apologizing to the people banished from the Iberian Peninsula in the late fifteenth century.

Nertan Arruda was the first Brazilian to prove the bond with Sephardic Jews and to obtain the Portuguese citizenship.

“We did research, in the cities of Sobral and Massapê, and we discovered historical documents about the first descendants of the Jews who were expelled from Europe and came to the Brazilian Northeast. In Lisbon, they verified the veracity of the documents in April last year and obtained citizenship”, Nertan told the G1.

From the Nertan certificate, his cousin Henrique Sérgio Arruda furthered the investigations of the Sephardic genealogy in Ceará to obtain the same certificate for himself and 29 other relatives.

For this, Henrique Sérgio Arruda needs proof of the ascendancy of each of the 15 generations that separate him from Branca Dias, a Jewish woman who died in Pernambuco in 1558.

Entrepreneur Henrique Sérgio Arruda has already obtained documents attesting to his consanguineous familiarity with Branca Dias in Brazil and from the Jewish Community of Lisbon. The documents, however, still need to be reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Justice.

Sephardic Branca Dias, expelled from Portugal in the 16th century, is identified by some historians as the first woman to teach in Brazil, maintaining schools in the mills (sugar cane farms) that she and her husband maintained in Olinda, in the old captaincy of Pernambuco.

Branca Dias lived in the Portuguese colony as a “new Christian”, as were identified the Jews that converted – sometimes forced – to Christianity.

However, in secret, practiced the Jewish religion, which was discovered and led to conviction by the Inquisition. The judgment and relevance of Branca Dias left extensive documentation of her and six generations of her descendants.

Henrique Sérgio Arruda told the G1 that Portuguese citizenship can bring practical benefits to himself and the family, but the discovery of his family origins is what motivates him the most to carry out  the genealogical research.

Genealogist Assis Arruda also told the news portal that other families in Ceará may have ties to Portuguese Sephardic Jews.

The Portuguese Government approved the decree-law that regulated the granting of Portuguese nationality, by naturalization, to descendants of Sephardic Jews in January 2015.

The decree-law was promulgated by the then President Aníbal Cavaco Silva and published in the Official Gazette of Portugal at the end of February 2015, coming into force on March 1st of the same year.

The Portuguese legislation foresees that candidates for nationality must submit a list of documents, including proof of Jewish ancestry, including a certificate to be issued by the Jewish Community of Porto (ICP) or the Jewish Community of Lisbon (ICL), which have already received thousands of certificate requests.

More than 5,500 Sephardic Jews have applied for Portuguese nationality, and 431 have obtained it since the entry into force of the legislation, according to official data from Portugal made available in February.


The acquisition of the Portuguese nationality will be eased for Sephardic minors

Summary translation from the original in Portuguese found here

Changes in the Nationality Law were approved by a Council of Ministers on Thursday 20 April 2017. The acquisition of Portuguese nationality will be facilitated to minors descending from Sephardic Jews expelled from Portugal in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. The decree will enter in force in the first month after the date of the publication and will fill in a gap that existed since 2015, when this alterations were approved for the first time by the Government lead by Pedro Passos Coelho.  The State Secretary, Jose Luiz Carneiro, stated: “This is a measure that has long been requested”. According to Jose Luis Carneiro, the law now approved “will end of the inequality between minors and adults in the granting of nationality by naturalization to the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews.” The decree approved cancels the requirement of demonstrating a special link to Portugal that was previously required from minors.

Jewish communities applaud
In a joint public notice on Thursday, the Jewish communities of Lisbon and Porto welcomed “the amendment to the Regulation of the Nationality Law” which, they emphasized, “puts an end to the need for minors to prove an ‘effective link’ to Portugal which they could not demonstrate because their ancestors were forced to abandon Portugal. “

The Jewish community is leaving Erdogan’s Turkey

Translation form the original in French found here.

