The most visible way to demonstrate support for Israel is by showing up. This Sunday, the Celebrate Israel Parade along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue will honor the 75th anniversary of Israel’s restored independence with “Renewing the Hope” as this year’s theme.
With each year, there are stories written lamenting how this parade is not what it used to be. There are fewer participants and spectators, the interdenominational unity is a memory of better days. If Knesset Members Simcha Rothman and Amichai Chikli will march, expect some Reform Jews to stay home in protest of his proposed overhaul of Israel’s Supreme Court. Conversely, there is still resentment among some Orthodox participants over the parade’s inclusion of LGBT groups.
For many Modern Orthodox day schools, participation in the parade is a school event, but it should not feel like an assignment. Why wait until the fourth grade to march under a school’s banner? My children have been participating before they learned how to walk. Before we joined our respective school, I introduced them to the elected officials, foreign dignitaries, other yeshivos, denominations, and organizations, to underscore the sense of unity in our support for Israel.
This concept is exemplified this year with a joint statement by Knesset Members Shalom Danino of Likud and Vladimir Beliak of Yesh Atid, who are on the opposite sides of Israel’s political scene. They will be marching together.
“To show the world that we are one people and that a strong connection between Israel and the global Jewish people matters deeply,” they said in a statement. “Israel’s connection with the Jewish community in New York is an asset that we all need to protect, nurture, and strengthen.”
At the same time, there is also the example of individuals making a difference in the choice of the honorees. This year’s grand marshal is Harley Lippmann, the founder and CEO of the tech consulting firm Genesis10. In his diplomatic roles, he was appointed by President George W. Bush as a member of the US Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, and he has been reappointed by each of his successors. This commission is responsible for identifying cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings in Eastern and Central Europe that hold meaning to millions of Americans with ancestry in those places.
Under presidents Trump and Biden, he was tasked with continuing to build on the momentum of the Abraham Accords to improve relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the Palestinians, and other Arab countries.
In the 75 years since the revival of Israeli sovereignty, and 58 years since the first “Israel Day Parade” in Manhattan, our diaspora community has become an extension of Israel – politically, culturally, and spiritually. At the same time, Jews in America are very divided in partisan and denominational aspects.
More than 40,000 marchers, floats, marching bands, and musical performers are expected to march from East 57th Street to East 74th Street, with the parade being carried live on FOX My9 and CelebrateIsraelNY.org, beginning at noon.
The parade is sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY), www.CelebrateIsraelNY.org, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, and the United Jewish Appeal (UJA-Federation of New York and Greater New Jersey).
By Sergey Kadinsky