In the last year and a half, 21,000 Sephardic Jews applied for Portuguese nationality under a programme launched in 2015 for this purpose and aimed at the descendants of this community, expelled from the country in the 15th and early 16th centuries. In the first four months of this year, seven thousand applications were received, adding to the almost 14 thousand registered in the year of 2018, showing an expediting interest in this programme. “The requests have grown exponentially,” said Ana Mendes Godinho, Secretary of State for Tourism.
“They are young people and families with links to Portugal”, and since the beginning of the programme a total of “33 thousand applications have been received and more than seven thousand Sephardic Jews have been granted Portuguese nationality”, she revealed. The leader highlighted the links between these citizens and the country, emphasizing that there are several cases in which they find relatives. In fact, she said, there is a family of Sephardic Jews who had still kept the key to their house in Castelo de Vide.
Ana Mendes Godinho, who today accompanied a delegation of 31 leaders of international Sephardic communities in Porto on a visit to Portugal, underlined tourism’s commitment to attracting these citizens, within the program Paths of Faith, which includes the paths of Fátima and Santiago de Compostela, the Marian altars and the Jewish heritage. As mentioned by her, there has already been a 21% increase in tourists from Israel this year. Nearly 4.5 million Sephardic people live in Israel.
The Sephardic Diaspora extends over several countries and continents, according to the estimations of Hayim Cohen, president of the Sephardic Federation of Israel, that the number of Jews of this lineage (from the Iberian Peninsula) is around 20 million. Hayim Cohen, who has been traveling around the country and the most relevant places in terms of Jewish heritage for a week, has declared himself delighted with the national territory and its history. “We will be the best ambassadors in Portugal”, he said.
Translated from the Portuguese found here.