NEW YORK "Israel is the only entity that gets everybody together," said David Hyman, shaliach of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey and director of its Israel Programs Center. "All the different schools, Chabad, Israelis, synagogues who else can get all these people together in one event if not the State of Israel?"
About ’00 people from this area joined tens of thousands of marchers at Sunday’s Salute to Israel Parade, which marked the 58th anniversary of Israeli independence.
According to rally organizers, the parade attracted nearly 100,000 people, including Gov. Jon Corzine, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). Tovah Feldshuh, an actress known for portraying Golda Meir in the Broadway play "Golda’s Balcony," was the honorary grand marshal.
Delegations from four synagogues attended from the UJA-NNJ’s catchment area: the Jewish Community Center of Paramus, Temple Israel & Jewish Community Center in Ridgewood, Temple Emanu-El in Closter, and Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley. Yellow-shirted marchers carried signs bearing the names of Jewish Nobel laureates, one of the parade’s suggested themes.
"It was a great big crowd for our community," said Gershon Rosenzweig, president of the JCCP, who has attended the parade for several years.
The theme was selected from a list provided by the parade’s organizers in New York. Marcia Kagedan, who organized the JCCP’s participation, said that twice as many people marched from her shul as last year, and she expects there to be even more next year when she hopes they will have an actual float.
"Everybody came back with a very positive feeling about it," she said.
Organizers within the federation, which acted as the umbrella group for the four synagogues, were very pleased at the enthusiastic turnout.
The Israel Program Center’s Hyman is already looking forward to next year’s parade.
"It’s a unique experience walking up Fifth Avenue with thousands and thousands of Jews all supporting Israel. I don’t know how many opportunities a Jewish person in North America gets to do that."
JTA contributed to this report.