Jewish Community of Gibraltar
The Rock of Gibraltar
Gibraltar (often referred to affectionately as the Rock or Gib) is an overseas territory of the UK, occupying a narrow peninsula protruding from Spain's southern Mediterranean coast. It was captured from Spain in 1704 and formally ceded to the Kingdom of Great Britain (later the United Kingdom), in perpetuity, under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.
Gibraltar became a British Crown Colony in 1830. In 1981, its status was changed to that of a "British Dependent Territory", which term was replaced by "British Overseas Territory" in 2002. Gibraltar is part of the European Union and Gibraltarians have full British citizenship.
It is believed that there were Jews in Gibraltar prior to its capture in 1462 by Spanish (Castilian) forces, which ended 700 years of Moorish rule. In 1474, Gibraltar was sold to a group of Jewish conversos (Spanish and Portuguese Jews who, generally under force, had converted to Catholicism). However, two years later, the conversos (estimated to number some 4,350) were expelled as part of the Spanish Inquisition.
In 1705, shortly following the capture of Gibraltar by Anglo-Dutch forces, a number of Jewish merchants (primarily from London, Lisbon, Livorno and Tetuan, Morocco) settled in the town and established a community, only to be expelled in 1717, at Spain's insistence, pursuant to the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht. Within a year or two, Jews again resettled in Gibraltar, principally from Tetuan, and by 1754, formed one third of the total population.
The present Jewish population, almost exclusively Sephardic, numbering some 600 persons, maintains a vibrant community, with four active synagogues, Jewish schools and kosher restaurants.
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