This past Sunday I had the honor and pleasure of once again marching in the parade alongside the group: Skaters and Bladers (and Walkers) which is in memory of JJ Greenberg whom I never met nor heard of until last year. I think i’ve been a part of the parade now for about three years. It all started when I came back from Israel where I lived for a year. After I came back, I had the opportunity to volunteer on staff for the parade which, at the time, I thought would be cool and somewhat of a new experience which it was but not as fun as I thought it would be until the end when I got on our float which signals the end of the parade. I admit that being on that float made me feel like royalty. The float driving by and waving to everyone knowing that maybe some of your friends are in the stands watching. You have that switch in your mind going “Look at me Igot a great view and you puny people in the stands don’t. Ha ha “. Yeah It made me feel good and it was fun but it’s one of those experiences I won’t forget for awhile.
So in the second year, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be involved in the parade because as easy as it seems on TV, it’s not as easy as you think to put on a parade and frankly, it’s not as fun when you run around doing all the work instead of actually watching it. However, one thing led to another and I don’t remember how this came about but around this time I was introduced to some group called Skaters and Bladers which I knew nothing about but as it turns out, a friend of mine was basically running the group in memory of JJ Greenberg whom as mentioned earlier did not know or meet which considering he’s no longer with us would have been impossible anyway.
From what I do know of him though it seems that he was very active in anything related to Israel including being one of the founders of Birthright which I’m proud to say was how I got to Israel for the first time. The parents of JJ started up this group as a way of keeping his memory alive. which I think is very commendable and I respect them for that. Anyway, based on that and who was part of the group, I decided that I would be honored to march with this group. I did and haven’t looked back.Now I don’t skate or blade but I do bike and I was thisclose to bringing it but backed out of it at the last minute thinking it wasn’t a good idea but if an old guy on a unicycle can march with us then why can’t I? Oh well, always next year….
This was my 2nd year marching and it brings me pride and joy when I march. I don’t really know why but knowing that people from all over come to celebrate their heritage and freedom just … When you lived in Israel for a year, you begin to look at things in a different light. Perspectives change. I never heard of the Parade before I even went but I don’t think I can look back . To me it just makes me wonder how with so many things our people have been through for hundreds and thousands of years, how people can look away and say this isn’t a “Jewish Event”. Just because you don’t believe in the state of Israel doesn’t mean it’s not one. There are many of us who do believe that as decreed in the bible when G-d gave us the land and we continue to fight for that land every day. So the parade symbolizes that. Well, in my opinion anyway.
There are always protesters that pop up that are usually against the parade and some people who are missionaries but as long as we ignore them we will continue to thrive because that’s what we have done for centuries. No matter how many times people wanted to persecute us we kept persevering and becoming stronger. Why? Beacuse we are a nation of one. A nation who rises up in unison to fight those that are intent of destroying us but we are strong. We grow in numbers and together we will wipe out everyone until there is no one left. Until we can all leave in peace and harmony in the land we call home saying together as one: AM YISROEL CHAI.