A group of European rabbis awarded Spain’s king a prize this week for his country’s efforts to bring Jewish life back to Spain.
The Conference of European Rabbis, an Orthodox group, presented the award to King Felipe VI in a ceremony at a royal palace outside of Madrid.
The award was in recognition of a Spanish law that will award Spanish citizenship to Sephardic Jews. Implementation of the law has been delayed by the country’s many-months-long failure to form a government, despite two rounds of elections. Spain’s government says that more than 4,000 Sephardic Jews have received Spanish citizenship under the new law.
This writer traveled to Spain in 2014 and reported on the conceptual problems with Spain’s citizenship offer.
The rabbis, apparently, do not share his concerns. “In an era where anti-Semitism is on the rise throughout Europe, Spain has taken extraordinary measures to make its Jews feel welcome,” said Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the CER. “Not only did the minister of justice acknowledge the expulsion of what he has called an ‘historic mistake’, he ensured that action was taken to rectify it.”
In his own address, the Spanish king said that Europe needs its Jews. “We need to be honest and respectful to both our common Judeo-Christian values and origins, and the more broader or universal sense of true human values we are trying to extend and defend world-wide,” he said.