Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

UJA Jewish Toronto Contingent Marches in NYC’s 50th Annual Celebrate Israel Parade

Jewish Torontonians joined over 35,000 passionate supporters of Israel in the annual parade in New York

By: Dan Horowitz

Published: June 2nd, 2014 in News » World

For the first time ever, a contingent from Jewish Toronto, organized by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, joined more than 35,000 passionate supporters of the Jewish State in a march up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Sunday morning in the 50th annual Celebrate Israel Parade.

Among those who took part in the Parade, which drew thousands of onlookers, were New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Israeli diplomats and members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

Jewish Toronto’s inaugural appearance at the Israel Day Parade – chaired by Judy Bronfman – was the brainchild of Andrea Cohen and David Matlow, the Chairs of United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto’s Campaign 2015. Matlow and Cohen suggested that Toronto have a presence in order to reach out to the many Torontonians living in New York, especially college students and young professionals.

Also, having a UJA Toronto contingent in the parade was a great way for Jewish Toronto to show its ongoing support for the people of Israel, especially in the wake of last weekend’s UJA Walk with Israel, which attracted 20,000 participants.

Bronfman was accompanied in the parade by her children Alexandra and Andrew.

“We were completely overwhelmed by the response to our group in New York,” said Bronfman. “People asked for our Canadian flags so they could wave them. Luckily, we brought extras. It was clear to us that Canada’s support for Israel is well known in New York. While we were receiving the cheers they were really directed at all Canadian supporters of Israel.”

On registration, each participant received a Walk with Israel T shirt, Canadian and Israeli flags and a souvenir key chain. The key chain was generously donated by Danny Levinson of Lambertville, New Jersey and was sold by the East Side Torah Center as a fundraiser in the 1940s. The letter that accompanied the key chain signed by Judy Bronfman, David and Andrea and Alison Himel, Chair of UJA Women’s Philanthropy, stated the following:

The East Side Torah Center was founded in 1890. In the 1940s, its fundraising campaign involved the sale of this keychain. In 2014, both the methods of fundraising and the needs of the Jewish community are much more complex. However, the objective of helping our fellow Jews in need remains the same. In Toronto, United Jewish Appeal is the organization that has the scope and breadth to help every person who is in need. UJA also has the capacity to fashion creative solutions to difficult social problems, as well as to conceive and implement unique experiences such as the one you are about to enjoy”.

And enjoy, they did.

“Being involved in the UJA Campaign is not only meaningful, it is also fun,” said Cohen. “We knew that the parade would be a great experience for the participants. Also, it shows that we in Toronto are part of the wider group known as the Jewish people. Not only does UJA raise money that transforms the lives of many members of the Jewish people, it marches in solidarity with it. That is what is significant about Toronto being in the parade. We are one with all people who care about the State of Israel and with helping our fellow Jews.”

“For me, the highlight of the Parade was turning the corner from 54th Street where we waited, on to Fifth Avenue,” said Matlow, whose New York-based daughter Naomi was a valuable volunteer in making Toronto’s appearance a reality. “I looked north up the street and I saw group after group as far as you could see, all waving Israeli flags to the sound of Israeli music. Sometimes supporting Israel feels like a lonely business. Last week in Toronto at the Walk with Israel and this week in New York I saw how many people care about our homeland. It is inspiring to know that so many others care. ‎Such support makes Israel strong, and we all need a strong Israel.”

To watch a video of Jewish Toronto marching in the Israel Day Parade, visit here.

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