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Why we march
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Why we march

Each and every year since the 1960s there has been a Salute to Israel Parade in New York City. This year it was called Celebrate Israel with a musical theme.

I remember attending one of the first ones held then on the Upper West Side. We lived in Rego Park, Queens and I came with my young two- or three-year-old son to watch the parade. After awhile I put him on my shoulders and we joined in with the marchers. The annual parade is now on Fifth Avenue and has become a staple like all the other ethnic parades with one exception: While we have thousands of marchers like the others, we have comparatively few onlookers on the sidewalks.

Except for a few pockets of people here and there, the sidewalks are embarrassingly empty. I and members of my family have either marched or viewed every parade each and every year. How many can say that?

The date, although announced many months in advance, seems to come up as a surprise, somewhat akin to Shavuot, the almost forgotten festival. Jewish organizations continually hold important events on the same day.

Can you imagine if the sidewalks on both sides of Fifth Avenue from 55th to 74th Streets were crammed with Jews applauding the thousands of marchers as the Irish do, as the Italians do, the Puerto Ricans, etc., etc.? Even The New York Times might pay attention. The White House might sit up and take notice. And most important of all, Israelis would most certainly get a lift from knowing that multitudes of fellow Jews so publicly support them. What a dream. When? Maybe next year.

Karl Kaplan
East Brunswick

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