Thousands of spectators and more than 35,000 marchers from some 200 schools, synagogues, organizations and community centers turned a seventeen-bock stretch of Fifth Avenue into a loud and colorful pro-Israel spectacle as New York City hosted its 50th annual Celebrate Israel Parade on Sunday.
The theme of this year’s parade was “50 Reasons to Celebrate Israel,” and an array of elected officials, including New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, were on hand to celebrate, as were several Israeli diplomats and members of Knesset.
“Israelis often feel isolated,” said MK Rabbi Dov Lipman, who served as a grand marshal. “Just seeing tens of thousands of people coming to our side, it was worth it to fly over the ocean.”
Amanda B., a homemaker from central New Jersey, waved an Israeli flag from her vantage point outside Trump Tower on East 56th Street and called out to marchers from her children’s day school.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” she told The Jewish Press. “It’s the one time and place where so many people can come together and tell the world that we support Israel.”
Baruch, a middle-aged Israeli in New York on business, said that in previous years he’d seen parts of the parade on TV in Israel, but viewing it in person gave him an entirely different perspective.
“To stand in the middle of Manhattan on a bright sunny day and witness all the marchers, bands and floats demonstrating how strongly American Jews feel about Israel – I can’t describe how emotional I’m feeling right now.”
A tourist from India who overheard Baruch’s remarks asked if he might add a comment. “There is a lot of admiration for Israel in India,” he said, “and our new prime minister, Narendra Modi, is a real friend of Israel. I see a golden age coming in relations between our countries.”