ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new program is allowing people with Spanish and Jewish ancestry connect with their past, and the Jewish Federation of New Mexico is getting involved in a unique way.
It is a program with roots dating back 500 years.
The Spanish government has opened a window to grant citizenship to Jews forced to flee during the Spanish Inquisition.
“This is a small window of time that will quickly shut and we want people to know about this opportunity because a large percentage of New Mexicans who have deep roots in our state are actually eligible,” Sara Koplik, Jewish Federation of New Mexico said.
The Jewish Federation of New Mexico is the only organization in the country that is helping people prove their Jewish and Spanish ancestry, including people who are no longer practicing the religion.
Koplik says after the Spanish Inquisition, many hidden Jews traveled to the new world.
“And then there was a second inquisition, second round of persecutions in Mexico so they fled to the edges of the empire into New Mexico,” Koplik said.
Maria Sanchez is going through the process of Spanish citizenship herself. She says it’s an emotional one.
“You can start to be proud of who you are again, we’re not lost anymore, we have that identify of who we are,” Sanchez said.
The program is only open for a year and a half longer.
Koplik says they have so far helped a couple people go through entire long process but they are working with more than a hundred others.
The work that the Jewish federation of New Mexico is doing is only one part of the process, which is certifying people’s heritage.
Those who wish to apply must also go through background checks, have knowledge of Spanish history and know the language to a degree.