Seventy-five years ago, on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion publicly proclaimed the independence of the state of Israel in the former British colony of Palestine — creating a homeland for people of the Jewish faith in the shadow of the Holocaust.
Through more than seven decades of internal and external conflict, war and peace, the state of Israel — which Ben-Gurion served as their first prime minister — stands strong as a beacon of hope and freedom for the world — something that will be celebrated at this year’s “Celebrate Israel Parade” in Midtown this Sunday, June 4.
This year’s parade theme — “Israel @75: Renewing the Hope” —is meant to inspire hope for lasting peace, health, and happiness and aims to bring the Jewish people closer together despite their political differences.
The annual parade, organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) and the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) of New York and Greater New Jersey, begins at 11 a.m. at 5th Avenue and 57th Street and will make its way up along the boulevard to 73rd Street where it will end at 4 pm.
The ‘Celebrate Israel Parade’ has existed since 1965 when thousands marched down Riverside Drive supporting the people of Israel. It has since evolved into “the world’s largest expression of solidarity with the Jewish state outside of Israel.”
After the JCRC-NY took over the parade in 2011, the organization changed its name to the ‘Celebrate Israel Parade,’ focusing on Israel’s diversity.
Each year, the march draws tens of thousands of onlookers from the greater New York area, home to the largest Jewish community outside of Israel. The marchers and parade watchers proudly display the blue and white Star of David flag demonstrating their pride and connection to their homeland.
According to the organizers, Sunday’s festivities will include over 250 groups with 40,000 marchers, 30-plus floats, marching bands, musical performers, elected officials, and community groups.
Harley Lippman, founder and CEO of Genesis10, the largest IT consulting firm in the United States, will serve as this year’s parade grand marshal. Lippman is a regular commentator on CNBC, MSNBC, and Fox Business News, among others. His philanthropy includes financial support for a Cambodian orphanage and funding projects which explore overlooked aspects of the Holocaust.
The Times of Israel reported that 18 Israeli ministers and lawmakers are also slated to march in the parade.
In a videotaped statement, Isaac Herzog, the 11th President of Israel, said the Celebrate Israel parade would be a “big day” for New York City, Israel, Jewish people worldwide, and their allies. He referenced the ongoing political strife in Israel involving their current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, while offering hope that the celebration of Israel’s independence would reflect more of what unites rather than what divides.
“In these moments when so much of our attention is on what divides us, the JCRC ‘Celebrate Israel Parade’ promises to be a powerful reminder of everything that holds us together as one proud people,” Herzog said, urging everyone to use the parade as an opportunity to bring everyone together. “Friends, our beauty and our strength lie in our many different stripes and shades and voices. So let us take this opportunity to bring them all together behind one banner; the banner of our love for our nation, for our Jewish legacy throughout the ages, and for Israel in the spirit of Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh La Zeh.”
Gideon Taylor, executive vice president and CEO of JCRC-NY, told amNewYork Metro that the parade was an opportunity for people from across the spectrum of the Jewish community to mark the nation’s latest milestone.
“In these very fractured times, it’s really important that we can gather even when we disagree about certain things,” Taylor said. “The parade is about coming together and bringing people together.”
While the march celebrates Israel’s unity and perseverance through 75 years, parade organizers are prohibiting supporters of the BDS movement (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) from participating, as the organizers believe that movement “seeks the delegitimization and destruction of the entire Jewish and democratic State of Israel.”
The parade will be televised on FOX My9, along with a live stream from the parade’s official website (celebrateisraelny.org), beginning at noon on June 4.