1 nation with 1 heart will never walk alone

Lovers of Zion march together on 5th Ave


With t-shirts broadcasting their support for the Jewish state, an estimated 100,000 people marched up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on Sunday. Two New York schools joined others in conveying a clear message, with students from HAFTR in the Five Towns (top left) proclaiming “Israel You Will Never Walk Alone,” while those from SAR in Riverdale (top right) declaring, in Hebrew, “One Nation One Heart.”

Israel Day on Fifth (previously called the Celebrate Israel Parade) drew more than 100,000 attendees to its 60th annual event, “breaking all previous records,” according to UJA-Federation of NY.

“What you’re seeing today are larger crowds of marchers than ever before,” said UJA CEO Eric Goldstein, “showing just how determined the New York community is to stand in solidarity and love with Israel.”

New York city and state officials turned out in full force with Eric Adams, the city’s mayor, saying that “our message is extremely clear: Destroy Hamas, bring home the hostages.”

Adams marched alongside family members of hostages.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is Jewish and has a long history of supporting Israel, drew heavy and sustained jeers at the start of the parade route when he spoke. Schumer has been highly critical in recent weeks of the Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces.

Referring to Hamas, Schumer said that “we know who is responsible for this evil.” A man standing mere feet away shouted, “You.”

Three New York area Democratic members of Congress — Ritchie Torres, Tom Suozzi and Dan Goldman — held a press conference with the families of Omer Neutra and Itay Chen. Both families have long-standing ties to the city.

The Long Island-born Neutra, a tank commander serving near Gaza, has been missing since Oct. 7. Chen, a Brooklyn native who was also serving near Gaza, was killed on Oct. 7 and his body is still being held.

“We all want to see an end to the war in Gaza — but an end to the war requires above all else the release of the hostages,” said Torres as he stood with the families of Neutra and Chen.

“Hamas has the power to end the war it began and release the hostages,” he said.

For Suozzi, the issue was personal.

“I know this family well,” he told JNS, of the Neutras. “It turns out that I had met Omer Neutra when he was in high school. And I have a 22-year-old son, and I can’t imagine what they’re going through. We’re going to do everything we can to fight to bring them home.”

Suozzi said that no matter where any member of Congress stood on Israel, the fact that American hostages are still being held in Gaza should be enough to bring them together.

“Whether you’re a right-wing conservative or left-wing progressive, everybody should agree,” said Suozzi. “We want to bring home our American hostages, and in doing so, hope to bring an end to this conflict and bring all the hostages home.”

“This is the most important parade in my lifetime,” Mark Treyger, CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which organizes the parade, told JNS.

The grandson of Holocaust survivors and son of Soviet parents who fled religious persecution, Treyger said that “strength and resiliency is in me both as a New Yorker and as a proud Jew.”

Treyger called the parade “an affirmation of our unwavering commitment and pride in our Jewish identity, our love for our heritage [and]our support for Israel.”

Goldstein, of the UJA, told JNS that it’s necessary to have joy and pride about Israel.

“It would be really inappropriate this year to have pom poms and beach balls,” he said. “That said, we have to still celebrate the miracle that is the modern day state of Israel. We need to carry the concerns of the hostages, the devastation, that destruction.”

Anti-Israel protesters are usually assigned a place on 59th Street along the parade route, but due to particularly violent pro-Hamas protests, demonstrators were pushed a block off the route.