In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain. For centuries they had been tolerated there, and their labor had helped to build a great country. But King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, anxious to establish their hold over a newly united Spain by means of the Catholic Church and the Inquisition, gave the Jews a stark choice: they must be baptized or flee.
Even though they were not allowed to take gold or silver with them and had to forfeit their homes, 165,000 of them reluctantly chose to go. All they took with them, besides a few simple possessions, was their faith. These Sephardic Jews settled in North Africa, Greece and Turkey. Today their descendants number 2 million. They still keep enormous, ancient house keys that last touched their locks some 500 years ago—symbols of dispossession and of hope that someday they might go home.