BOGOTA – More than 500 years after their ancestors were expelled from Spain, 160 Sephardic Jews in Colombia have recovered their Spanish citizenship.
The paths that led their families to Colombia are diverse but they all had a common starting point: the 1492 edict of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ordering the Jews – known as Sephardim for the Hebrew name for Spain, Spharad – to convert to Christianity or leave the country, on pain of death.
Many Sephardim found refuge in North Africa and the lands of the Ottoman Empire. The initiative to restore the citizenship of their descendants began with a 2015 Spanish law revoking the 1492 edict.
Jacqueline Brandwine, one of 145 Sephardim to take the oath as Spanish citizens during a ceremony in Bogota, told EFE that her ancestors “went to Egypt, later to Israel and reached Panama” before settling in Colombia.
Isaac Azud, nearly 80, recalled how his father arrived in Colombia in 1923, 18 years after being born in Jerusalem, then still part of the Ottoman realm.
“When we were children, the expulsion was not even mentioned, and therefore we do not have the same emotional reaction as people who was closer to it,” he said. “Of course, it was something terrible, but the manner the apology is being done is healing, we love Spaniards.”