By N. Aaron Troodler
Carrying their large banners and waving Israeli flags with pride, three local Orthodox Jewish Day Schools from the Greater Philadelphia area marched together up Fifth Avenue in New York City on Sunday, June 3rd as part of the Celebrate Israel Parade.
For the first time ever, Caskey Torah Academy in Wynnewood, Kohelet Yeshiva in Merion Station and The Mesivta High School of Greater Philadelphia in Bala Cynwyd marched jointly under the banner of “The Yeshivot of Lower Merion, PA.” The three schools, which collectively educate over 600 students in the Greater Philadelphia area, traveled to Manhattan to take part in this exciting celebration marking 70 years since the founding of the modern State of Israel. Approximately 200 students, parents and grandparents from the three Lower Merion schools walked proudly, danced and sang Hebrew songs along the parade route.
“Caskey Torah Academy was proud to march in the Celebrate Israel Parade in New York City and demonstrate our solidarity with and support for our homeland, the State of Israel,” said Caskey Torah Academy Head of School Rabbi Isaac Entin. “Our parents and students were thrilled to march up Fifth Avenue, dancing and waving their Israeli flags in support of Israel!”
The three Lower Merion yeshivot, which were among the approximately 120 other groups who marched in the parade, focused on this year’s parade theme of “70 and Sababa.” For non-Hebrew speakers, sababa is commonly said by Israelis to indicate that something is fantastic or awesome. In celebration of the fact that in just 70 short years, the State of Israel has developed and advanced in incredible ways, this year’s Celebrate Israel Parade organizers urged participating schools and synagogues to focus on what they think is sababa about Israel.
In the weeks leading up to the parade, Caskey Torah Academy and Kohelet Yeshiva Middle School kept with the theme by conducting a survey among their middle school students about what they think is “Saba” about Israel. For Kohelet Yeshiva Middle School, Israeli food and Israel’s environmental innovations were among the top answers and were incorporated into the design of their parade banner.
“I told our families that those sworn to Israel’s destruction have proven themselves willing to march in the most adverse of circumstances for what they believe in,” said Kohelet Yeshiva Head of School Rabbi Dr. Gil Perl. “Now it is our turn, as passionate supporters of Israel, to show the world that we’re willing to march too. Seen against that backdrop, a three-hour bus ride to and from Manhattan is hardly a reason to keep anyone away.”
“By coming to the parade, it’s a way for us as Americans to show our solidarity and support our brothers and sisters in Israel,” said Rabbi Gershon Schwartz, the dean of students at The Mesivta High School of Greater Philadelphia. “In addition, the fact that we can all come together and march for the same purpose is something really special and shows our true achdus, unity.”