The editorial, “Israel Parade: Missing in Action” (May 28), accurately describes the composition of the participants in the Salute to Israel parade this year, focusing upon both the segment of our community that participated and those that didn’t.
Unfortunately, while it correctly notes that both the marchers and the spectators were predominantly from the Modern Orthodox community, its suggestion that this composition results from that segment of the community’s “becoming increasingly parochial and conservative politically” falls very wide off the mark.
I had the privilege during the 1980s to be the chairman of the American Zionist Youth Foundation that ran the parade in those years. Even then, long before the purported movement to the “right,” the participants were primarily from the Modern Orthodox community.
The reason is simple: within the Modern Orthodoxy community, the State of Israel at its fulcrum is integral to the very being of the Jew, from cradle to grave. Focusing upon the Israel parade in particular has become an integral part of day school education, having been integrated into its curriculum.
Of course, the much more critical issue facing us and appropriately focused upon in the editorial is the absence of the non-Orthodox at the parade. Recognizing — as Birthright Israel has done so well — the critical significance of Israel to the continuation of so many as part of the Jewish people, we have a wonderful tool in the parade with which to capture the hearts and minds of our youth, as they grow and mature. It is a real pity that such an opportunity may be missed.
American Zionist Youth Foundation (AZYF)