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As part of a heartfelt tribute to the memory of former Venezuelan President Eleazar Lopez Contreras, a “Celebration Night for Israel” took place on Feb. 16 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Panama City, organized by the Latino Coalition for Israel, whose leader, Pastor Mario Bramnick, was the promoter of a historic evening of brotherhood at which the main authorities of the Evangelical Alliance of Panama and the Jewish Community of Panama were present.

David Djemal, senior vice president of B’nai B’rith International, gave an address on behalf of the local Kehilá, speaking about the importance of continuing to deepen cooperation between the evangelical and Jewish communities, as well as remembering the role Contreras played when, in 1939, he made the decision to receive 251 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria who roamed the Caribbean on the Caribia and Köenigstein vessels in search of a new homeland before arriving in Venezuela. Also in attendance were Max Joe Harari, president of the Central Hebrew Community Council of Panama; Jacky Eskenazi, president of the Shevet Ahim Synagogue; Michael Ostrowiak, president of Beth El Synagogue; Frank Kardonski, former president of the Kol Shearith Israel Congregation; and Rabbi David Perets, Chief Rabbi of the Shevet Ahim Synagogue, who gave a moving address bearing blessings and good wishes for all those present.

The night highlighted the excellent relations between the evangelical and Jewish communities, a topic highlighted in particular by the ambassador of Israel in Panama, Itai Bardov; by Sammy Eppel, director of Hatzad HaSheini and B’nai B’rith International; by Pastor Cipriano Gil, president of the Evangelical Alliance of Panama; and by Maruja Gorday de Villalobos, minister of education of Panama. Her speech highlighted the historical contribution of the Panamanian Jewish community to the well-being of her country, highlighting the solid ties of friendship between the State of Israel and the Republic of Panama.