NEW YORK (May. 1)
In a tremendous display of Jewish unity and solidarity with Israel, tens of thousands of people lined a 30-block stretch of Fifth Avenue here today to view the some 75,000 marchers, 25 marching bands and several dozen elaborately decorated colorful floats participating in the 19th annual Salute to Israel Parade.
“Here in this city, and in this great nation of the world, thousands of miles from the small State of Israel, the strength of the bond amongst the Jewish people finds its full expression, “declared David Levy, Israel Deputy Prime Minister, who delivered his keynote address in Hebrew.
“What we are seeing here today is not only love and appreciation for Israel but also recognition of the place Israel holds as a spiritual center, a source of strength, and a source of national pride for all Jews,” he said. A translation of his remarks was provided to the media and read aloud to the many assembled near the reviewing stand.
Levy, who is also Minister of Housing, was among the many Israeli officials, local officials and Congressional members who reviewed today’s parade. The theme was “Yisrael Yaffa,” or “Beautiful Israel,” and as in the past, the parade was sponsored by the American Zionist Youth Foundation. More than 100 national and local Jewish organizations provided support for all aspects of the annual event.
The parade was led down Fifth Avenue by the Israel Defense Force marching band. They played the Hatikvah and Star Spangled Banner before the reviewing stand. It was the first time the IDF band, composed mainly of soldiers serving their mandatory service in the armed forces, participated in the event. The band was conducted by Lt. Col. Yitzhak Gratziani. He was born in Bulgaria and graduated from the Music Academy of Sofia. He emigrated to Israel in 1948 and has composed a wide range of musical works.
Mayor Edward Koch, noting that the IDF band performs well, said “they are also able to fight for their country superbly….” He read a proclamation asking all New Yorkers to reflect on the close relationship between Israel and the U.S. and proclaimed today “Salute to Israel Parade Day.” Governor Mario Cuomo, who was unable to attend, proclaimed today New York State “Salute to Israel Parade Day.”
MESSAGE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE
Michael Gale, President Reagan’s liaison to the Jewish community, read a message from the President and his wife, Nancy, declaring that the U.S. is “proud of its role” it played in the creation of the State of Israel 35 years ago and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the Jewish State.
Some of the placards carried by the marchers, focusing on the theme of this year’s parade, said: “Our beautiful heritage”; “There is no beauty like that of Jerusalem”; “Beautiful people make a beautiful Israel”; “Beautiful Flowers of Israel”; and “The spirit of Israel is beautiful.”
Many Jewish organizations and business firms sponsored elaborate floats, among them Bank Leumi, American Zionist Youth Foundation, Jewish National Fund, American Mizrachi Women, American Red Magen David in Israel, Bank Hapoalim of U.S. and the Board of Jewish Education.
Among the many marching bands was the Johnnycake Jr. High School marching band from Baltimore, Maryland; Allen High School band from Allentown, Pennsylvania; McKinley Technical Sr. High School marching band from Washington, D.C. One group of participants came from the Aguda Achim Synagogue of Columbus, Ohio.
Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, noted the presence of Levy and the IDF band and said that the Jewish people “are one people” whether in the “trenches of Lebanon or on Fifth Avenue.”