From the earliest I can remember, the idea of attending parade was shunned, frowned upon, and according to one Rebbe, categorized as Taboo. In fact, many of the Yeshivos I attended to, would try to schedule events, important tests in a manner that they would “inevitably” coincide on the parade dates, thus making the idea of attending all the harder and at times inconceivable.
“When there is a will, there is a way”, (though ask my Dad; “If there is a will, there is a fight between two lawyers”), and oh how applicable this was to me, how I would try every year to attend, and at times even yield to be successful. No, my school didn’t march, and there were some year’s relatives did and other they didn’t, but to me, it was important to be there – no matter what.
As to why, well that’s a different story. At first, when I was younger I think it was important to me just out of spite, as everyone knows forbidden candy tastes the sweetest. I think it was sheer rebellion and young teen flavor. But as I grew older, and became more exposed, I think things took a twist. For one, I became familiar with my roots, having found out that my mother’s father served in The 1948 War of Independence, a true Zionist and pioneer, definitely played a crucial part.
But I realized another thing, a thing that honestly has driven me into the attendance of yesterday’s parade and for the past few years, rain or shine. I realized we are a small bunch, barely a drop in the bucket we call earth. And that we aren’t heard enough, we aren’t celebrated enough, we aren’t happy enough – and for valid reasons, we have the ever trailing anti-Semitism, the series of unfortunate events played out through our history, where would be there time for celebration?
The answer is now. Now is the time to celebrate, and unfortunately there aren’t enough times, that we, as a people celebrate the idea of being Jewish, and how proud we should be! We’ve made it this far! We survived, we’ve multiplied and oh how we thrived! Yes, we do have Simchot, (and may we only have them!) and Yes, we have Yom Tovim, (I mean who doesn’t love endless eating), but honestly when and where have we had a day to say I am proud to be a Jew?! I am going to parade down Fifth Avenue why? because I am Jewish!
It’s for this reason, I attended, and will continue to attend. It’s not important what your views on Zionism and related politics are, we have enough of those already. It’s important to show your support for the Jewish nation and ethnicity. And though yes, the predominant idea concept of the parade is to celebrate Israel, think of what Israel really is, it’s more than a land, it’s a religion, it’s a people. We are the B’nai YISRAEL! We are the children of our Yisrael! And it is for this I celebrate!
But how important it is to celebration going! We should never be ashamed to be an observant Jew! We should always be proud not just yesterday, but every day! Yes, we should say this is MY Kippah! Yes this is me doing a Mitzvah! Let us continue with the same enthusiasm we had yesterday, everyday.
I’d like to end off by saying may we all celebrate being Jewish in the Holy Land, speedily.