Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A View from Afar - Israeli Day Parade

All-round internet guy Jacob Richman sent the Efrat email list a series of photos from yesterday's Salute to Israel Parade in New York City. While I don't have the time I'd like to view all the great shots that Jacob seems to have time to take and send, I stopped work to see what our brethren in America are doing to celebrate Israel's Independence...so I clicked: http://www.jr.co.il/rally/world/2010/r0031.htm
Lots of interesting stuff there. Each photo is an anthropological study on the way American Jewry relates to Israel. One man's poster says, "I love America! I love Israel! I love Yankees!" There ya go, one segment of America - American as apple pie, American as baseball and red, white and blue, but they still love Israel in their way. I think that's great.
Made-It In America
Then there were a bunch of cars with signs touting Israelis that had actually "made it" - like First Israel NBA Basketball Player Omri Casspi, WBA Boxing Champion Dmitriy Salita, Israeli Supermodel Adi Neumann, and First Israeli World Boxing Champ Yuri Foreman. I'd get a bit critical about their criteria for "making it in America", but, ya know what, American society needs "movie stars" and "Mickey Mouse." It thrives on famous people and glamour. So to whoever set up these specific cars, Omri and Adi, etc. are the closest thing we've got right now to "stars."
Banner Bearers
Then, there were the traditionally sweet sneaker-clad paraders behind their banners: the seniors in their army medals carrying their Jewish War Veterans Banner; the proud Public Safety members of the National Conference of Shomrim; Shomrei Tzedek Court Volunteers; yellow t-shirted kids from HAFTR High School of the Five Towns (my old hometown), and "Skating &Blading for Israel" (now that's unique, but I was disappointed to see that they were walking, not roller blading); black shirted-beige pantsed Rambam High School. Casual folks in white shirts and jeans walked behind an unimpressive white and blue sign reading, "Government of Israel". I mean, couldn't we have done a little better? Okay, some carried white and blue balloons. Let's tear that $73 expense out of our budget from the multi-billion shekel Wall.
These Kids are Educated Right!
One school marched under a banner called "Notes in the Kotel." And along the way, they displayed giant notes, "Jewish pride," "Make the world green," "Elevate us among people" (hmm?). Bruriah's banner read, "Bruriah takes action for the missing in Action", as girls carried photos of MIA soldiers. Good for you, Bruriah!! Purple t-shirted Yeshiva of Flatbush marched behind a banner of "Mitzvot that are Dependent on Eretz Yisrael" Great! And the red shirted Frisch School under a movie banner, crediting the Divine Director on Location in Eretz Yisrael.
Floats with hearts and flowers and fun: Yad Sara, Bank HaPoalim, even the National Yiddish Book Center, 92nd St. Y, the Jewish Channel (I love their motto - a Light Unto the Stations :) ). Hillel Yeshiva of Deal, NJ, JNF Brings Water to all of Israel, (I was proud ot read 250 million trees, 209 reservoirs - yay for good news from JNF). ElAl (It's not just an airplane, it's Israel.), American Friends of Magen David Adom, "Israel: 100 Years of Green" displaying a mini-Golan windmill, an electric car "soon to be featured in Israel", IDT Energy, Nefesh B'Nefesh (Live the dream) together with Tzofim, Israel Scouts.
Small Town Fun
Folks with sashes, just like in the small town-set Music Man movie, fire engines with waving children, dogs wearing Israeli flags.
The marching bands - Jewish, non-Jewish, civilian, police, black, white. Plumes in their hats, bass drums on their shoulders, and even batons twirling. Yesh!!
And of course, the mandatory politicians with megaphones, B"H calling out their support for Israel. Let's give a cheer to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Anthony Weiner, and Senator Chuck Schumer.
Okay, there were no big messages, like "Jerusalem is ours forever." "Keep the Holy Land Whole." "Defrost the Building Freeze."
But there were thousands of people watching marchers who smiled about Israel. There were folks who were proud to show they were Jewish. There were old folks remembering the day Israel became a state. There were little kids saying "oooh" at the Israeli floats. There were kids identifying with Israel on their own level.
Some might try to criticize the yearly Salute to Israel Parade as superficial and transitory. I wouldn't.
The Parade is a fun, flashy, huggy, hand-wave-y way to celebrate Israel in a non-threatening, not too serious way. No debates. No protests. No fights. Just fine. "Hey, I'm Jewish. I love Israel." "Hey, way cool, me too."
And that's fine too.

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