Spanish Citizenship And Your Ketubah

Modena, Italy, 1785 Ketubah Jewish Wedding by The Jewish Museum
Modena, Italy, 1785

Ketubahs are binding according to Halacha, Jewish law, but don’t often hold much weight legally. Sephardic Jews have a long and rich history in Spain, dating back to the Roman Empire. However, after the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, many Sephardic Jews were forced to flee the country. Despite this, many Sephardic communities still preserve their heritage, including their language, customs, and traditions. This self-preservation has seen the Sephardic community thrive, and due to a recent law, has helped many Jews prove their Spanish heritage.

Reggio Emilia, Italy, 1840 Ketubah For Sale by The National Library Of Israel
Reggio Emilia, Italy, 1840

In recent years, the Spanish government has recognized the significance of the Ketubah as evidence of Sephardic ancestry and has established a process for Sephardic descendants to apply for Spanish citizenship. To be eligible, an individual must provide proof of Sephardic ancestry, including documentation of their family history and a certificate of competence in the Spanish language. However, for many Sephardic descendants, the most valuable piece of evidence is the Ketubah itself. The Spanish government recognizes the Ketubah as an official document that provides evidence of the couple’s Jewish faith and their connection to the Sephardic community. In many cases, the Ketubah also includes information about the couple’s parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents, providing a rich and detailed record of the family’s heritage.

Isfahan, Persia, 1818 Ketubah Toronto by The Jewish Museum
Isfahan, Persia, 1818

While this window for obtaining Spanish citizenship only lasted a few years, it’s incredible in modern times to see a country take steps to legitimize a religious document. Acknowledging the historical and legal significance of the Ketubah as a tangible symbol of the couple’s connection to their cultural heritage and the Spanish community is a good step towards righting historical wrongs.

Source: The rite of Castilla in the marriage contract of the Sephardim originating from Spain