It did rain on Sunday’s 60th annual Celebrate Israel Day parade, but 30,000 attendees walked the 17-block route up Fifth Avenue anyway.
Hailing from day schools, synagogues and social groups, most participants wore T-shirts that referenced this year’s selected theme, “Israel Imagines.”
“I am here rain or shine at the parade… I love Israel, Israel is my second home” said Marissa Feiwus, a recent college graduate who said, “there were a lot of anti-Israel programs” at her alma mater, the University of Arizona.
Many said participating in this year’s parade felt particularly important given last summer’s war with Hamas, and the possible pending nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Iran.
“At first I didn’t really care about Israel,” admitted high school sophomore David Baturo, who performed independent research on the state and became upset with the public’s depiction of its people and actions. “I just feel like it’s important to show that… [Israel] is just as important as every other country that exists.”
However, others in attendance felt ill at ease, especially after Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent re-election and the formation of his right wing coalition.
“I think it’s good to celebrate our country and our people but the parade makes me uncomfortable,” said Yotam Tubul, a recent college graduate who resides in Brooklyn. “I don’t love the idea of allying ourselves and unquestionably celebrating a country that I’m not always proud to be affiliated with,” added Tubul, who is both a citizen of the U.S. and Israel.