New York – A Mile Of Israeli Pride As Celebrate Israel Parade Hits Manhattan


    People take part in the 51st annual Israel parade in Manhattan, New York May 31, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz New York – Fifth Avenue’s usual cars, busses and taxis were replaced by balloons, floats and Israeli flags as thousands of students, war veterans, boy scouts, marching bands, elected officials and dignitaries joined a sea of spectators to honor Israel today at the 51st annual Celebrate Israel Parade.

    Among those in attendance today to show support for Israel were Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Israeli Minister Ofir Akunis, several members of the Knesset and Governor Andrew Cuomo. Mayor Bill de Blasio, waving to the crowds, marched down Fifth Avenue next MK Dov Lipman who sang Am Yisroel Chai on a bullhorn.

    Lipman was one of many who traveled from afar to attend today’s parade.

    “When you serve in the Knesset you spend so much of your time dealing with negativity about Isreal and attacks on Israel everywhere you go,” Lipman told VIN News. “To come here and have tens of thousands of people gives you a feeling of tremendous support and it gives you a feeling of chizuk to continue going on.”
    NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and MK Dov Lipman at celebrate Israel parade 2015, midtown Manhattan / UES New York NY. (photo by Stefano Giovannini/
    Despite calls for showers throughout the day, the weather remained picture perfect through most of the day with just a few moments of rain, described by one cheerful onlooker as “liquid sunshine.”

    “The sun came up because G-d is with Israel,” said public advocate Letitia James who noted that her recent trip to Israel affected her very deeply.

    “It was a spiritual experience but more important than that, it opened up my eyes, particularly when I spoke to the children, the children who are afraid to go to sleep at night because they are afraid of rockets,” said James. “As a result of that, this African American stands with Israel. Every day, we should protect them and do all that we can, because Israel is our ally and we should stand with them as citizens of the United States. I stand today and march proudly in support of Israel.”
    Public public advocate Letitia James at celebrate Israel parade 2015, midtown Manhattan / UES New York NY. (photo by Stefano Giovannini/
    For Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the Celebrate Israel Parade is a can’t-miss event.

    “We have to show support for Israel, our ally and a morally worthwhile country,” said Nadler. “There is so much chaos in the Middle East, so little respect for human rights and so little respect for peoples’ dignity except for Israel.”

    New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli chose to walk not with other elected officials, but with the students of the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway.

    “HAFTR is a great school and a neighboring school to my community,” noted DiNapoli. “I always enjoy marching with the young people because they have such a great spirit and this is their future and that is what this is about: having our young people engaged and how important it is to show support for Israel at this very tough time.”

    DiNapoli said that he hopes that the presence of elected officials will inspire young yeshiva students to become actively involved in their communities.

    “We need more good people who will get into government and politics the right way and when you see a school life HAFTR, which is not just about academics but also has a strong sense of moral commitment, knowing what is right and wrong. It would be great if there would be some future comptrollers or members of congress coming out of this school.”
    New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (Sandy Eller/
    Having marched in the parade for more than two decades, Congressman Elliot Engel made sure to be on Fifth Avenue this morning.

    “I flew home from the West Coast late last night,” said Engel. “I get such a sense of pride and feeling a part of something that is so great. Here we are and our generation sees a Jewish state thriving. Previous generations didn’t have that and I feel so privileged to be part of this.”

    “It’s a great day for New York,” added Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “It is amazing the thousands of people who are out here from every community and we love celebrating together for the pride of Israel.”

    A sizable contingent from the City Council turned out for today’s parade.

    “This is an incredible way of affirming Israel and being able to be here with my colleagues to continue to celebrate the contributions and affirm the right of Israel to exist is important as well,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I’m really happy to be here and see our other elected officials as well and am very excited to be able to march.”

    “We are all here from every level of government and it just shows how much support there is for Israel,” added Councilman Rory Lancman. “It is a shame that sometimes the media doesn’t represent that reality but that is the reality and I’m glad to be a part of it today.”
    Queens Borough President Melinda Katz at celebrate Israel parade 2015, midtown Manhattan / UES New York NY. (photo by Stefano Giovannini/
    Councilman David Greenfield noted the diversity among both the spectators and those who marched in the parade.

    “I think it’s a very important message that New York’s elected officials across the spectrum, whether they are Republican or Democrat or Liberal or Conservative are supporting Israel,” said Greenfield. “I think support for Israel cuts across the board no matter which community you are in and we are very proud to support Israel and have a very close relationship with Eretz Yisroel.”

    Blue was the color of the day for Councilman Brad Lander who wore a blue and white stiped shirt in a nod to the Israeli flag. Lander noted that the grey skies predicted for the day were nowhere in sight during the early part of the parade.

    “Right now it is beautiful,” said Lander. “The sky is blue like the Israeli flag and we are going to hope it stays that way for as long as it can.”

    “It is a beautiful day,” added Councilman Stephen Levin. “Seeing people of all communities out here today celebrating Israel and showing their pride is a really beautiful thing.”
    Councilman David Greenfield at celebrate Israel parade 2015, midtown Manhattan / UES New York NY. (photo by Stefano Giovannini/
    Arranging logistics for a parade of this magnitude is no small task, according to David Pollock, associate director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, one of the parade’s sponsors.

    “The parade is coordinated by the counter terrorism intelligence units of the NYPD,” said Pollock. “They take this very seriously. This parade is the standard that they use to protect every other parade and marathon in New York. If they can protect us, they can protect everyone.”

    Pollock noted that planning for the 2016 Celebrate Israel Parade will begin this week and that the parade gets bigger with each passing year.

    “We are the only parade where there are more marchers than spectators, because everyone wants to be a part of this and celebrate Israel,” observed Pollock.

    19 year old Ella Dahan of Long Beach was wrapped in an Israeli flag, with a large blue and white Israeli flag bow in her hair and blue stripes on her face. An alumnus of HAFTR, Dahan marched with Garin Tzabar, an Israeli Defense Force immigrant program.

    “It is the Lone Soldiers Program, for people in America who want to go the IDF,” said Dahan. “I’m going to serve in the IDF and then come back and go to school and become a psychologist.”

    While many of those who marched in today’s parade were from synagogues and Jewish schools, there were many non-Jews who were proud to show their support for Israel.

    “I’m here every year,” said Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, accompanied by his eleven year old son, Anthony. “I have my gentile son here so that he understands what Israel is all about and how important Israel is for the gentile community.”

    That strong emotional connection transforms Israel from a foreign country into something entirely different for Sliwa.

    “Israel is the 51st state and part of the United States,” said Sliwa.

    Marchers in the Parade faced some dissonant spectators members of Neturai Karta who believe Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of their messiah.

    Standing near them at Sunday’s celebration were other Orthodox men heckling gay marchers while hoisting signs that read: “Judaism considers male homosexuality a sin worse than murder.”
    celebrate Israel parade 2015, midtown Manhattan / UES New York NY. photo by stefano giovannini

    Full video replay of the parade here:

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