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(808 words)

Author(s): Margalit Bejarano
The first Sephardi Jew to set foot on the island of Cuba, and indeed in America, was the converso Luis de Torres, the interpreter of Columbus, in 1492. There is little information about the presence of crypto-Jews on the island during the colonial period, but at least fifteen persons were sent from Havana to stand trial in Cartagena for secretly practicing Judaism. During the nineteenth century a few Sephardi Jews from Curaçao and other Caribbean islands settled in Cuba, but the admission of Jews was officially prohibited until the end of Spanish rule in …


(533 words)

Author(s): Margalit Bejarano
Panama, a republic in Central America, is unique in the ethnic composition of its Jewish community: the oldest communal organization was founded by Sephardim of Portuguese descent from the Caribbean islands; the largest group is made up of  Jews from the Middle East; Ashkenazim are a small minority in a community dominated by Sephardim and Mizraḥim.  Jews were not allowed to settle in Panama under Spanish colonial rule, but there were some crypto-Jews among the merchants who used the Isthmus of Panama as a transit route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. After th…