The Jewish community is leaving Turkey slowly, but surely. This religious minority is worried by the increase of violence and by the hardening of the regime. One third of its members have already begun the process of becoming Israeli citizens, but also Portuguese and Spanish. These are two countries who have banished them five centuries ago, but who agree to give them citizenship today.
The nationalist and Islamist pressure of the AKP, president Erdogan’s party, worries the small Turkish Jewish community, mainly gathered in Istanbul. After the increase of violence and anti-Semitism, an important number of 15,000 members of this community are considering leaving their country. The community has already lost 9,000 members over twenty years.
After the coup d’état attempted in July 2016, the repression against the followers of Fethullah Gülen (accused of being behind the putsch) has expanded to the whole Turkish society. 140,000 people have been excluded from the administration: judges, teachers, journalists, academics, police officers, military men, elected members… The Jewish community, discreet and legitimist, is yet not spared by this climate of violence.

Islamic nationalism
Most of all the community fears a new wave of anti-Semitism, which could be instrumentalized by the government or by the Islamic groups. Back in 2003, hundreds of Jews have left the country after the attacks committed in front of two synagogues in Istanbul. The attack, claimed by a Turkish group related to Al-Qaeda, resulted in 43 deaths.
After the victory of Yes in the constitutional referendum, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has full power more than ever. The state of emergency proclamation has already allowed him to silence the opposition and to shut down hundreds of associations, such as the ones known for defending human rights. 47,000 magistrates, military men and police officers have been imprisoned.
This is the harmful political climate from which the Jewish-Turkish community tries to find a way out. 4,000 of its members have begun the process of becoming Portuguese or Spanish citizens. The Portuguese and Spanish parliaments have decided (in 2014) to grant citizenships to the descendants of the Sephardic Jews who have been evicted during the Inquisition. Historians estimate that at least 200,000 Jews were living in the Iberian Peninsula when Isabella the Catholic ordered them to convert or to leave, after years of persecution. The Jews from Spain, who had been living in the country with the Muslims and Christians for centuries, were forced to leave in a couple of weeks and they received an interdiction of coming back. The ones who refused were burned in the public square.

Return to Lisbon
The decisions aim to fix a «historical error» and to also attract a dynamic and resourceful population. The laws of «nationality reintegration» have been voted in 2013 and 2014, during the serious economic crisis which affected the Iberian Peninsula. According to Michael Rothwel, the representative of the Jewish community in Porto, «from the 3,000 nationality demands in Portugal, 500 Jews from Turkey have already received their new Portuguese passports», whereas the other demands are in progress. For the Jewish community of Istanbul, the return to the Portuguese or Spanish nationality is seen as an insurance against the increase of violence. This will also give them access to a precious European passport in these troubled times.
For the Jewish minority in Turkey, political repression which affects large sections of the population is added to the prevailing anti-Semitism. President Erdogan and the Turkish press regularly accuse a sibylline «lobby of interest taxes» for being detrimental to Turkey. The population understands they are targeting the Jewish community…

400 British descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews have requested Portuguese nationality

Less than two months after the referendum on the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, there are already 400 British descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who have applied for Portuguese nationality. This is a significant increase, since before referring only five approved a law of the nationality of 2015

The UK has voted to exit the European Union. There are now hundreds of British people that search their ancestry to obtain a European passport. In less than two months there are four hundred British descendants of Sephardic Jews that requested Portuguese nationality. This is a considerable increase since before the referendum only five took advantage of the Nationality law. “We were expecting that after the Brexit vote on the 23rd of June, there would be, from the British people a desire to keep their nationality, and a wish to remain in the EU”. Michael Rothwell is a member on the board of Porto’s Jewish community and he says he was expecting these requests to begin. “In respect to Portuguese Sephardic Jewish descendants there is an opportunity, created by the Nationality law of 2015 that allows descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews that are part of a Sephardic community to request Portuguese nationality”. The certificates that authenticate the origin are issued by the Jewish communities in Portugal. According to the law, the certificates are given by the two Jewish communities, of Porto and Lisbon Only the Jewish community can determine whether a person is a Sephardic Jew or a descendant of Sephardic Jews. Sephardic Jews are Jews of Portuguese or Spanish origin, that were exiled from Portugal in the fifteenth century and that can now return. You can not fix History, but the future can be written differently. Michael ensures that these 400 requests do not mean that they want to return to Portugal but requesting nationality is a strong proof of an affective bond to Portugal.