Tens of thousands of Israel supporters gathered in Manhattan on Sunday for the 55th annual Celebrate Israel Parade – the largest celebration of Israel in the world.
Beginning on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street and making their way up to 75th Street, marchers embraced this year’s theme of “Only in Israel” from the 1970s Hebrew classic “Rak B’Yisrael.”
The parade, which began in 1965, has been organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of New York since 2011.
“Celebrate Israel brings the Jewish community together in support of Israel. From Center-Right to Center-Left, we set aside our differences and truly celebrate Israel as the democratic state that it is,” Michael Miller, CEO and executive director of JCRC, told The Jerusalem Post.
Around 40,000 participants took part in this year’s event, from organizations including Birthright Israel, UJA-Federation of New York, El Al, Maimonides Medial Center and many Jewish youth movements and schools. Thirty of the participating organizations designed a float with colorful banners and costumes. Six volunteers were appointed grand marshals of the parade.
“It was an immediate ‘yes’ for me to take part in a more official way this year as a grand marshal,” fashion blogger Elizabeth Savetsky, who has attended the parade for the last seven years, told the Post. “The best way to combat antisemitism is by showing pride. Supporting the magic of Israel is the best way to fight for it.”
Savetsky rode on the Birthright Israel float alongside her husband, who she met through Birthright, and their two young daughters.
“What I think about, really, is how my daughters are direct descendants of a Holocaust survivor. Their great-grandma came out of Auschwitz at 78 pounds. I think about the legacy they bring to life through her. I think about how we didn’t have the State of Israel during the Holocaust and of how proud she would be,” Savetsky said.
A delegation of UN ambassadors and diplomats from around the world took part in the parade, led by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. Among the marchers were New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, podcast host Siggy Flicker and Israeli Consul-General in New York Dani Dayan.
“New York is a city where we celebrate all of our identities. In this cosmopolitan city, we are reminded of our rich diversity through parades,” Dayan said. “As the Jewish community in New York gathers once again to celebrate our identity at the Celebrate Israel Parade, the unbreakable friendship between the United States and Israel cannot be denied.”