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Portuguese Passport for Immigrants from Holland

Jordan Levy-Bograd
Jordan Levy-Bograd

Dutch Jews with a Spanish connection are entitled to a Portuguese passport. Along with them, hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish South Americans who have lived in American countries for centuries are also eligible. If by genealogy research they can prove a connection to Jews of Spanish-Dutch descent, they will be recognized as eligible for a Portuguese passport for Dutch Emigrants.

Here, we explain the process of obtaining a Portuguese passport through our law firm, which specializes in immigration to Portugal. Our firm assists descendants of deportees from Spain to obtain Portuguese citizenship. We work with genealogists who help our clients with the necessary research to verify their Spanish descent.

Portuguese Passport for Immigrants from Holland

Portuguese Passport for Immigrants from Holland

In 1492 the expulsion of Spain took place. More than 150,000 Jews were expelled from their homes, and another 100,000 were forcibly converted to Christianity. This deportation is considered to have been the most extreme in the history of Jews in the diaspora. It broke the spirit of many believers in the salvation of God and caused masses of Jews to abandon the religion of their ancestors.

However, 80,000 Jews found immediate refuge in neighboring Portugal, which at the time was considered as advanced and “enlightened” as Spain. But, after only five years, the Portuguese king passed a similar decree expelling all the Jewish subjects of Portugal.

Unlike Spain, the Portuguese authorities did not wait until the last minute to expel the Jews, and they forced tens of thousands of Jewish subjects of Portugal to be immediately baptized and converted to Christianity. The remaining thousands were forced to become prisoners all at once, and were led to the Portuguese colonies in Africa, where they became slaves for the remainder of their lives.

The Life of the Jews in Portugal

Due to fear of ongoing religious persecution, tens of thousands of Jews lived in Portugal under the guise of Christians for centuries. They lived under constant suspicion and rage on the part of the locals due to their “loyalty” to Christianity. This is why in foreign languages they were called “crypto-Jews” – hidden Jews. However, they were better known by the common derogatory name “Marranos,” meaning pigs. Among their brethren, however, they were sympathetically called “Anusim,” meaning coerced.

In 1536 the Portuguese Inquisition was officially founded. In its early years, it secretly persecuted heretic Christians who did not adhere to the strictures of Catholic orthodoxy. However, toward the end of the 16th century, the religious institution began a systematic process of exposing Jews who secretly observed Judaism. These Jews received cruel punishments in public, such as flogging, torture, tearing of body parts while alive, and the most infamous act of burning at the stake.

Due to the Portuguese Jews’ extreme fear of the Inquisition’s horrific acts, they decided to move to a place where they could openly practice their religion. Because of the great knowledge that they possessed, and because they were successful traders across many countries, they knew the way of life of each country in which they traded. This is why many of them chose to emigrate to the liberal Netherlands.

The Arrival of Portuguese Anusim in Holland – Portuguese Citizenship for Jews

At the end of the 16th century, about 3,000 Jewish Anusim from the Portuguese coastal cities arrived in the bustling port city of Amsterdam. The port city was in its early stages to become one of the most influential, powerful, and rich cities in Europe.

At the time, the Dutch were in the midst of a long war with the Spanish Empire, which was later called the “Eighty Years’ War” (1568–1648). Why is this war relevant to our discussion?

During the 16th century, Protestant Christianity was received with open arms in Holland. However, when the Catholic Spaniards came to conquer the lowlands, they forced their religion on the local population. As a result, tens of thousands of Dutch citizens were massacred.

Due to the great suffering that took place in Holland, the Dutch became aware of the Spanish hostility and the destructive power of Catholicism. Following the war and its deadly consequences, the Dutch grew liberal, empathetic, and tolerant toward other religions. This is how foreign believers like the Jews were unusually accepted.

The Portuguese Jews whose ancestors were expelled from Spain and also suffered from uncompromising Catholic zealousness understood the Dutch plight more than anyone else. The Anusim first settled in Amsterdam and then also in the cities of Rotterdam, Alkmaar, and Haarlem. However, the most influential and famous community was the one in Amsterdam.

For decades, the Anusim secretly and gradually moved in groups from the unenlightened Portugal to the enlightened Amsterdam. By the middle of the 17th century, the Jewish community in Holland had reached about 6,000 members.

The Life of the Anusim in Holland

The reason for the immigration enabled the Portuguese Jews to build a strong international trade network from the Netherlands. This large-scale monopoly was in trade relations with European countries, the Middle East, North Africa, and more.

In addition, the community of Anusim initiated extensive trade relations between the Dutch state and South America. The Anusim also contributed significantly to the establishment of the Dutch West India Company in 1621, with some members of the community serving as distinguished board members.

However, despite the variety of liberal professions that Jews were prevented from taking part in, such as law or obtaining a professorship, the community of Anusim comprised a largely educated class. Among the members of the community were famous doctors such as the Bueno family, who even served the Dutch royal family – the Order of the House of Orange. Business owners thrived in tobacco trade, pharmaceutical trade, meat trade, and more. Also, the Anusim were excellent entrepreneurs who set up sugar refineries, printing houses, bookstores, and so on.

Dutch Jews in the Expanded Areas Conquered by Holland – Obtaining a Portuguese Passport for Immigrants from Holland

At the beginning of the 17th century, warships full of soldiers set out from the shores of Holland. The goal was to conquer parts of South America in order to expand Dutch influence in the area, as well as increase state revenues by utilizing resources in the new continent.

The Dutch ships soon took over some of the Caribbean islands, then the Recife area of ​​northern Brazil, Suriname, the island of Curaçao and, of course, New York, which at the time was called “New Amsterdam.”

After these conquests and following the trend of expanding Dutch trade in the Americas, the authorities in Holland encouraged immigration to the new colonies. As a result, a large number of Portuguese Jews left Holland and came to live in the “New World.” They first came as business people, but soon invited their families, thus establishing a rich and influential Jewish community.

However, over time, a significant portion of them assimilated among the locals and the Christian population. Today the estimate is that there are millions of such descendants in North America, Central America and, especially, South America.

If you can prove that 200 or 400 years ago your ancestors were among the Jews who came to the American continent from Holland, you are entitled to a Portuguese passport. This is possible, and is done on a daily basis at our office, thanks to genealogists employed by us.

Among the Dutch Jews there were hundreds of surnames that, to this day, are common among many South American residents. Here are some examples: Cardoso, Pinto, Abendana, Fonseca, Belmonte, Attias / Atias / Athias, Castro, de Leon, da Costa, Sasportas, Yeshurun, Mesquita, Sarfati / Sarfatti / Sarphati / Serfaty / Sarfate / Sarfaty / Sarfity / Zarfati / Tsarfati / Tsarfaty / Tzarfati / Serfati, Oliveira, Pardo, de La Vega, Palachi / Palacci / Pallache, Francis, Spinoza, Aboab, Maduro, and many more.

Contact Us – Eligibility for a Portuguese Passport for Immigrants from Holland

Our law firm specializes in immigration to Portugal and in obtaining Portuguese citizenship for deportees from Spain. We have a professional staff that specializes in the Portuguese immigration law system. For more details, contact us through the phones or email address listed below.

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