Blue and white will run up Fifth Avenue this Sunday after a three-year break resulting from the pandemic. The Celebrate Israel Parade will host dozens of schools, synagogues, nonprofits, companies, and elected officials expressing support for the Jewish state.
“This year’s parade will be marked by the unity among all the movements of the Jewish people and between Israel and the Diaspora, and will be a crushing response to the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States and terrorism in Israel,” said Gideon Taylor, the CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the organizer of the parade. “We are excited to walk the streets again and demonstrate our support for the State of Israel.”
Dignitaries from Israel expected to march include Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai, Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, MK Ofir Akunis, Gilad Kariv, UN Envoy Gilad Erdan, and the Consul General Asaf Zamir. The group represents the highly diverse governing coalition and members of the Likud-led Knesset opposition.
Local elected officials will include Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, and Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican from Long Island running to unseat Hochul in this year’s election.
The parade had its start in 1964 on Riverside Drive, later relocating to the queen of Manhattan’s avenues. Each year, a theme generated by the parade committee sparked creativity among participating groups as their banners, floats, and costumes reflected its message. This year’s slogan, “Together Again,” speaks of the return to Fifth Avenue and the ability to visit Israel after the lifting of travel restrictions.
“Yeshiva Har Torah hopes to be able to join in the Celebrate Israel Parade to express our deep love for and connection to the State of Israel,” said Rabbi Gary Menchel, the Rosh HaYeshivah at Har Torah. “We have missed the energy and excitement associated with this special event and hope it will be back at full strength this year.”
Yeshiva of Central Queens, HANC, HALB, Rambam Mesivta, and North Shore Hebrew Academy are also among other local schools who will be marching in this year’s parade.
“We are very motivated and excited to display our love for our homeland Israel at this year’s parade. It is especially wonderful since we have a renewed appreciation for the parade after three years of not being able to have it. We are proudly marching up Fifth Avenue this Sunday with approximately 200 marchers,” said Rabbi Mark Landsman, principal at YCQ.
Musical acts will include Israeli songwriter Eliad Nachum, and rappers Kosha Dillz and Nissim Black. The latter is in the midst of producing a comedy show on HBO Max, Motherland Bounce, named for one of his songs, on his spiritual quest from a gangster rapper to a chasidic convert who continues to rap before a new audience.
In recent weeks, hostility towards Israel was demonstrated locally on March 31, when hundreds of protesters marched across Midtown chanting “Intifada until victory.”
Among reporters, the death of Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11 during a shootout between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists in Jenin resulted in many negative headlines for Israel, even as it seeks to conduct an investigation together with the Palestinian Authority. Instead of cooperation, the Palestinians used this tragedy as an excuse to discredit not only Israel’s military conduct, but its entire existence.
In the three years since the last Celebrate Israel Parade, the Jewish homeland has had plenty of good to show the world in its response to the pandemic, assistance to Ukrainian refugees, and the most diverse governing coalition in its history. In this country, a new president was elected, and the American embassy remains in Jerusalem, along with bipartisan support towards funding Israel’s security needs.
Attending this parade shows that the community that donates, votes, and writes in support of Israel also demonstrates in person, giving encouragement to the students marching that their presence on Fifth Avenue is more than a school assignment; it is a show of strength, bolstered by the cheering of crowds on the sidelines.
By Sergey Kadinsky