“Am Yisrael chai” is an oft-used slogan, but it was quite befitting for the 58th annual JCRC-NY Celebrate Israel Parade held this past Sunday along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, as group after group chanted its familiar tune. 

It was a thrilling, exuberant display of our love for Israel and our love for our own Jewish community. For decades, hundreds of thousands of Jews from across the world and their supporters have joined together to march in the Celebrate Israel Parade, showing their support for the Holy Land. This year, I joined over 40,000 marchers as a symbol of standing up to the hatred we have encountered all too many times this past year. At least 100,000 spectators lined the parade route, and according to Gideon Taylor, CEO of JCRC, over 1000 first-time marchers participated this season as an apropos finale to the Jewish Heritage month festivities.

The 2023 Celebrate Israel Parade was a radiant expression of connection. This year’s parade brought together elected officials from across the city and state, including our Mayor, Governor, Attorney General, NYS Comptroller, Members of Congress, State Legislature, Assembly, our NYC Council led by Speaker Adrienne Adams, and notably Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. Additionally, Borough Presidents and District Attorneys joined while for the first time ever, local teens were matched with elected officials to get a sense of political life as they marched in unity. Special shout out to Shlomo Golombeck, who deejayed for Governor Hochul, and to Jake Adler, the governor’s Director of Jewish Affairs, who arranged for a wide array of electeds to stand alongside the Hochul, and Eva Wyner, Deputy Director of Jewish Affairs for the governor, who announced each elected more than once, including our leading Congress Member Greg Meeks, and my friend Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal.

The parade hosted an array of local schools from Queens, the Five Towns, and every borough and county in between, including an impressive display by YCQ and Yeshiva University. There were jugglers and dancers showing their skills, and at least two Bukharian marching bands playing a medley from Fiddler on the Roof! I was moved by the raps of Rami Even-Esh Kosha Dillz aka Ram Matan, who was the star of Elan Kornblum’s Greatest Kosher Restaurants float. The program featured Grand Marshal Harley Lippman, Noa Tishby, Lizzy Savetsky, Matisyahu, the Maccabeats, JCRC houseband Soulfarm, and more. “It was a joyous and beautiful celebration of the deep and abiding connection between American Jews and Israel,” concluded Taylor.

The JCRC thanks UJA Federation New York, and parade sponsors Israel Bonds and KKL-JNF for their philanthropy. On a personal note, I extend appreciation to our co-publisher Yaakov Serle and Simon Sebag, Jewish liaison to Public Advocate Jumanne Williams, for ensuring I had a blast!

Article & Photos by Shabsie Saphirstein