Calls for the return of hostages were heard amid patriotic pop songs at the Celebrate Israel Parade in Manhattan this past Sunday, which was rebranded for this year as Israel Day on Fifth. Rising to the security challenges following an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents following the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, a record number of participants and spectators were determined to be heard and seen.

CUNY students


“This is not a mood of confetti and music,” the CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Mark Treyger, said. “This is more of a mood of unwavering, ironclad solidarity with hostages to bring them home, and also our unwavering love and pride in our Jewish identity.” His organization has been spearheading the annual gathering since 1964, which brings together supporters of Israel from across the religious and political spectrum.

Eden Golan


“This is a moment that we have to meet,” he added. Treyger stood alongside New York’s leading political voices, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Tish James, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Mayor Eric Adams, among others. They were joined by nearly 70 family members of hostages held in Gaza since the war began eight months ago.



Schumer spoke of support for the hostages, but many in the crowd jeered him for his failure to speak more forcefully against anti-Semitism within his party and for calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign. I withheld my voice in recognition of last week’s invitation for Netanyahu to address both chambers of Congress, which he signed alongside Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, maintaining the bipartisan consensus for Israel in the Capitol.



Among lawmakers who received the biggest cheers along the route, Rep. Ritchie Torres of the Bronx blended into the SAR contingent, wearing the school’s shirt in a reception befitting a rock star. Prior to the parade, he stood with Reps. Tom Suozzi and Dan Goldman to express support for the families of hostages Omer Neurta and Itay Chen, two American Jews whose parents met with President Biden to press their case. Neutra’s status is unknown, and Chen was confirmed as dead with his remains held by terrorists.



An actual pop star waved from the UJA-Federation of New York float, Eden Golan, who placed fifth in this year’s Eurovision contest in Sweden, where she faced hostile crowds, hostile fellow contestants, and hostile judges. At the start of the parade, she stood with Mayor Adams, who assured her that support for Israel among New Yorkers remains high.

Israel Parade Levenshtein Hospital and Rehab banner


“Today, you see the solidarity. The loudest is not the majority in the city. The majority of the city support the Jewish community here; they support destroying and moving hate out of our city,” he said.



Unprecedented security at the parade included limited entrances to Fifth Avenue, where spectators passed through metal detectors. The Central Park side of the parade was closed, there were no seats, and backpacks and food containers were banned; but crowds came to show strength in numbers and express support for the hostages. Many carried posters and wore stickers with the faces of those whose status is known only to their captors. The usual anti-Israel protest area in front of the Plaza Hotel was pushed farther away from the parade to prevent disruptions.

Merkaz Academy of Plainview at the parade


I’ve been participating in the parade since my teens, as an artist, reporter, participant, and spectator. When I was single, I had all the time to be there from the Met Council political breakfast that preceded it, to the Concert with a Message in Central Park that followed it. I’ve seen Holocaust survivors and veterans of World War II and Israel’s War of Independence becoming older and fewer over the years. The number of elected officials has also diminished; some have other events to attend, and others are simply not supportive of our country’s relationship with Israel.

MTA students


This year, my daughter is in fourth grade, at which her participation in the parade is mandatory in her school. Assigned by lottery, some schools marched shortly after the kickoff at 11 a.m. and others appeared on the route up to three hours later. Her school, the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, had a long wait this year and it gave me an opportunity to see other schools and organizations that marched ahead of it.

MTA students


They all expressed happiness for Israel and longing for the return of the hostages. “Bring them home” chants were heard amid Omer Adam’s party hit “Tel Aviv” and Eyal Golan’s wartime song “Am Israel Chai.” The schools, organizations, and companies also carried American and Israeli flags alongside each other to show support for an alliance that stands at odds with international consensus. Backing for this alliance remains largely bipartisan, although in Congress there are a handful of outspoken leftists among the Democrats, and a couple of isolationists among Republicans.

MTA students


Following the recognition of Palestine by three European countries, and an international tribunal’s equating Israeli leaders with Hamas terrorists, I wanted my relatives in southern Israel to see that support runs strong on this side of the Atlantic. I called them using FaceTime so that they could see ambulances donated by Americans, and floats representing nonprofits supporting hospitals, schools, soldiers, security measures, and new olim soon to depart from New York.

MTA students


They saw CUNY students who organize Jewish events on their campuses, family members of hostages treated like family by tens of thousands around them, 24 new groups that marched for the first time, including nearly 30 organizations from Long Island! According to the NYPD, 100,000 people in total either watched or marched in the parade, setting the record for attendance.

North Shore students


Energized by the music and inspired by the guests from Israel, all participants returned to their homes with a renewed sense of purpose in Israel. Looking ahead, there will be fundraisers and letter-writing campaigns, rallies and solidarity missions, running up to the presidential and Congressional elections towards the end of the year. We participate in all of these endeavors to ensure the security of Israel, return of the hostages, and prevention of future wars.

North Shore students
North Shore students
The Baumser and Dubin families marched with the YCQ group
Veteran of Yom Kippur War with homemade poster
Yissy and Rachel Orenbuch joined their children at the YCQ contingent at the parade
Zaka float at parade


 By Sergey Kadinsky