Each year the New York Jewish community takes pride in hosting the largest gathering of support for Israel in the world. But it would be even better if more of us came out to show our connection to, love for and solidarity with the Jewish state by taking part in the annual celebration.
We will all have that opportunity on Sunday when this year’s Celebrate Israel Parade kicks off at 11 a.m., marching up Fifth Avenue from 57th Street to 74th Street, rain or shine. Expected to be the largest ever, this year’s parade will include 29 floats with musical performers, 18 marching bands and 35,000 marchers. It will be televised live on WWOR-TV (Channel 9) from noon to 2 p.m. and streamed online at CelebrateIsraelNY.org.
The parade, made possible by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York’s Celebrate Israel Project, has chosen “Israel Branches Out” as its theme this year, and its organizers have attracted more than 200 participating groups.
It’s that one day a year to put aside political, religious and ideological differences within the community and recognize the positive impact Israel has on the world in general, and world Jewry in particular. Easier said than done for those whose passions about the Jewish state lead them to different points of view. But it is important for each of us to put the greater good ahead of our own individual preferences, at least on parade day.
The staff and lay leaders of the JCRC deserve credit for the often thankless job of ensuring the survival, sustainability and growth of the parade — a year-round job that includes fending off critics from the right and left who weigh in on who they feel should and should not be marching.
It is to everyone’s credit when those differences are kept from overshadowing the primary purpose of the Celebrate Israel Parade, which highlights the special relationship between the United States and Israel, with their common roots of democracy and freedom.
Representatives of the Israeli government will be on hand from Jerusalem, sure to be joined by local dignitaries. Prior to the parade, more than 5,300 participants are registered to run a four-mile course in Central Park, starting at 8 a.m. That will be followed by a post-run festival at the Central Park Bandshell, with live Israeli music, food and prizes.
In all, a day of pride and appreciation, a day for enthusiasm and thanksgiving. We look forward to seeing you there.