Portuguese Citizenship for Sephardic Jews Following the Enclosures Acts
Procedure to apply for Portuguese citizenship To apply for Portuguese citizenship, a person needs to follow a certain procedure. The designation of Sephardic Jews also refers to the original settlers of the Iberian Peninsula, i.e. the Moroccan Jews, who were in the region from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century. Having such ethnic communities, in the Middle Ages and thereafter, were the target of severe religious persecution, most of its members eventually took refuge in Portugal. Thereafter, they established their own communities in different Portuguese provinces, eventually spreading over all the western coast of Portugal, along the coasts of Morocco and Spain.
In recent times, there has been an increasing trend for Portuguese Jews to immigrate to the country. With this increase in the number of Portuguese Jews, several laws on Portuguese citizenship were changed in order to allow them naturalization. In most of these changes, the statutes provided that those fulfilling requirements could be granted the right of Portuguese citizenship. These requirements now allow those fulfilling the age requirements to apply for Portuguese nationality. These include fulfilling the Jewish religion requirement, as well as fulfilling other requirements related to nationality.
Portuguese Jews are not the only ones who can enjoy the benefits of having the right of Portuguese nationality. There has been an increasing number of non-Jewish citizens applying for Portuguese citizenship. Among these are Egyptians, Bosnian Serbs, Afghanis, and Iranians. All these countries have had their own share of turmoil in the past few decades, particularly in the countries associated with the European Union. Therefore, it is no surprise that many of these individuals are now applying for Portuguese citizenship.
For centuries, Portuguese Jews have emigrated to different countries in Europe. In the early days of their rise to power, the Portuguese Jews established settlements in India and Egypt. In 1534, the Portuguese government enacted a law that would set conditions in order for Jews to become citizens of Portugal. Among these conditions was the requirement that the children of such Jews to be accepted into a Sephardi Jewish School. However, the ban on the practice of Jewish immigration was never implemented in spite of this law. As a result, in effect, all Jews who were born in Portugal, became citizens of the country irrespective of where they had originated from.
Types of Sephardi Jewish:
There are two main branches of Sephardi Jewish culture in Portugal: the community founded by the Lisbon Jews in the 17th century and the community that sprang up during the period of the Renaissance. The renaissance initiated the movement towards Sephardim in both Spain and Portugal. The Sephardic Jews welcomed the practices and beliefs of the Christians and were seen as an important element of the Moorish culture. With time, the Portuguese Jews expanded their holdings in the other countries of Europe including India, and became prominent citizens of those countries.
Portuguese citizenship for Sephardic Jews is granted by the Portuguese authorities, subject to some regulations. In order to apply for Portuguese citizenship, you need to supply a certificate of citizenship from the Portuguese authorities and Jewish marriage in Portugal or in Israel. You also need to provide a birth certificate in order to obtain Portuguese citizenship. Besides these requirements, there are no other specific documents required to obtain Portuguese citizenship. Other documents such as marriage records and property deeds are not mandatory in obtaining Portuguese citizenship.
The law about the Jews:
In February 2015, a bill was presented in the Portuguese parliament that would grant Sephardic Jews in Israel the right to vote in Portuguese national elections. The proposal has yet to be approved and may still face opposition from the majority of Sephardic Jews in Portugal. Most Portuguese Jews do not wish to give up their citizenship and wish to retain their Sephardi identity. The decision on granting Sephardic Jews in Portugal the right to vote will probably take place at the earliest in July, once all the required consultations have been completed.
During the years that followed the expulsion of Jews from Spain, the Portuguese Jews had several years of life after the expulsion to build their businesses. They were able to build these businesses during a time when there were no restrictions on the import of goods into Portugal or export from Portugal. This led them to diversify their markets and expand their businesses. Following the Enclosure Acts, the Portuguese Jews were not permitted to build any buildings of concrete or brick in their cities, except for a few yeshivos (synagogues).