Sephardic Chief Rabbi Harav Yitzchak Yosef, who is currently visiting Panama in South America, met Friday with the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela. He urged Varela to continue to stand beside Israel and to continue to assist the active and vibrant Jewish community in his country.
The Panamanian president was also invited to come for an official visit to Israel and promised to do so as soon as possible.
The Chief Rabbi praised the president for the freedom of religion that is exercised in full in his country, allowing the Jews to live and practice a religious life. “In this day and age,” said Harav Yosef, “it is not self-understood that Jews can safely and confidently exercise religious freedom in many countries, even in Western countries. This is not the case in Panama, where Jews are living safely, in the manner they wish.”
President Varela welcomed Harav Yosef warmly, emphasizing that although he is not Jewish, he feels close to the Jews, and “I welcome you, in the same manner I would greet the supreme leader of my religion. I have great respect for Jews and the Jewish religion, and ask that you pass on to the Jewish community in Panama that they can continue to live in full religious freedom.”
The two discussed the security situation in Israel and President Varela was interested in details of the terror that Israel faces on a daily basis. President Varela asked the Chief Rabbi to pass on his good wishes to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, emphasizing that he felt solidarity with the people of Israel, and that he intends to visit Israel very soon, and “until then, we will continue to support your country,” he said.