(September 19, 2022 / JNS) Millions of descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, whose ancestors were forcibly converted from the 14th Century onwards, can now apply for a Certificate of Sephardic Ancestry, it was announced Monday.
The initiative was launched by the American Sephardic Federation’s Institute of Jewish Experience, Reconectar, which helps descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities reconnect with the Jewish people, and Genie Milgrom, an author, researcher and genealogist.
“The Certificate of Sephardic Ancestry is historic for so many around the world and especially in Latin and North America who yearn to connect with their past and up to now have had no way to accomplish this,” said Milgrom, who was able to document her unbroken Jewish maternal lineage back 22 generations to 1405.
Help in applying for the certification, along with Milgrom’s genealogy tools designed for people with Crypto-Jewish and Sephardic lineages, is available on the institute’s website.
Recent research shows that as many as 200 million people, mainly in Latin and North America and Europe, have “significant Jewish ancestry” dating back to the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal.
The certification process involves filling out a questionnaire that covers background, customs, family trees, and items with a Jewish connection that provide hints about a person’s Jewish heritage.
The information will then be assessed by a team of experts who will decide if the applicant should be awarded the certificate.
The certificate has no legal status, but Milgrom said many with Jewish ancestry have said it would provide them with a sense of pride and identity.
Ashley Perry (Perez), president of Reconectar and director of the Knesset Caucus for the Reconnection with the Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese, said, “We have witnessed in recent years an unprecedented interest amongst those whose Jewish ancestors were forcibly converted to reconnect with their heritage and learn more about their past.”
“This is a paradigm-shaping moment in Jewish history, because for the first time tens of millions of those whose ancestors were forcibly disconnected from the Jewish people have the tools to seek some type of reconnection,” he said.
“The certificate we are offering is a way to connect formally with their Jewish heritage and reconnect with their people,” he added.
The link to apply for the Certificate of Sephardic Ancestry can be found at: instituteofjewishexperience.org/certificate-of-sephardic-ancestry/
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