Under an overcast sky, nearly 100,000 New Yorkers turned out June 4 for the city’s 42nd annual Salute to Israel Parade. Along with the mayor, New York’s two senators, talk-show host Ruth Westheimer, and contingents from the city’s Jewish police and firefighter societies, marchers included almost 100 members of the Halachic Organ Donor Society; 12 members of the First Hebrew Congregation of Peekskill in upstate New York, and upward of 500 students each from the Ramaz School, the Yeshiva of Flatbush and the Solomon Schechter Day Schools of New Jersey. Peppered among the marchers were floats mounted by the likes of El Al Israel Airlines, the American Jewish Committee, Jordache jeans (with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of “Kosher Sex” fame waving to the crowd), and marching bands from the American Legion, the First Panamanian Drum and Bugle Corps of Brooklyn and James Madison High School of Brooklyn.
As in years past, tiny groups of hecklers stood along the route, cordoned off behind police barricades, variously representing a Muslim anti-Israel group (one member of which was shouting, “Am Yisrael Die” at marchers) and the ultra-Orthodox, anti-Zionist Neturei Karta. Also present along the route, though less visible than in years past, were small knots of pro-settler protesters brandishing signs against Israeli-Palestinian compromise.
“This is all about peace,” said Andrew Frenkel, 10, a fourth grader at the Bicultural Day School in Stamford, Conn. Marching for Israel, he said, left him feeling “amazing, fabulous, excited — and proud.”