It’s only five hours long and less than 2 miles in distance, but New York City’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade sends a message that transcends borders. The message of the parade, which began as a brief, impromptu march of American Zionist youth down Riverside Drive in 1965, is that the often-divided members of the Jewish community can come together for their support of the Jewish State. And that point is more important than ever in these toxic times.
This year’s parade, along Fifth Avenue this Sunday, June 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (rain or shine), will feature more than 30 floats, 15 marching bands, 40,000 marchers, and many thousands of spectators cheering and singing along. There will be Israeli musical artists, rollerbladers, motorcyclists, dance groups and juggling clowns.
Celebrities on the “Israeli float” will include Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan and rapper Young Gravy. The 19-year-old star, who has Native American heritage, declared that he is taking part in the event because “Zionism is another way of reconnecting an indigenous people to their land who were erased by expulsion and genocide and imperialism.”
The parade (celebrateisraelny.org), formerly known as the Salute to Israel Parade, came under the auspices of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York in 2011, growing into one of the largest and most visible signs of support for Israel in the world. It is produced in cooperation with UJA-Federation of New York and Israel’s Consulate General.
Ukrainian-born real estate developer and attorney Edward Mermelstein, who is serving as grand marshal of the parade, said, “As an immigrant New Yorker and a proud Jew, walking up Fifth Avenue as the grand marshal of the Celebrate Israel Parade is the pinnacle of the American dream.”
For the ninth year in a row, the parade will be televised live on WWOR-TV (FOX MY9) from noon to 3 p.m. and streamed on Facebook Live (facebook.com/CelebrateIsraelParade).
For one afternoon, Jewish New Yorkers can celebrate together, without religious or political labels.
This year’s theme is “Only in Israel.” And only in New York City, the biggest Jewish community outside of Israel, can so many lovers of Israel, both Jews and non-Jews, come together to celebrate a 71-year-old miracle.