Fifth Avenue Turns Blue and White for Israel Parade
On May 22, Fifth Avenue sparkled in blue and white for the Celebrate Israel Parade, the world’s largest demonstration of support for the Jewish state. The event was produced by UJA-Federation of New York, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of New York and the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
This year’s parade featured the theme “Together Again — Kulanu B’Yachad” (in Hebrew: we’re all together) celebrating the parade’s return following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
“We are delighted to be able to come together once again in what is the largest public demonstration of support for Israel in the world. Particularly now – with rising antisemitism and anti-Zionism in our backyard, and an alarming recent increase in terror attacks in Israel – it is more important than ever to show our proud and public support for the state of Israel,” said Eric S. Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York.
The Celebrate Israel Parade drew thousands of people that cheered marchers, bands and floats proceeding up Fifth Avenue from 57th to 74th streets.
New York dignitaries included Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, NYS Attorney General Letitia James, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Rep. A. Espaillat (D-NY) and Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY).
Israeli dignitaries included Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, Aliyah and Minister of Immigrant Absorption Affairs Pnina Tamano-Shata, Knesset members Ofir Akunis, Gilad Kariv and Gila Gamliel, United Nations Ambassador Gilad Erdan and Consul General Asaf Zamir.
With 60 of the top names in the American religious Zionist community in tow, the Orthodox Israel Coalition (OIC) debuted its first-ever unified float on Fifth Avenue for the Parade.
The OIC is a broad-based group of the ten major modern-Orthodox organizations in the United States that transformed the landscape of the ‘Parliament of the Jewish People’ after placing second in the 2020 World Zionist Congress elections. For the first time in history, delegates representing the Orthodox community would make up more than a third of the overall congress, and their historic victory uniquely positioned the group to advance religious Zionism through Israel’s national institutions. The group includes the Religious Zionists of America-Mizrachi (RZA), AMIT, the Orthodox Union (OU), Yeshiva University (YU), Touro College, Bnei Akiva, Torah MiTzion, National Council of Young Israel (NCYI), Rabbinical Council of America and Russian American Jewish Experience (RAJE).
“For the first time in our 120-year history, the North American religious Zionist organizations are operating as one collective voice, allowing us to create the roadmap that will guide the next generation of Jewish leaders,” said RZA Executive Vice President Rabbi Ari Rockoff. “Our unified representation here today in celebration of Eretz Yisrael highlights the bright future that exists for the American religious Zionist movement.”
Notable representatives across OIC organizations on the float included Rav Doron Perez, CEO of World Mizrachi; Roi Abecassis, World Mizrachi’s head of spiritual services; Ohad Tal, World Bnei Akiva’s secretary general; Rabbi Ari Rockoff, executive vice president of the RZA; Dr. Moshe Socol, dean of Touro University; Chanah Shields, AMIT board member; Harvey Blitz, chairman of World Mizrachi; Rabbi David Warshaw, president of NCYI; Rabbi Josh Joseph, executive vice president of the OU; Rabbi Yosef Blau, Mashgiach of YU and RIETS as well as president emeritus of the RZA and Rabbi Aryeh Katzin, executive director of RAJE.