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About the Portuguese Sephardic Jews Law

As stated in MINISTRY OF JUSTICE Decree-Law No 30-A / 2015, Feb. 27

The designation of Sephardic Jews refers to the descendants of the ancient Jews and traditional Jewish communities of the Iberian Peninsula.

The presence of these communities in the Iberian Peninsula is very old, and even before the formation of the Iberian Christian kingdoms, as was the case with Portugal.

Having these Jewish communities, from the late fifteenth century and after the Alhambra Edict of 1492, been the object of persecution by the Spanish Inquisition, many of its members took refuge then in Portugal.

However, King Manuel, who had initially issued a law that guaranteed their protection, he ordered the expulsion of all Sephardic Jews that did not apply to the Catholic baptism. Thus, many Sephardic Jews were expelled from Portugal in the late fifteenth century and early sixteenth century.

In general, these peninsular Jews established – if, among others, in countries like the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Turkey as well as in parts of North Africa and later in American territories, including Brazil, Argentina , Mexico and the United States of America (USA).

Despite the persecution and expulsion of their ancestral territory have, many Sephardic Jews of origin portuguese and their descendants kept not only the Portuguese language, but also the traditional rites of the ancient Jewish worship in Portugal, saving over generations their surnames, objects and documents proving their Portuguese origin, along with a strong memorial relationship that leads them to qualify themselves to themselves as “Portuguese Jews ‘or’ Jews of the Portuguese Nation”.

During the period of the Inquisition many of these New-Christians and Portuguese Jews managed to escape and get out of the kingdom, settling in some regions of the Mediterranean (Gibraltar, Morocco, South of France, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria), Northern Europe (London, Nantes, Paris, Antwerp, Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam), Brazil, Antilles and the US, among others, there creating highly reputed and established notable synagogues, such as the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam, the Synagogue Shearith Israel in New York, the Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, the Touro Synagogue in Newport (Rhode Island – USA), the Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal and Tzur Israel Synagogue in Recife.

In the early nineteenth century returned to Portugal some descendants of Sephardic Jews who had taken refuge in Morocco and Gibraltar, and in  801 was created the first modern Jewish cemetery, next to the English Cemetery in Lisbon, and in 1868 by decree of King Luis, been allocated to ‘Jews Lisbon allowed to install a cemetery for the burial of his supporters “, the current cemetery Rua D. Afonso III, in Lisbon.

In the Diaspora in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom remain, among others, surnames:

Abrantes, Aguilar, Andrade, Brandão, Brito, Bueno, Cardoso, Carvalho, Cas-tro, Costa, Coutinho, Dourado, Fonseca, Furtado, Gomes, Gouveia, Granjo, Henriques, Lara, Marques, Melo e Prado, Mesquita, Mendes, Neto, Nunes, Pereira, Pinheiro, Rodrigues, Rosa, Sarmento, Silva, Soares, Teixeira e Teles. 

In the Latin American diaspora remain, for example:

Almeida, Avelar, Bravo, Carvajal, Crespo, Duarte, Ferreira, Franco, Gato, Gonçalves, Guerreiro, Leão, Lopes, Leiria, Lobo, Lousada, Machorro, Martins, Montesino, Moreno, Mota, Macias, Miranda, Oliveira, Osório, Pardo, Pina, Pinto, Pimentel, Pizarro, Querido, Rei, Ribeiro, Salvador, Torres e Viana.

In addition, other parts of the world there are also descendants of Sephardic Jews from Portugal to retain, in addition to the above, among others, the following surnames:

Amorim, Azevedo, Álvares, Barros, Basto, Belmonte, Cáceres, Caetano, Cam-pos, Carneiro, Cruz, Dias, Duarte, Elias, Estrela, Gaiola, Josué, Lemos, Lombroso, Lopes, Machado, Mascarenhas, Mattos, Meira, Mello e Canto, Mendes da Costa, Miranda, Morão, Morões, Mota, Moucada, Negro, Oliveira, Osório (ou Ozório), Paiva, Pilão, Pinto, Pessoa, Preto, Souza, Vaz e Vargas.

In addition to the familiar nicknames and the use of Portuguese, particularly in the rites, there are descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who, even today, talk to each other Ladino, the language used by Sephardim expelled from Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth century, derived from cas telhano and Portuguese and currently spoken by about 150,000 people in existing communities in Israel, Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, Greece, Morocco and in America a-rich, among many other places.

This law authorizes the exercise of the right of return for Sephardic Jews descendants of Portuguese origin that so wish, through the acquisition of Portuguese nationality by naturalization, with its attendant rights and obligations.

Foreign naturalization that are descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews

The Government may grant citizenship through naturalization to the descendants of Sephardic Jews, when they fulfill the following requirements:

a) are adult or emancipated under the law;

b) not have been convicted, with final judgment of sentence for committing a crime punishable with a maximum prison sentence equal to or exceeding three years, under Portuguese law.

