YU Attends Israel Day Parade which Rebrands and Leads with a More Somber Tone

By: Nissim Farhy  |  June 9, 2024

By Nissim Farhy

This year’s Israel Day Parade drew 100,000 supporters including 70 relatives of hostages kidnapped on Oct. 7 and a group of Yeshiva University students, faculty, and alumni, who went to show their support for Israel. 

The annual parade, held on the first Sunday in June since 1964, took on a more somber tone and rebranded this year to ‘Israel Day on 5th’ in solidarity with the 125 hostages still held in Hamas captivity. Subsequently, four hostages were rescued by IDF forces in a daring military operation in Gaza.  

The parade, which was also the first large-scale Jewish event in New York City since the start of the war, traveled along Fifth Avenue from 57th street to 74th street and began at 11:30 AM. With the recent rise in antisemitism and pro-Palestinian protests following Oct. 7, the parade featured intense security with increased police presence, barricades, drones and metal detectors. However, there were few protesters and no violence at the parade despite concerns proceeding the event. 

Over 200 schools and organizations attended the parade to express their solidarity, including a contingency of several hundred YU students who were partnered with Students Supporting Israel (SSI). Prior to the parade, SSI leaders and alumni met with six Israeli mayors that represent hundreds of thousands of Israelis. “The mayors strengthen us, and we empowered them,” SSI founder and president Ilan Esilnakov told the YU Observer. “SSI will continue being a leading voice in the pro-Israel movement all across North America on every campus we have.”

The group of YU students which met at 53rd St at the parade “was the biggest one ever,” Racheli Jian (SCW ‘25) told the YU Observer. “I think the Israel parade this year was especially inspiring,” she said. “To be surrounded by fellow students and Jews in support of Israel… really showed how powerful our community is. We show up for each other.”

Notably, several high ranking politicians attended the rally including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and New York Governor Kathy Hocul, who commenced the parade holding a sign in solidarity with Israel. “Let these families be in peace,” Hocul announced, “Let them be with their loved ones. Let that happen not a day longer.” Sharon Sharabi, brother of hostages Yossi Sharabi, who was killed in Hamas captivity, and Eli Sharabi commented about the parade, “It is an important day for us to know that American people stand with Israel, every day, every time, everywhere.”

Many attendees, including those from YU, wore shirts and held signs in support of Israel, calling for the return of the hostages in Hamas captivity. “Let us say that Hamas is evil and that we will defeat Hamas,” Schumer said to jeers in the crowd from those who criticize him for his seeming lack of support for Israel. “Bring them home!” 

Held almost eight months after the Oct. 7 attack in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and more than 250 were taken hostage, the parade focused on unity and solidarity. With orthodox schools such as Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School and DRS Yeshiva High School singing “Hashem Melech,” more liberal groups with Israeli pride flags, and even a contingency of pro-Israel bikers with Israeli flags draped over their fenders, the parade encompassed the diversity of the pro-Israel bloc.

With support for Israel in the political sphere waning and the number of pro-Palestine protests since the start of the war increasing above 1,300, many YU students felt the need to express their solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people. “I believe it was especially important this year to march proudly in support of Israel,” Naomi Rose (SCW ‘25) told the YU Observer, “And to show antisemites that we will never back down.”

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University