Attendees from numerous synagogues, schools, youth groups and organizations commemorated the 63rd anniversary of Israeli independence. The march was led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Charles Schumer, and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, among other elected officials.
For the first time, the world’s largest pro- Israel event in the diaspora was broadcast on live television through WWOR-TV.
As an alumna, I marched with Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, which stepped up some two hours after the parade commenced. Many HANC rabbis and teachers brought their families and marched together with the students.
The students came from all three HANC campuses- the Plainview elementary school, the West Hempstead elementary school, and the Uniondale middle/high school- everyone marching together, having a great time with their fellow students and teachers.
The sea of the school’s red t-shirts was certainly hard to miss. In keeping with the parade’s theme, “In Tune With Israel,” the students loudly sang “Am Yisrael Chai” as they marched up Fifth Avenue, waving flags and student-made banners. The fourth to sixth grade girls wore colorful streamers on their wrists and performed a special dance along the route.
Michelle Teitelbaum, a 10th grader at HANC, remarked that this year’s parade felt shorter than usual. Indeed, the 2011 parade route only ran from 57th St. to 74th St. In the past, the parade had stretched up to 79th Street.
As they passed the ‘protester box,’ many HANC students noticed that it seemed very empty, with only a small handful of anti-Zionists holding signs and thumbing down the parade.
The weather held up very nicely this year, and the slight breeze made walking very comfortable.
Following the parade was the Israel Day Concert/Rally at the Central Park Summer Stage. Avraham Fried reiterated the message of keeping Jerusalem united as he belted out his most popular hits. Among the speakers, David F. Nesenoff distributed his speech to the audience and they read it together.
The event was organized by Dr. Joseph Frager of Jamaica Estates, and Dr. Paul and Drora Brody of Great Neck. The concert and the Nesenoff speech were dedicated to the release of Jonathan Pollard and Gilat Shalit.