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Elizabeth Azulay Gardner

I started uncovering my Sephardic roots in 2017 after I discovered on a trip to Spain that I was entitled to Spanish citizenship if I could prove my lineage to the Jews who were expelled in 1492.I knew nothing about my family history – my father hid our Jewish roots from me and changed his last name from Azulay to Gardner in the 1950’s before I was born. He never told me this, and instead would make up stories about the Gardners we descended from. Then about 25 years ago I found letters from my grandfather among my father’s possessions, which is how I learned our family name is truly Azulay. Thereafter I legally changed my name to Elizabeth Azulay Gardner, but still knew close to nothing about our history. After returning from a trip to Spain in November of 2017 and learning about the Law of Return, I decided to give it a shot and started digging into my family history in the off-chance I could prove my lineage. I quite quickly learned to my delight that I am the 5th great granddaughter of The Chida, the Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulay, and because there is so so much written about him, I was soon able to learn the actual name of the Rabbi who led my family to Fez and safety in 1492, Avraham Azulay. Because of the breath of research that has been done about The Chida, I now know the general path my forbearers took first through Morocco, then Palestine, Germany and the UK before my grandfather Maurice Azulay emigrated to New York from the UK in the early 1900’s. On Monday I am actually flying to Spain to officially apply for my citizenship! I feel like I was given such a gift when I was inspired to undertake this research after visiting Spain, and am so proud of and fascinated by my history, and only wish I could have learned more about it from my family. I cannot wait to see the film! Becoming Spanish feels like an act of reversing the shame and the secrets I come from and restoring the rights of my amazing ancestors.