BALBOA, Canal Zone (Jan. 15)
Rabbi Nathan Witkin, director of the National Jewish Welfare Board’s Armed Services Center here, who serves as USO area director for the Canal Zone, has reported that the situation at the Center is quiet and there is no cause for concern. Through its sponsorship of the Center, JWB is the only mainland national Jewish organization operating in the Canal Zone.
The Center serves U.S. military and civilian personnel in the area and in addition has been a focal point for communal activities involving citizens of the Republic of Panama. It was pictured on a recent postage stamp issued by Panama as one of a series of religious edifices on the Isthmus. The Center conducts a full-scale religious, cultural and recreational program.
Despite tensions which have existed between Panama and the U.S. over the Canal Zone issue, the Republic of Panama has from time to time recognized the contributions made by the Center. In 1962 Rabbi Witkin received the Order of Balboa, the highest decoration given by Panama, in honor of his 25 years of service. The citation accompanying the award paid tribute to his “social welfare activities which benefit both the Panama and Canal Zone civilian communities” and hailed him as a silent ambassador who has been able to solidify the civilian and religious groups within his mission in the Caribbean area.”