It’s only fitting that Ted Comet, the veteran Jewish professional who turned 90 this week, will be a marshall at the Celebrate Israel parade this Sunday. He is credited with founding the event, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. And he can attest to the fact that it has always had its share of controversy; this year it has been over the participation of three left-wing Jewish groups.
Much has been made of the controversy in recent weeks over which groups should and should not be participating in the 50th annual Celebrate Israel parade. It is set for Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine, up Fifth Avenue, from 57th Street to 74th Street.
What if I told you that one of the biggest events of the year for the State of Israel takes place not in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv but right here in New York City? And that despite being thousands of miles away, every Israeli feels an immense sense of pride knowing that hundreds of thousands of people demonstrate their support of Israel each and every year when it takes place. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m talking about the Celebrate Israel parade, which marks its golden jubilee on June 1.
The annual Celebrate Israel parade, the largest of its kind anywhere, is intended to unify our community under the umbrella of pride in the Jewish state and send that message to Israel and the world. But life is not simple, certainly not Jewish life, and the fissures that create tensions within our community over Israel have come to the surface once again in the weeks leading up to parade, which this year will mark its 50th anniversary and be held in midtown on Sunday, June 1. (See story on page 16.)
The American Jewish community overwhelmingly supports Israel and strongly opposes efforts to demonize and delegitimize the nation-state of the Jewish people by singling it out for boycotts, divestment or sanctions (BDS). Although there are divisions within the Jewish community about Israeli policies — particularly with regard to the peace process and settlements — once a year we try to put aside these differences by marching together in the Celebrate Israel parade, marking its 50th anniversary this June and expected to attract over 40,000 marchers, representing over 200 schools, synagogues and organizations.
Time to consider new ways to attract more people to Israel’s cause.
Editor and Publisher
To be clear: I have been a big booster of the Celebrate Israel parade, personally and professionally, for many years, and once again felt a real sense of pride on Sunday afternoon watching the waves of youngsters carrying banners and singing Hebrew songs as they marched up Fifth Avenue.
Despite Iran worries, the outlook — and weather — was mostly upbeat among the 35,000 marchers.
The Celebrate Israel Parade that saw more than 35,000 marchers sing, dance and strut their way up Fifth Avenue amid colorful floats, Israeli flags and lively music took place last Sunday with such precision that it actually ended 30 minutes early.
Each year the New York Jewish community takes pride in hosting the largest gathering of support for Israel in the world. But it would be even better if more of us came out to show our connection to, love for and solidarity with the Jewish state by taking part in the annual celebration.