The request submitted by the interested or his lawyer are indicated and demonstrated the circumstances giving rise to belong to a tradition of Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, in particular, family surnames, familiar language, direct descendants or family relationship in the collateral line of common parent from the Sephardic community of Portuguese origin.

Conditions

Certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community

The applicant for Portuguese Nationality must first obtain a Certificate from the Portuguese Jewish Community which attests to his/her ties to a
Sephardic Jewish Community of Portuguese origin. A request for this Certificate must be addressed to the Jewish Community of Oporto or to the Jewish Community of Lisbon.

Evidence of the applicant’s family history of connection to a Sephardic Community of Portuguese origin, by means of family names, language, direct or collateral descendance, or other elements which are indicative of this connection, may be direct and circumstantial.

Direct evidence may be provided by means of the following: family records, family tree, community archives of births, marriages and deaths, cemeteries and lists of tombs, brit milah records, general Government archives that show arrivals from Portugal, lists of ships and passengers arriving from Portugal.

Circumstantial evidence may be provided by means of any type of proof, provided that all of such elements of proof, when considered collectively or individually, in combination with direct evidence, will serve to convince the Committee.

Means of proof: documented evidence, testimonial evidence and expert evidence.

1 – Documented evidence. For example, family records, family tree, community archives of births, marriages and deaths (such as those in Amsterdam, Bordeaux, Curacao, St. Thomas and Sofia), cemeteries and lists of tombs (like those found in Surinam, Thessaloniki, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Curacao, Bayonne, Paris and Vienna), brit milah records, general Government archives that show arrivals from Portugal, lists of ships and passengers arriving from Portugal. It is a criminal offense to falsify documents. The Committee of the Jewish Community will always strive to ascertain the veracity of documentation submitted, which will be evaluated together with the other evidence obtained during the course of the investigation.

2 – Testimonial evidence, ie, reputable witnesses who can attest to a family’s oral tradition. Testimonial evidence must be submitted in writing. Testimony must be in the form of written depositions, signed by the witnesses and certified by a Notary Public  (languages: Hebrew, English Spanish or Portuguese). The depositions must be sent to us together with copies of passports or ID cards of the witnesses. Witnesses must be credible and their testimony convincing. It is a criminal offense for a witness to falsely testify in writing to any legally relevant fact. The Committee of the Jewish Community will always endeavor to ascertain the credibility of depositions, which will be evaluated together with other evidence and information gathered during the course of the investigation.

3 – Expert evidence, ie, support of an expert on Portuguese Jewish diaspora. Expert evidence must be submitted in writing. The reports of experts in Portuguese diaspora (languages: Hebrew, English Spanish or Portuguese) must be in writing and signed by the expert(s).

about the Portuguese Sephardic Jews law

Needed Documents

The following documents are required for the preparation of applications in our offices:

1.   Certificate from Jewish Community in Portugal or evidence as requested in next column: A) or B)

2.   Full passport copy certified by a Portuguese Consulate or apostilled

3.   Power of attorney

4.   Birth certificate issued within the previous six month*

5.   Criminal record from the applicant country of birth and countries which he has resided more than 1 year, issued within the previous ninety days*

6.   Proofs which establish the connection to a Portuguese community of Sephardic origin and – the study which lead to the jewish community
certificate*

* Documents should be translated to portuguese, apostilled or certified by the portuguese consulate of country of origin.

Foreign naturalization that are descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews

Certificate stating belonging to a Sephardic Community of Portuguese origin, embodied in particular in the applicant’s name, in the familiar language, genealogy, and family memory.

JEWISH COMMUNITIES IN PORTUGAL – authorities that have legal competence to pass the certificate:

Jewish Lisbon Community – http://www.cilisboa.org/

Jewish Porto Community – http://comunidade-israelita-porto.org/x#

In the absence of the certificate from Portuguese Jewish community referred and to demonstrate the direct descendants or family relationship in the collateral line of common parent from the Sephardic community of Portuguese origin and tradition of belonging to the Sephardic community of origin Portuguese, the following evidence is also admitted:

A) authenticated document issued by the Jewish community to which the applicant belongs, stating the use of the same expressions in Portuguese in Jewish rites or, as spoken by themselves within that community;

B) authenticated documentary records, such as records of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, as well as residence permits, property deeds, wills and other evidence of family connection require the close-by means of direct descent or familiar relationship in the collateral line common parent from the Sephardic community of Portuguese origin.

In case of doubt about the authenticity of the contents of the documents issued abroad, the Cabinet member responsible for justice may opinion on the means proof submitted under the preceding paragraph.

After Citizenship is Granted

After the Portuguese citizenship is obtained, the client can obtain a citizen card or issue a Portuguese passport.

Portuguese passport gives access to travel freely in Schenguen countries and UK, no need for visit visa.

You also have access to residence permits to other European countries.