Updated: Jul 25, 2020
(Adela, Rachel, Lindley at the famous Mezquita in Córdoba, Spain)
Mission: Get a Spanish Passport, is a go!
It's official! My two sisters and I have submitted our applications to the government to become Spanish citizens. We are pursuing our citizenship through a law,
"Seeking to redress one of the darkest chapters of Spain’s history, the Spanish Parliament on Thursday approved a long-awaited law devised to open the way for citizenship for thousands of Sephardic Jews whose ancestors were expelled in 1492" - NY Times.
My aunt Ana did the research and has tracked my family line back to the 1400s where a great, great ... great grandfather, Alfonso Rael de Aguilar, was expelled for being Jewish, and he later became the first mayor of Santa Fe, New Mexico. When he moved to the new world he converted to Catholicism, which has remained the religion of his descendants all the way down to me.
It has been really interesting to learn about our heritage and the battles our ancestors fought. I can say that those who came before me were neither good nor bad, but doing what they had to in order to stay alive.
I found it painful at some points to read about family that had been expelled from Spain (or killed) who later conquered Native lands after migrating to New Mexico; it seems that they would have been more understanding. I struggle to understand this. Some of my grandparents were Spanish conquistadors, and others were Native American slaves. My heritage is both Native and Spanish. We found out too that we are direct descendants of Christopher Columbus' sister. The dualism in being a crypto Jew and Conquistador just seems so conflicted. Our ancestors were so tangled up. It reminds me that we are all more alike than we are different. And we have to be careful not to Otherize.
(page 81 of 201 of my pedigree chart)
It was crazy to see all the New Mexican last names listed on my giant pedigree chart: Lucero, Sanchez, Gonzales, Castillo, Duran, Roybal, Trujillo, Romero, Torres, Tapia, Valdez, Garcia, Herrera, Montoya, Rodriguez, Baca, Archuleta, Lujan, Mendoza, Jaramillo, Zamora, Salazar, Moya... these are names I grew up hearing. We all likely link back to Spain.
You can read this excerpt about my great great... great grandfather, Rael de Aguilar, in To the End of the Earth: A History of Crypto-Jews of New Mexico, by Stanley M. Hordes
August 28, 2019
My sisters and I traveled to Málaga, Spain to submit our applications for citizenship and sign with the Spanish notary. Our application included:
FBI background check
NM State background checks with a letter of good standing
CCSE certificate (a test we passed on Spanish government and culture)
DELE certificate (Spanish language test we passed)
Passport and Driver's license copies
Special link to Spain (lived in Spain, knowledge of Spanish or a NGO donation)
Certificate of Jewish Heritage
Birth/Marriage certificates *And all of this had to be apostilled and translated (insert sweating emoji).
I would say it took us about six to eight months to gather everything and pass the tests. But here we are at the notary's office on August 28, 2019! Our aunt Ana and cousin Emilia accompanied us, as they have gone through the process and now live in Spain.
Last step: wait.
We will patiently wait 16 to 18 months for an email that says our citizenship has been granted! From there we will get an appointment with a Consulate of Spain, swear an oath, and move forward on passports and other Spanish documentation.