Israel rabbi recognises Majorca Jewish community
A senior Israeli rabbi has officially recognised as Jewish the small Chueta community on Spain's island of Majorca, centuries after their ancestors were forced to convert to Roman Catholicism.
The recognition was issued by Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, the head of a religious court in the Israeli city of Bnei Brak, after years of campaigning by Shavei Israel, an Israeli group that seeks out so-called "lost" Jewish communities.
In a statement, the group's chairman Michael Freud called the recognition a "historic development."
"This ruling removes any doubts or questions that may have existed regarding their status," he said.
"The Chuetas no longer need to live in between worlds -- we have succeeded in opening the door for them to come home. And I hope and pray that many will do so."
Karelitz's ruling noted that the community had made an effort to intermarry, preserving the Jewish bloodline.
"All those who are related to the former generations are Jews, from our brethren the children of Israel, the nation of God," he wrote.
The ruling does not confirm the Jewish status of every member of the community, and Shavei Israel said examinations of individuals' family histories would be necessary to determine whether they were Jewish.
Between 15,000 and 20,000 Chuetas live on Majorca at present, though the organisation said many had married outside of the community.
© 2011 AFP