Stepping out to celebrate Israel
The sights may have been a bit sodden, the sounds somewhat muffled by the splash of raindrops on the roadway, but the spirit was soaring as the 52nd annual Celebrate Israel Parade made its way up New York’s Fifth Avenue from 57th to 74th Street on June 5.
The theme of this year’s event — Sight, Sound & Spirit — was reflected in the 30 floats and the banners and placards carried by many of the 30,000 marchers, including representatives of more than 250 Jewish schools and organizations and representing virtually every spot on the political and religious spectrum.
The parade featured marching bands and popular performers, including the Maccabeats, Kosha Dillz, Milk and Honeys, Soulfarm, and cast members of the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof.
Officials marching up the avenue included New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni, and several Knesset members.
Central New Jersey was well-represented.
Sponsored by the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ, a group of over 100 participants from Middlesex and Monmouth counties marched behind a “Heart of NJ Cluster” banner.
“The cluster was formed to increase participation and encourage people within the local community to come together in support of Israel,” said Amy Keller, the federation’s director of community programs. “We are proud to demonstrate our support for our Jewish homeland.”
Members of Temple Beth Ahm in Aberdeen and Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick made up the largest contingents in the cluster.
Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison sent four buses with 130 students and 50 chaperones.
“This was the most magnificent, memorable parade ever,” said RPRY Judaic studies teacher Rachel Callen, who coordinated the group with Nitza Adler. “Our children got wet, but not one canceled or complained about marching.”
Rabbi Yossi Kanelsky of the Center for Jewish Life in Marlboro said by marching, his congregants expressed pride and unity. “There’s such a feeling of ruach and a sense of family,” he said. “As you go down the street everyone is waving and even though there are so many synagogues and groups you feel like it’s a big family reunion.”
“I’ve never seen such ahavas Yisrael,” Callen said. “We truly were united. I get chills when I think of those children singing and dancing the whole way — even though they were drenched.”
Hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the parade was sponsored by UJA-Federation of NY and the State of Israel.