Salute to Israel Parade Expresses Unity rss
About 30,000 people marched on May 23rd in Manhattan’s Salute to Israel Parade, sponsored in part by UJA-Federation of New York, and tens of thousands more gathered to cheer the marchers on.
“The parade is the largest gathering of the Jewish community in New York, and it truly represents all segments of New York Jewry,” said David Mallach, managing director of UJA-Federation’s Commission on the Jewish People (COJP).
“The parade brings us together in expressing our unity with Israel,” noted COJP chair Evelyn Kenvin. “Whether marching or waving a flag from the sidewalk, we are actualizing Herzl’s vision that if you will it, it is no dream.”
The parade is a project of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, a beneficiary agency of UJA-Federation.
“Lights . . . Camera . . . Action . . . Israel!” was the theme of the parade, reflected in the banners and T-shirts of the marching groups.
Some of those participating in the parade were part of a pilot initiative of BJENY-SAJES that is helping members of Long Island synagogues learn more about Israel, develop a deeper connection with the country, and encourage participation in the Salute to Israel Parade. BJENY-SAJES is a UJA-Federation beneficiary agency.
“Through the IConnect initiative and curriculum, we’re helping participants not see in just black and white,” said Rabbi Tracy Kaplowitz, BJENY-SAJES Israel engagement project manager. “It’s possible to go to the parade and still have questions and doubts about Israel. We open the dialogue to show we can [support] and wrestle with Israel, the politics, and policies.”
“The IConnect program refocused us on discussions about Israel and reinvigorated members to participate in the parade this year,” said Florence Roffman, a member of Temple Beth El of Huntington.
She noted that through IConnect, her congregation saw a movie about Ethiopians who immigrated to Israel, explored Israel’s identification with being Jewish and modern, and discussed who’s allowed to define what being Jewish is. In addition, the group grappled with the most effective way to ensure children have a relationship with Israel, Rothman said.
She also noted that her congregation had participated in the Social Media Boot Camp, a project of SYNERGY: UJA-Federation of New York and Synagogues Together, that helped synagogues develop social media skills. The IConnect initiative, she added, was designed to build on the skills introduced in the boot camp.
The parade included many enthusiasms. “The Jewish Russian-speaking community comes out to support the parade with one thing on their mind: Israel needs us now more than ever,” said Lily Wajnberg, director of the Russian Division for UJA-Federation, which designed the organization’s float and organized its parade participation.