By CEYLAN YEGINSU
The New York Times - MAY 26, 2015
ISTANBUL — For Rafi, a local newspaper’s anti-Semitic crossword puzzle was the final affront. He knew he had to leave Turkey.
“There are many reasons to leave: a lack of work opportunities, growing polarization within society and oppressive leadership. But the hatred toward our community has been the tipping point for me,” said Rafi, 25, a graphic designer based in Istanbul, who provided only his first name out of fear of harassment by Turkish nationalists. “There is no future here.”
Rafi is one of thousands of Sephardic Jews in Turkey who trace their ancestry to Spain and are now applying for Spanish citizenship in anticipation of a parliamentary bill expected to pass this month in Madrid that would grant nationality to the Jews who were expelled in 1492, during the Inquisition.
Most are seeking visa-free travel within Europe and an opportunity to escape what they see as rising anti-Semitism in Turkey. But many are taken with the idea of reversing the trek their ancestors took centuries ago as they escaped persecution in Spain and settled in the more tolerant environs of the Ottoman Empire.