New York City's annual Israeli Day Parade kicked off Sunday. Also known as the Salute to Israel Parade, the event is held each summer to celebrate the creation of the state of Israel.
David Mallach, the Managing Director of the Commission on Jewish People at UJA-Federation of New York - a supporter of the parade - believes it to be the biggest pro- Israel event in the world.
“The parade first started in 1964. During the 80’s and the 90’s the parade faced a decline in its attendance and popularity. Only when the second Intifada started in 2000 did more Jews from around New York begin to go out to the parade and show their support for Israel," he explained.
"In a sense, Yasser Araft himself revived the Israeli parade and turned it into what we know today,” Mallach said, stressing the importance of recognizing that the biggest event in New York for the Jewish community is one that focuses on Israel.
A diverse range of people spanning all ages participate in the event, including celebrities and politicians.
The beginning of the parade is traditionally marked by the blowing of shofarot (rams horns). About a million spectators gather each year to watch some 100,000 participants paint the city blue and white with colorful floats and marching bands. According to parade organizers, it is the only Jewish event in New York that draws Jews from all religious sectors.