New York City's Fifth Avenue was covered in Israel's national colors of blue and white on Sunday as tens of thousands gathered for the annual Celebrate Israel events, the highlight of which was the Israel Day Parade.
Among the participants was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jewish US Congress members, Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, Ambassador to UN Ambassador Ron Prosor, Consul General Ido Aharoni, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York Michael Miller and others while hundreds of thousands watched the action on TV.
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The celebrations kicked off early Sunday morning with a special running event stretching a 6.4-kilometer track in Central Park. The race will culminate with a special "Israeli experience" happening at the Naumburg Bandshell.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the parade
Discussing the parade Managing Director of the Commission on Jewish People at UJA-Federation of New York, David Mallach noted: “The parade first started in 1964. During the 80’s and the 90’s the parade faced a decline in its attendance and popularity.
"Only when the second Intifada started in 2000 did more Jews from around New York begin to go out to the parade and show their support for Israel. In a sense, Yasser Arafat himself revived the Israeli parade and turned it into what we know today.”
Parade marches down Fifth Avenue
According to Mallach, the Israeli parade is probably the biggest event that supports Israel in the world as well as the largest New York Jewish community event. Also, it is the only “Jewish” event in New York that brings together Jews of all different religious sectors.
No other event does this. Mallach also stated that it is important to recognize that the biggest event in New York for the Jewish community is one that deals with Israel.
The parade is a joint initiative of the Jewish communities abroad and in Israel. "This event is a celebration of the special relationship between Israel and the United States, rooted in our common values and goals," Minister Edelstein, said.
Itamar Eichner contributed to the report
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