NYC’s Celebrate Israel Parade returns after two years with a push for wider community involvement

After a two-year COVID-imposed hiatus, New York’s Celebrate Israel Parade returns following a push by organizers to recruit marchers representing the “vast mosaic of the American Jewish community in the New York metropolitan area.”

In their messaging and an oped signed by five prominent rabbis from the three major denominations, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which has run the parade since 2011, is hoping for an event that reflects a wider swath of pro-Israel New Yorkers than in years past.

“We encourage people from all different movements, different political perspectives and different parts of the Jewish community to come together on this day and put aside divisions and say that we are united in support of Israel,” said Gideon Taylor, executive vice president and CEO of the New York JCRC.

The push is in part a response to criticism that an event that once represented a broad cross-section of New York’s synagogues, Jewish institutions and schools has, in more recent years, drawn delegations largely from Jewish day schools, most of them Orthodox, and professional pro-Israel groups.

Howard Pollack, the parade’s director, said the effort has paid off.

“There will be more than 200 groups marching this year, including groups that have never marched before and that are coming from all over the Jewish spectrum,” he said, adding that several Black churches in Brooklyn, along with some Jewish groups, will be marching for the first time.

“The parade will show the incredible beauty and diversity of the New York Jewish community,” Taylor said. “Jewish day schools, Holocaust survivors, Jewish war veterans and Jewish youth organizations are all coming together to say we are back and coming together as a community.”

Among the Jewish groups marching is Romemu, a Jewish progressive egalitarian community founded on the Upper West Side by Rabbi David Ingber in 2006.

“In light of what has been happening in Israel in the last couple of months, it is important for us to show solidarity with the people of Israel and to express our pride in being privileged to have a State of Israel,” Ingber said, referring to a string of deadly attacks in Israeli cities

Also marching will be members of New York Jewish Agenda, a progressive advocacy group founded in 2020.

Matt Nosanchuk, president of NYJA and a former resident of Washington, D.C., said it will be his first time marching in the parade. His organization will be displaying its banner and marching with a contingent from the Upper West Side.

Some 40,000 marchers are expected at the parade, which has been called the world’s largest expression of solidarity with the Jewish state outside of Israel and has been held since 1965. This year’s theme is “Together Again.”

The parade is usually held the first Sunday in June, but it was pushed back one week in order not to conflict with the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which begins this year on the evening of Saturday, June 4.

There will be 23 floats this year, 13 bands, three dance troupes, six trucks displaying billboards from such groups as #EndJewHatred, as well as a host of political leaders, including Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. There will also be a contingent from the Israeli government. The grand marshall is Harley Lippman, CEO of the outsourcing firm Genesis10 and a booster of the cooperation agreements between Israel and several of its Arab neighbors.  

The marchers will include Simha and Leah Goldin, whose son, Hadar, an Israeli soldier, was shot and dragged into a tunnel by Hamas gunmen during the 2014 Gaza War. They will be marching to draw attention to the fact that Hamas refuses to release his remains to Israel.

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