Marchers took to the streets of New York June 5th, on a perfect Sunday for marching, filling Fifth Avenue with color and cacophony. On a street festooned with the Stars and Stripes and the blue and white Israeli flag, 160 marching groups, including 15 prize winning marching bands, city and state political dignitaries, celebrities, 27 creative floats carrying top Israeli and American entertainers, joined the annual statement of the strong bond between supporters of Israel in America and the Jewish State lasting a little over five hours.
The Sunday calendar began with the Celebrate Israel Run in Central Park. The inaugural 4-mile race in Central Park was a joint project of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and New York Road Runners. Over 5000 runners of all ages, sizes and shapes gathered at the East Drive start line. The winning male runner finished the course in just over 19 minutes; the winning female runner came in at just over 24 minutes.
Following the race, thousands gathered at the Band Shell for the awards ceremony and a festive “after party” complete with live Israeli music and food. One runner will have the opportunity to celebrate Israel not only in Central Park but in the hills of the Holy Land: New Jersey’s Jennifer Levine was the lucky winner of two round-trip tickets to Israel, courtesy of EL AL Israel Airlines.
Fun and festivity filled an ordinarily quiet Fifth Avenue last Sunday afternoon for the 47th annual Celebrate Israel Parade. The vibrant, highly visible statement of the American Jewish community’s support of the State of Israel, expressed through music and song. Israel’s Consul General in New York, Ido Aharoni said the event was an important expression of the bond between the Jewish community in America and the State of Israel. The diplomat called the show of support “heart warming.”
Joseph Sitt, Chairman of Thor Equities, served as Grand Marshall of the 2011 Parade. Honored for “his lifelong commitment to the State of Israel and Jewish causes throughout New York” Mr. Sitt and his family greeted an enthusiastic crowd lining the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue. Sitt, his wife, and their children joined thousands of supporters of Israel, at one point joyously dancing in the streets. The noted philanthropist is Chairman of the Sephardic Heritage Museum.
A dynamic contingent represented the State of Israel. Led by ‘Yuli’ Yoel Edelstein, Israel’s minister of Information and Diaspora and a parade Grand Marshal, Consul General Ido Aharoni and MK Danny Danon led the group in this year’s march. Edelstein declared Israel always ready to negotiate but decried the Palestinian “unilateral approach.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Frank Lautenberg,
Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silverman led the initial legislative contingent. Governor Andrew Cuomo marched the Fifth Avenue route with Representative Carolyn Maloney. Representatives Charles Rangel and Elliot Engel were warmly greeted by the Fifth Avenue spectators. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and City Councilman Denny Farrel also celebrated Israel along Fifth Avenue. Notably missing from the picture perfect Celebrate Israel Parade. was embattled Congressman Anthony Weiner, known to be an ardent supporter of Israel
Additional millions enjoyed the Parade via live broadcast on WWOR My 9 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., with “Shalom Sesame’s” Grover appearing as guest commentator. The Parade was streamed online and carried on Reshet Bet (Channel 2) in Israel. Schools and shuls, bands, youth –and not so youthful groups – poured onto Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue to “Celebrate Israel at the annual event. Thousands of spectators, Jews from every stream of Judaism and non Jewish friends of Israel lined the streets in a festive show of support for the Jewish State.
The post parade concert in Central Park featured Deputy Speaker of the Knesset MK Danny Danon, who claimed “80% of Israelis polled are against compromise of any form on the status of Jerusalem.” The day’s festivities concluded with a loud and lively, reverberating concert in the Edison Hotel, concluding the day of celebration. JCRC Executive Director Michael Miller joined Counsel General Ido Aharoni in giving a rousing thank you to more than a thousand concert goers, many of whom had been part of the Fifth Avenue march.