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Capital City of Panama Honors Rabbi

The capital city of Panama has honored a prominent Jewish scholar and educator. Rabbi Heszel Klepfisz was recognized as a “deserving citizen of the District of Panama” according to the citation that accompanied the “Key to the City” presented to him by Mayor Nelson Espino.

The ceremonies at the Municlpal Palace were attended by members of the national and local governments, Catholic church dignitaries and representatives of the Jewish community. City Council President Mayin Correa praised Dr. Klepfisz for his “work in the service of the world and of Panama.”

In his acceptance speech, Klepfisz said, “In my view, what gives Panama City a place of honor among cities is its spirit of tolerance, its great human warmth and its respect for the individual — his righs, his beliefs and his traditions.”

The 72 year-old rabbi was the winner of the 1981 prize for Jewish intellectual merit presented by the World Jewish Congress Latin American branch. He was born in Poland, ordained in Warsaw in 1930, received his Ph. D. from the University of Warsaw in 1934 and a Doctorate in literature in Zurich in 1936.

He served as a rabbi in Warsaw and in Holland and taught at the Glasgow Hebrew College and at the Jewish College in Miami, Florida before settling in Panama in 1961. He headed Panama’s Albert Einstein School from 1961-78 and was a professor at the University of Panama from 1963-78.

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