inquisition in Terreiro do Paço, Lisbon. Credit:
Earlier this week, the creation of the Certificate of Sephardic Ancestry was announced, which certifies descendants of converted Jews and provides an affective reconnection with the Sephardic Jewish past.
The initiative is from the American Sephardic Federation’s Institute of Jewish Experience and the organization Reconectar, responsible for attesting the applicants’ Sephardic Jewish origin.
An estimated 200 million people worldwide, but especially in Latin America, have Sephardic ancestry. The recognition of this ancestry of this immense non-Jewish population can promote philosemitism, the defense of Jewish communities and an approximation to the State of Israel.
The certificates to be issued to these non-Jews but descendants of Sephardic Jews will have a cost - a mandatory fee that will be between 76 and 152 euros per applicant -, something similar to the certificates that are issued in the Jewish world to Jews.
The Jewish world, based on tradition and not on genealogies of people who have lived through centuries of persecution around the world, is a world that has long needed certificates.
There are certificates of Judaism (issued by the rabbinates of the applicants' countries of origin for them to be accepted in new synagogues, and in cases of migration to Israel), of Ashkenazi origin (issued by the rabbinates of the applicants' countries of origin in cases of obtaining nationality from Central and Eastern European countries) and of Sephardic origin from Sepharad (issued by the rabbinates of the applicants' countries of origin in cases of migration to Spain and Portugal).
Ashley Perry (Perez), president of Reconectar and director of the Knesset Caucus for the Reconnection with the Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese, said to Jewish News Syndicate, “We have witnessed in recent years an unprecedented interest amongst those whose Jewish ancestors were forcibly converted to reconnect with their heritage and learn more about their past.”
“This is a paradigm-shaping moment in Jewish history, because for the first time tens of millions of those whose ancestors were forcibly disconnected from the Jewish people have the tools to seek some type of reconnection,” he said.
“The certificate we are offering is a way to connect formally with their Jewish heritage and reconnect with their people,” he added.
In the case of this initiative by the American Sephardic Federation's Institute of Jewish Experience and the organization Reconectar, since there are no Jews involved (but descendants of Jews) and there is no right to a nationality of a country, it is more difficult for critics to cast slanderous suspicions to hurt the integrity of those who will evaluate candidates.
The link to apply for the Certificate of Sephardic Ancestry can be found here.