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Italian Conversos’ descendants are eligible for a Portuguese Passport

אירנה רוזנברג
אירנה רוזנברג

Priscilla Moses

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Italian Conversos  – Jews converted to Christianity by force – came from Spain to Italy in the 16th century. The expelled Jewish communities were impoverished and physically and spiritually depressed. In Italy, which was full of small warring principalities, the expelled Jewish population managed to establish large commercial houses, promoting cultural growth and spiritual independence.

There are about 3.5 million descendants of Jews who were expelled or fled from Spain and Portugal in Israel alone. These descendants are eligible for Portuguese citizenship. Our law firm specializes in immigration law and can assist these descendants in obtaining Portuguese citizenship. Which means that if you qualify, you can obtain a European passport!

Italian Conversos communities:

 Italian Conversos' descendants are eligible for a Portuguese PassportAt the end of the 15th century, expelled Jews from Spain and Portugal arrived in Italy. Most of them were forced to convert to Christianity. They continued to live as Catholics in Italy due to fear of another expulsion. Italy was largely dominated by the Spanish Empire at the time. Spain did not promote religious tolerance towards other religions except Catholic Christianity. The deportees settled in cities such as Venice, Ancona, Ferrara, Genoa and Livorno under the orders of the Spanish Pope Alexander VI. The Pope recognized the Jews were literate and fluent in commerce, and he made use their ties with Jewish merchants of the Ottoman empire to promote the Spanish economic colonization.

In time, additional crypto-Jewish exiles joined the Italian conversos. They concentrated mainly in urban centers in Northern and Central Italy, with the exception of Naples in the south. Naples was the only principality that granted equal rights to its Jews, as decreed by King Ferdinando I as early as 1492. A famous expelled Jew who arrived in Naples that year was the great statesman – Don Isaac Abrabanel, who was considered the most influential and politically astute Jew of the time. He became the finance minister of the Kingdom of Portugal (from which he fled to Spain after being accused of treason against the king), Castile and Aragon. After he traveled to Naples following the expulsion, the king of Naples appointed him as the finance minister as well.

The Culture of Italian Conversos communities

The exiles of Spain and Portugal took pride in their descent. They believed they belonged to two great Iberian kingdoms, which at that time divided the new Americas between them. The expelled populations emphasized their special affiliation as Portuguese or Spanish, isolating themselves from the rest of the Italian Jewish population. The differences were expressed in terms of lifestyle, prayers, graves, synagogues and even business affiliation.

The Sephardic synagogues in Italy resembled the synagogues in Spain and Portugal. The Sephardic and Portuguese synagogue engineers were inspired by Christian artists who built the Baroque architecture represented in the Italian Renaissance. Until the arrival of the Sephardic Jews to Italy, such buildings were mostly unknown among Italian Jewry. The Spanish synagogue in Venice, which stands to this day, was designed by one of the leading Italian engineers at the time, Baldassare Longhena.

Many of Italian Conversos were involved in the printing business, which Italy led from the beginning of the 16th century. For more than 100 years, the Italian Crypto-Jews expanded the Jewish printing business, with the books printed in different languages ​​and exported to the entire Jewish world, especially in the Ottoman Empire. In addition, Jews from around the Mediterranean came to Italy to print their Torah works.

Contact a specialist in immigration to Portugal

The descendants of expelled Jews from Spain and Portugal are entitled to Portuguese citizenship. If you believe you are such a descendants, contact our immigration experts. Arrange a meeting with a lawyer in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, or via phone / skype, to receive legal aid and advice.

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