NY Israel Day Parade returns after three year hiatus

The parade theme “Together Again,” is a response to the rise of antisemitism in New York and the terrorist attacks on Jews in Israel.

 New York Israel Day Parade, 2019 (photo credit: JCRC)
New York Israel Day Parade, 2019
(photo credit: JCRC)

The annual Celebrate Israel Parade will return to the streets of New York City on Sunday, May 22, along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

The parade theme of “Together Again” is a response to the rise of antisemitism in New York and terrorist attacks in Israel. In 2020 and 2021, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade was run on a virtual platform. Now it’s back, stronger than ever, according to organizers at the New York Jewish Community Council.

Tens of thousands of Israel-lovers are expected to participate, along with a number of senior Israeli officials including Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue & White), Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai (Labor), Aliyah and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, MK Ofir Akunis (Likud), Gilad Kariv (Labor), Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan (Likud), Consul General of Israel in New York Israel Nitzan and World Zionist Organization chairman Yaakov Hagoel, among others.

American dignitaries at the parade will include New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Rep. Gerald Nadler (D-New York), and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-New York), as well as rabbis and celebrities, including singer-songwriter Eliad Nachum, and rappers Kosha Dillz and Nissim Black.

Jewish Community Council CEO Gideon Taylor told The Jerusalem Post, “For the first time in three years, we’ll be marching on the streets of New York.”

 New York Israel Day Parade, 2019 (credit: JCRC) New York Israel Day Parade, 2019 (credit: JCRC)

Taylor added, “There is a huge demand for people, mainly Diaspora Jews, to reconnect with Israel after being disconnected because of COVID-19. It might sound a bit cliché, but ‘Together Again’ is about bringing all parts of the Jewish community together physically for Israel after more than two years.

“We’ve done outreach to different denominations, and even though the Jewish world is divided, we see many things differently,” he said. “We see Israel differently. We see the Jewish world differently, but we can still come together for one day to say ‘Celebrate Israel.’

“Even though we are able to connect to Israel through social media, we’ve been hearing from people of all ages that feet on the ground, physically is what everyone wants and needs at the moment,” he said.

“It’s been hard, and in some ways, we’ve lost the streets. We’ve lost that physical connection around Israel. I think it’s incredibly important, not only against the backdrop of COVID-19 and being apart, but also it’s against the backdrop of Colleyville, about a rise in antisemitic hate crimes in New York. That makes it even more important that we come together and show that we’re not afraid that we’re proud to march up Fifth Avenue. And there is nothing in New York as iconic as Fifth Avenue.”

The Celebrate Israel Parade (originally Youth Salute to Israel Parade, and later Salute to Israel Parade) is an annual event in support of Israel that’s been taking place on Fifth Avenue in New York since 1964. The parade marches north on Fifth Avenue from 57th Street to 74th Street. According to organizers, it is the largest global gathering in support of Israel.

The organizers of the parade noted that there aren’t just Jews who will be marching in the parade, but also, for the first time, members of churches from Brooklyn who will participate as a group with their own separate float.

“They’re coming directly from services on Sunday,” Taylor said.