Singing "Am Yisrael Chai" and waving Israeli flags, more than 1,800 students from northern New Jersey Jewish day schools and congregational schools joined an estimated 100,000 Jews from throughout the region to march up New York City’s Fifth Avenue at the Salute to Israel Parade on May 6.
Students from The Frisch School marched in Sunday’s parade. courtesy of the frisch school
"It is always so stimulating when you get together with thousands of other Jews to celebrate the accomplishments of Israel and the spirit of its people. The parade is a wonderful opportunity to give ourselves an emotional boost and transmit to our family in Israel how much we care about them," said Rabbi Gerald Friedman of Temple Beth Shalom in Park Ridge.
More than 300 students from nine local schools marched in the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey’s delegation. Students hailed from the Jewish Community Center of Paramus, Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley in Woodcliff Lake, Temple Israel of Ridgewood, Temple Emanu-El of Closter, Congregation Gesher Shalom Jewish Community Center of Fort Lee, Temple Beth El of Northern Valley in Closter, Temple Beth Shalom in Park Ridge, Temple Beth Tikvah in New Milford, and Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies.
Students from Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center in Ridgewood marched for Israel. photo by Alan Grossman
"It’s a wonderful experience for our children to see everyone coming together to support Israel," said Sheila Toffell, school principal at Temple Beth Shalom. "The students at our congregational school feel great about helping to represent our Temple, and they come away feeling prouder about Israel and being Jewish."
The largest congregational school delegation came from the JCC of Paramus, which attracted more than 100 marchers. "One of my major goals as president of the synagogue is to instill a love of Israel amongst all the members of our congregation," said Gershon Rosenzweig, shul president. "With our large turnout on a gorgeous day, the high spirits of the marchers and the spectators cheering us on, the Salute to Israel Parade was a success for Israel, our synagogue, and all Jewish people."
Agreeing with Rosenzweig’s assessment, Rabbi Arthur Weiner, the synagogue’s religious leader, said, "I’m very proud to have such a large representation from our synagogue, and equally proud to march with the UJA-NNJ delegation. This is a great event that transcends politics and draws Jews together to support Israel."
Students participated from all the local day schools, including The Frisch School in Paramus, the Moriah School of Englewood, Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford, Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck, Yavneh Academy of Bergen County in Paramus, Yeshiva of North Jersey in River Edge, Schechter Regional High School, and Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in Teaneck.
Fifth-grader Michael Kaye, from the Moriah School delegation, was particularly excited, noting that "not only did I get to march for Israel, but I also met Senator Chuck," referring to meeting New York Sen. Charles Schumer who marched in back of him.
"As an Israeli, it is heartwarming to see and feel firsthand the support of so many local Jewish organizations that came out to support the people and the State of Israel," said David Hyman, community shaliach and director of Israel Programs Center of UJA-NNJ. "Once again, we can see why Israel is so important to the Jewish world. It is the one central entity in Jewish life that can bring people from all different denominations together for an event that celebrates the strength and achievements of the Jewish people in their homeland."
The congregational school delegation was coordinated by the UJA-NNJ and project chair Miriam Gray, school principal at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley. Gray said, "The annual Salute to Israel Parade is the one activity of the Jewish community in the metropolitan area that demonstrates our unified commitment to the security of the State of Israel. Whether we walk down Fifth Avenue or cheer on the side, we must take this moment in time to show our support for our homeland. Our apathy can be our greatest enemy."