Panama’s president visits country’s first synagogue to celebrate its 140th birthday

RIO DE JANEIRO – Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela attended a ceremony to mark the 140th anniversary of the Central American country’s first synagogue.
“The Jewish presence in Panama was born committed to the fate of this small nation, and that heritage has been enriched throughout the history of the country to the present day”, Varela said last week at the Kol Shearith Israel congregation during a ceremony attended by several government, diplomatic and religious officials.
Varela recalled that the Jewish presence in Panama began in the middle of the 19th century and that the country’s Jewish community has been very strong as “active builders of a nation in which the purpose of being an independent country began.” He also made reference to the Thousand Days’ War of 1899-1902, when a Jewish banker and other volunteers under his leadership funded the burial of hundreds of the fallen fighters.
Panama is home to some 15,000 Jews.
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