Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Salute to Israel

Last Sunday was the annual Salute to Israel Parade in New York. Jewish students and others marched up Fifth Avenue amid song, dance, floats and general rejoicing. Forgotten for a moment were all Israel's troubles and all the infighting within the Jewish community here, as we came together k'ish ehad b'lev ehad (well, almost) to celebrate Israel's 62nd birthday.











Friends of the Israel Defense Forces



















Israel to the Rescue - Showcasing humanitarian aid provided by Israel to disaster victims the world over














Hang 'em high - The usual traitors from Neturei Karta were there along with their Arab and leftist camp followers.







I have been at this parade in various capacities almost since its inception. While in high school, I marched either with my school or with Bnei Akiva. In the 1970s the parade was arranged by the American Zionist Youth Foundation, and I was among the college and graduate students serving as volunteer marshals. Later on the American Zionist Youth Foundation dropped its sponsorship in a spat over participation by Beth Simchat Torah, New York's gay and lesbian synagogue. That synagogue remains excluded after Orthodox groups threatened to withdraw if Beth Simchat Torah was there, and sponsorship of the parade passed to an ad hoc "Israel Tribute Committee." After decades of amateurism including groups stepping off hours after their scheduled time, the committee last year hired a professional "event organizer," and everything went off without a hitch. This year the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) took over the parade, and again it was professionally run. I kind of miss the spontaneity of its student-run days, but in today's security and budget climate "fashionably late" is no longer viable. I would like to see Beth Simchat Torah somehow included, perhaps among the other Reform synagogues without being identified as gay and lesbian. We Orthodox always marched with all kinds of avaryanim (transgressors) and never "checked tzitzit;" why should gay Jews be an exception?
May we all live and be well, and may next year's parade be even grander.

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