WELCOME TO GO KOSHER PANAMA!
Our website is specially designed to help you learn about Panama and prepare for the most fantastic kosher vacation in the tropics. We have compiled all the information you will need in order to plan a long or short vacation, or even a quick business trip.
Panama has always been a magnet for Jews. Historically, some came to escape religious persecution in their homelands. Others have come for the economic stability that Panama has experienced since the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914.
A Message from the Owner of GoKosherPanama.com
Hello. I am Esther Zebede Schwartz, owner and creator of GoKosherPanama.com. I was born and raised in Panama. Back then, the country had a strong but limited Jewish community, mostly Sephardic, with a single Solomon Schechter-type school for Jewish learning. Today, things have changed greatly. Panama now has yeshivas, kollels, and a much larger observant Jewish population.
Because of my familiarity with Panama, friends and acquaintances have asked me over the years for travel tips there, such as where to find kosher food, where to stay, and what places to visit. Realizing that Panama has become a desirous tropical vacation spot for the kosher traveler, I decided to create a comprehensive website for the kosher traveler to Panama. That’s how GoKosherPanama.com was born.
I hope the site is most helpful to you. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.
While Jews have been settling in Panama since before the turn of the 20th century, the biggest segment of the Jewish population emigrated from Syria, starting in the 1930s. They inaugurated the Orthodox synagogue called Shevet Ahim, which today is the largest Jewish congregation in Panama. With the additional waves of Syrian immigrants in the 1970s and 1990s, Panama City is now one of the strongest and most closely-knit Jewish communities outside of Israel and the United States.
Over the past two decades, the mostly traditional Sephardic community has seen a tremendous growth in Orthodox practice. New neighborhoods have been established, and older ones have expanded, with the construction of modern high-rise towers. The buildings, which include Shabbat elevators, are strategically located near the numerous local synagogues, in order to accommodate the many community members who no longer travel on Shabbat.
With approximately 15,000 Jews in Panama City, there are 5 Orthodox shuls with daily minyanim & shiurim, as well as several yeshivas, mikvahs, and a Kollel.
As a result of the Jewish community’s transformation, the number of kosher food providers has exploded, since adherence to stricter kashrut norms are now being followed by the overwhelming percentage of Jews in Panama City. An abundance of meat and dairy restaurants, bakeries, and dessert locales have opened and are now thriving. Kosher supermarkets and caterers for large social events have found that the demand for kosher food continues to grow at lightning speed.
The global hospitality industry has also taken notice of this growth. Numerous hotels are open in the Jewish neighborhoods, or at most a 10 to 15 minute walking distance to the synagogues and kosher restaurants.
Now that you know why Panama is the perfect location for your kosher vacation, also know there is so much more to see and do than just the Panama Canal.
Panama offers a wide range of both land and sea experiences. You can take day trips to the rainforest, spend a few days at the beaches and resorts, visit a native Indian village, or even join an excursion to one of the beautiful islands on either the northern Atlantic or southern Pacific coasts of Panama.
(Did you know that Panama is the only place in North, South and Central America where you can look eastward toward the Pacific Ocean?)
In short, Panama has got EVERYTHING for the kosher traveler! Enjoy the abundance of kosher food in Panama City to take with you on your travels, near or far, as you experience the beauty, climate and excitement that Panama has to offer.
So now take a tour of our “one-stop shop” to plan your ultimate tropical kosher vacation. There is an extensive FAQ section to answer many of your questions and connect with others in our Facebook group who have experienced Go Kosher Panama!