Panama Jewish Records

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The first Jews to arrive in Panama were Spanish and Portuguses Conversos, who like many others were forced to practice their Judaism in secret. This only began to change in 1821 when Panama became attached to Colombia at the end of colonial rule. The first Jews to arrive were a few Sephardic families from Jamaica and Ashkenazic Jews from The Netherlands. The first Jewish Congregation, Kol Shearith Israel, was founded in 1876.

Following the completion of the Panama Canal, Jewish migration into Panama increased, however it was not until 1933 that a second Congregation was established. Jews from Syria and Israel established that congregation, Shevet Achim and built a synagogue. A third synagogue, Beth El, was established by Jews who had fled Nazi Germany.

Today, the Jewish population of Panama is less than 10,000, mostly located in Panama City. An interesting fact is that Panama is the only country other than Israel, which has had two Jewish Presidents during the 20th Century: Max Delvalle and Eric Delvalle Maduro.

Records at Family History Library

Records Online


Some of the records of the Jews of Panama, aand othe countries where they originated have now been indexed and added to the Knowles Collection. The collection is comprised of five individual databases that contain the records of the Jews of the world.