By Larry Gordon
A Glorious Day In New York
It was a glorious day in midtown Manhattan as tens of thousands came out in force to celebrate Israel. What a spectacle—a day devoted to saluting Israel that lived up to its anticipation and expectations. I stood along Fifth Avenue at 72nd Street watching marchers from schools and organizations walk, strut, prance, and dance their way up the avenue as New York marked the 66th anniversary of the founding and declaration of the modern state of Israel in 1948.
Later in Central Park, the 21st Annual Israel Day Concert with a star-studded cast played before thousands gathered under a burning sun and spectacular blue sky; many who had stood under cloudy skies and at times marched in soaking rains in years prior repeatedly thanked G‑d for smiling on this effort on such a beautiful day.
A deserved tribute to the New York City Police Department is in order considering the smooth, efficient, and blanket-like security put into effect around the parade area. New York is a city that features ethnic-themed parades on a regular basis, but probably nothing as controversial, diverse, and subjected to criticism like this parade that salutes the State of Israel.
People gathered in record numbers just to be there and make their own personal statement of support for Israel. You didn’t have to jump, march, or twirl to be a part of the effort. I asked a police captain as I was leaving the park whether there had been any incidents reported, such as muggings, assaults, unruly crowds, misbehaving, or drunken kids and so on. He just shook his head in the negative—absolutely nothing like that.
Just outside the park waiting for a light to change, I observed a young man from Chabad approach a couple and ask the man the usual question, “Excuse me, sir, are you Jewish?” He said that he was. The young man showed him a pair of tefillin and asked him if he would consent to put it on and recite the Shema. The man shook his head in the negative to which the younger man said, “Sir, there is so much darkness out there. This can bring a little light into the world.” The man was still hesitant but his wife urged him to just go ahead and do it. They moved to a park bench at the side of the street and the man extended his hand, recited the berachah of the tefillin, placed his hands over his eyes, and said the Shema. What a beautiful day. v