June 1, 2014…Photos and Article: Len Rapoport & Andy Peeke
“In 1965, thousands walked down Riverside Drive in support of the young State of Israel. This impromptu walk evolved into the Salute to Israel Parade on Fifth Avenue.
In 2011 the name of the Parade was changed to focus on celebrating the vibrant and diverse country of Israel. The Parade features over 30,000 marchers from many organizations. Hundreds of thousands enthusiastic spectators watch American and Israeli community leaders and dignitaries, entertainers, artists, musicians, dancers, celebrities, floats and marching bands.”
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Andy Peeke and I wanted to cover this parade, it was the 50th year of the parade and one that would bring New York’s Jewish Community together in one glorious parade. Unlike the Thanksgiving Day Parade or Holiday parades these cultural parades celebrate the people and heritage of those that participate in the parade.
The parade travels north on Fifth Avenue from 57th Street to 74th Street. We were stationed at 59th Street so we had a good vantage point. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the entire parade, we also had to cover the Philipinne Independence Day Parade held on the same day.
The Israel Day Parade this year was “50 Reasons To Celebrate Israel”. The organizers of this years parade wanted its participants to celebrate Israel’s achievements in agriculture, ancient landscapes, education, environmental protection, food, high-tech innovations, humanitarian work, inventions, research, science, sports, Torah scholarship, and more.
Marchers came from the New York metropolitan area as well as from other parts of the country. They represented Jewish day schools, Synagogues, Youth Groups, Hillels and other organizations including the Chai Riders Motorcycle Club.
Parade day festivities also included a concert in Central Park where kosher food is offered by local vendors.
In all the cultural parades we have covered and there have been many, we have never seen as many people marching in the parade or as many spectators. It was truly a wonderful day for me as it brought back many memories as a young Hebrew school student learning about the history of our people and of Israel.
Of course I had to explain it all to Andy, who is not Jewish, but told me he has dated a number of Jewish girls. I told him I would have to invite him to our next Passover Seder to give him some of the history of our people.