July 15, 2024
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A Wandering Mind at the Israel Day Parade

Some random thoughts regarding this year’s Celebrate Israel Parade (its official name). “Am Yisrael Chai” is still the best Jewish song with the most bang for your buck. Five words get you 10 minutes of singing. I marched with OHEL, and as we lined up at 5th Avenue and 52nd Street, I could swear I heard the bells of St. Patrick’s Cathedral playing “Hatikva.”

It was really hot out there. Notice how the weather for the parade is always boiling hot or cold and rainy? It seems that it’s never just right.

I LOVE the fact that high school marching bands who clearly may not even know five Middle East countries by name come out for us and give us all a great experience.

Nefesh B’Nefesh wins the award for best float, hands down. Next year, I’m on that plane taking off from Fifth Avenue.

$3 for a Diet Coke….really?

The Parade may be the only event in the history of the Jewish people where tens of thousands of Jews gather in one place and there is almost no food to be found. I’m amazed that kosher vendors haven’t plastered the route….

It’s unusual to see as many Mets hats as Yankees hats in such a large gathering. This is clear evidence that we Jews love underdogs. Hey, someone has to think of this stuff.

Best moment of the Parade: watching an OHEL counselor carry a child with Down’s Syndrome the entire length of the parade route. At the end, with the counselor shvitzing something fierce, the young man emptied his full bottle of spring water onto the sweat-soaked head of his hero. Am Yisrel Chai indeed.

More unsung heroes: our Day School maintenance and buildings-and-grounds guys, who show up alongside our children every year, pushing the music or the bottled water wagons. Good for them!

The Dominicans and Puerto Ricans may have more flair at their parades, but we definitely win the Ruach contest.

Stella K. Abraham. Goldie Och. Samuel Wang. The Rosenbaums. All of blessed memory, and all undoubtedly looking down on the results of their investments and smiling. Nachas!

I remember the days when people lined up three-deep along the entire length of the Parade route. As wonderful as the Parade is, those days are long gone.

Kudos to the NYPD for their new security innovations such as the double-gates along the route—it makes a ton of sense.

What’s with the people who will knock over old ladies just to get a free hat or Frisbee tossed at them from one of the marching groups? Do you need the freebie that badly? I bet 80% of the stuff you hoarded is in your basement by now.  Just sayin’.

Worse yet, I saw a few old ladies knocking over children to get at the tchotchkes.

Remember the feeling of watching your oldest child march for the first time? Happened to me in 2003 and I imagine you too were bursting with pride.

A standing ovation to the Shomrim Society and other Jewish police officers who marched. They are always a great source of pride.

I’m getting close to being the older guy who sits on the bench in the shade while watching everyone else go by—scary.

A shout out to the Nachum Segal Network for broadcasting the event worldwide on the internet.

Think the ex-pats who made aliyah years ago were looking in from Israel and saying, “Thank God we don’t have to do THAT anymore for each of our kids!”

I tried to look for controversy but couldn’t find any. Some other newspaper writer will, guaranteed.

Never gets old: seeing rebbes dancing with their talmidim to an MBD song is still awesome.

This one has been bothering me for a long time: I really love it when the EL AL pilots march, but, um….who’s flying the plane?

Israel beat Honduras 2-0 in soccer later that afternoon at CitiField. Any Israeli victory is worthy of note and celebration.

I want to be the little boy sitting on his Daddy’s shoulders—just one more time.

Robert Katz has been a Bergen County resident for 25 years and has been a Jewish communal professional since graduating Yeshiva Unversity in 1985. He can be reached for comments at: [email protected]

By Robert Katz

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