My new Por­tu­gal pass­port is one step to­wards jus­tice

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY RICHARD ZIMLER

A 33-YEAR-OLD Pana­ma­nian has be­come the first Sephardic Jew to ob­tain Por­tuguese na­tion­al­ity un­der a new law that en­ables de­scen­dants of Por­tuguese Jews liv­ing in other coun­tries to claim their an­ces­tral cit­i­zen­ship.

The Por­tuguese gov­ern­ment awarded Al­fonso Pare­des Por­tuguese na­tion­al­ity on Oc­to­ber 2. He de­scribed the mo­ment as an at­tempt “to cor­rect the great in­jus­tice done to the Jews” and said that he felt “pride and great emo­tional sat­is­fac­tion” at hav­ing gained Por­tuguese na­tion­al­ity.

“My fam­ily was al­ways aware of its his­tory and ori­gins but we never imag­ined that this would be pos­si­ble,” said Mr Pare­des, who hopes to visit Por­tu­gal next year.

Mr Pare­des’s brother, sis­ter and mother have also ap­plied for cit­i­zen­ship, along with about 200 other Jews from around the world.

Mr Pare­des and his fam­ily are di­rect de­scen­dants of Eliau Abra­ham Lopes, a rabbi who lived in

Al­fonso Pare­des Cu­raçao in the early 18th cen­tury, and his wife, Raquel Nunes da Fon­seca.

The law that per­mit­ted Mr Pare­des to ob­tain Por­tuguese na­tion­al­ity was passed in April 2013 and was de­signed to com­pen­sate for an his­tor­i­cal in­jus­tice that be­gan in 1497, when King Manuel I or­dered the Jews of Por­tu­gal to be forcibly con­verted.

About 40 years later, the In­qui­si­tion be­gan per­se­cut­ing con­verted Jews for con­tin­u­ing to prac­tise their an­ces­tral re­li­gion in se­cret. Over the next three cen­turies, those Por­tuguese Jews who wished to es­cape per­se­cu­tion and prac­tise their re­li­gion, openly es­caped to such ci­ties as Con­stantino­ple (Is­tan­bul), Salonika and Am­s­ter­dam, turn­ing them into flour­ish­ing cen­tres of Sephardic cul­ture.

Jews who are mem­bers of a Sephardic com­mu­nity out­side Por­tu­gal and who can demon­strate a link to the coun­try based on such cri­te­ria as fam­ily name and ge­nealog­i­cal records are el­i­gi­ble for cit­i­zen­ship. Those in­ter­ested may ap­ply t h r o u g h t h e Jewish com­mu­nity in Oporto.

PHOTO: AARON SOSA

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