The theme of this year’s Celebrate Israel Parade may have been “Only in Israel,” but it was Anatevka on Fifth Avenue on Sunday afternoon. The cast of the Off Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish performed, as did a troupe of bottle dancers, lending an Old World air to a thoroughly modern event that also paid tribute to the Israel-based Space IL’s moon launch. “We touched the moon,” one placard read, a Sistine Chapel-like hand reaching for the surface.
Under a blue sky, a sea of blue (and white) filled Manhattan’s iconic avenue. Some 40,000 marchers, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a delegation of United Nations ambassadors, made their way up Fifth in the 55th installment of the parade. Throngs of people lined the parade route, cheering on marching groups from the Jewish Community Center of Starrett City to United Synagogue’s youth movement to a huge contingent of students from the Frisch School in Paramus, N.J., to the mock tallit-wearing Quaker City String Band.
“In the face of the growing wave of anti-Semitism, we are demonstrating strength and unity today,” Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said at the event.Birthright Israel employee Alexandra Cohen seemed to sum up the emotion of the crowd. Dressed nearly head to toe in blue and white, including an Israeli flag worn as a cape, she said, “I came out today to show my support for Israel — to share my love from my heart and soul for my homeland. Now, more than ever, Jews and our New York neighbors need to unite for Israel.” As she spoke, a white poodle with blue streamers tied to his leash scampered up the parade route, everyone doing his part for the Jewish state on a sunny Sunday in June.