The week following Pesach has been one of optimism: As fewer sirens are heard on the streets and the number of infected individuals has diminished, the return to normal life is expected to unroll gradually. At the least with the city’s public schools closed through the end of June, other public venues such as libraries and museums are also not expected to reopen in the first month of the summer.
This past Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that all parades for that month are cancelled to keep people from violating social distancing guidelines. “They will be back, and we will find the right way to do it,” he said. “That joy and that pride that all of these events bring will be back.”
The nation’s largest pro-Israel gathering involves months of preparations by schools, synagogues, and nonprofit organizations. The elaborate floats and banners are among the highlights of the year for Queens institutions including Yeshiva of Central Queens, Yeshiva Har Torah, and the YU High School for Girls. With online learning underway, the students will celebrate Israel in their homes.
In the midst of the pandemic there are certain news items that Israel supporters can take to heart. In Great Britain, the Labour Party recently elected former prosecutor Keir Starmer as its leader, succeeding outspoken anti-Israel firebrand Jeremy Corbin. While his predecessor played down allegations of anti-Semitism within his party, Starmer described himself as a Zionist. His wife is Jewish and active on the communal scene.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis received a personal phone call from Starmer on Yom HaShoah apologizing for his party’s past dismissals of anti-Semitism allegations and a promise to investigate such charges independently. “I welcomed hearing directly of his commitment to take the necessary action to root out anti-Semitism from the Labour Party as a top priority,” Rabbi Mirvis tweeted. “It is heartening that the task of rebuilding the Jewish community’s trust in the Labour Party has begun.”
In this country, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders suspended his Democratic Primary campaign in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden. Although a critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden is a moderate in comparison to Sanders, who included outspoken BDS activists on his campaign.
In Israel, the deadlock of the past three elections within a year was resolved with Blue and White faction leader Benny Gantz joining incumbent Netanyahu in a power-sharing deal. Concerning the pandemic, the low death toll in Israel, strict social distancing guidelines, and medical research on the coronavirus are monitored by other countries as examples of how to effectively combat the spread of this plague.
It is too soon to tell if the cure for COVID-19 will come from Zion, but if it does, the next Celebrate Israel Parade will be a celebration not only for supporters of the Jewish state, but for the entire world.
By Sergey Kadinsky