Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Just like last year, it will be unusually quiet on Fifth Avenue the first Sunday in June. For only the second time in its 57-year history, the Celebrate Israel Parade has been cancelled, like last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the JCRC was not about to let another year go by without giving people the opportunity to celebrate Israel, even if virtually, nor was it going to stop holding its annual competition for its approximately 200 marching groups.

The competition will be a tad different from a typical year where tens of thousands of people gather in the streets of New York to celebrate Israel and watch marching groups pull out all the stops to put on their best presentations. But they still get to compete!

Dori Zofan, director of Jewish Communal Affairs for the JCRC, says that it’s a way “to give the Jewish community an outlet to celebrate Israel—to not have a year go by where so many people look forward to being on Fifth Avenue together. And while we obviously can’t gather together we can still share the same sentiment.”

Last year when the pandemic shut-down brought parades and other public gatherings to a screeching halt, the JCRC pivoted quickly to come up with an alternative way to celebrate Israel. Selecting the theme of Todah, parade organizers asked marching group participants to submit five- to 10-second video clips showing them doing a number of activities that highlighted them saying “Thank you/Todah.” The clips were streamed via YouTube on the parade’s website last June 7, the day the parade was supposed to take place.

This year, parade organizers are doing away with a theme altogether. All they ask is for groups to be as creative as possible in coming up with a way to celebrate Israel in a 30- to 45-second interview that will be aired on social media on June 6.

Zofan’s best advice for the groups is to “find a way to be creative. This year we have more opportunity to do just that because we don’t have a theme. This year it’s simply ‘Celebrate Israel.’ So I think the beauty is that people can take that in so many different directions.”

And to be sure groups submit a top-notch video, JCRC’s creative/education director, Karen Ostrove, offered some tips: 1) Hold the camera steady and horizontally. 2) Be creative and don’t forget those Israeli flags! 3) Pictures! Pictures! Pictures! 4) Dance! 5) Music!

The winning group will get free registration for next year’s parade, which will take place on May 22, 2022. Second place will get $500 and third place will get $250 toward registration.

The contest ends May 12, after Yom Yerushalayim, so make sure to submit a 30-45 second video showcasing how your group celebrates Israel.

For more information, please visit www.jcrcny.org

By Ronit Mershon

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