Оur Community Demonstrates Solidarity with Israel at Israel Day Parade in Manhattan

The Bukharian Jewish community, under the coordination of Rafael Nektalov, was represented by the Bukharian Jewish Congress of the USA and Canada at the annual Israel Day parade in Manhattan, on Sunday, June 2, 2024. Community members and leaders, including Chief Rabbi Baruch Babaev, Rafael Nektalov, Dr. Zoya Maksumova, and Yosef Khaimov came out in force to show their support for Israel.
Chief Rabbi Baruch Babaev expressed his pride in the community’s annual participation in the parade. «Our community has a deep and enduring connection to Israel. We are proud to stand with Israel, and we value the opportunity to express our support in such a public and visible way.» Rafael Nektalov echoed these sentiments, saying, «It’s a great honor for us to represent our community and show our unwavering support for Israel,» he said. «We are proud of our heritage and our connection to Israel.”
Roshel Yagudaev was among the many individuals and families participating in the parade. Yagudaev, who lived in Israel for 18 years, where he got married and raised his children, expressed his deep connection to the country. “I am so happy I was a part of this special parade for Israel,” said Yagudaev. “My family and I are always ready to support Israel. Israel is our home. So, when Mr. Rafael Nektalov called me about this special day, I answered, ‘Yes, I am always there to support Israel.’”
The Bukharian Jewish Congress of the USA and Canada partnered with the Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations (COJECO) to participate in the parade. The Israel Day Parade is organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

Rafael Nektalov expressed his gratitude to Zalman Zvulonov of Jewish Institute of Queens for providing bus transportation for participants and to Michael Zavolunov of Da Mikelle for providing refreshments. «Their contributions greatly facilitated our participation. It’s through the selfless acts of individuals like Zalman Zevulunov and Michael Zavolunov that we are able to come together as a community and make a significant impact. We are deeply grateful for their support and commitment.» Nektalov said.
This year’s Israel Day Parade saw approximately 45,000 participants march up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. It represented the only major Jewish event in the city since the tragic events of October 7, 2023, amidst incessant anti-Israel protests across New York City. Unlike previous years, this year’s parade was significantly subdued. The Israel day parade closely follows Israel’s day of independence and is usually a celebratory affair. This year however, there was a palpable climate of solidarity and resilience, as participants rallied for the return of hostages held in Gaza.
Among the attendees were also Israeli dignitaries and celebrities. Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, Foreign Minister Israel Katz, Israeli UN ambassador Ofir Akunis, Israeli Consul General in New York Ofir Akunis, and former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett were among the Israeli officials attending the event. Israeli celebrities, including Eden Golan, who represented Israel at the Eurovision last month, and Hassidic rapper Nissim Black, also attended the event. Golan’s attendance — which marked the star’s first visit to the US — was thanks to the UJA.

David Aronov, who serves as the UJA’s Special Advisor for Community and External Relations, stood alongside Golan. Aronov coordinated the UJA’s efforts in the parade, from liaising with all the agencies and staff to organizing pre-parade meetings to t-shirt distribution. “Everything went off without a hitch. When the float turned on 5th Avenue, we saw thousands of people behind us. It was a beautiful sight to behold,” said Aronov. Aside from Eden Golan, the UJA invited Hillel college students on board. “We wanted to highlight the rise of antisemitism at colleges this year,” explained Aronov.
The procession was led by about 2,500 members of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, a group based in Israel advocating on behalf of the kidnapped and included family members from approximately 70 families of hostages in Gaza.
Hatzolah, the Jewish volunteer emergency medical service, deployed a substantial number of personnel and equipment to the event and set up a mobile command center to ensure rapid response to any medical emergencies. A participant from the Bukharian Jewish Community was attended to by Hatzolah after suffering from heat stroke. The organization’s efforts were praised by community leaders and parade participants alike. «We are grateful for Hatzolah’s dedication,» said Rafael Nektalov. «Their presence here today and readiness to assist is a reassurance to all of us.»

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul (Democrat), New York City Mayor Eric Adams (Democrat), US Senator Chuck Schumer (Democrat – NY), and Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz (Democrat) were among the elected officials in attendance. Senator Schumer, who is Jewish and a staunch supporter of Israel, was booed as he was called up to deliver remarks, a sign of tension between the US Jewish community and Democrats over President Joe Biden’s handling of Israel’s war against Hamas. In March, Schumer called for the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the Senate floor.
NYC Mayor Adams said he faced pressure to cancel the event, but said he believes most New Yorkers supported it and issued a defiant message to those opposed. “There was a desire for those who wanted to cancel this parade… Our message is extremely clear: destroy Hamas, bring home the hostages, let’s bring peace so we don’t lose lives of innocent people,” said Adams. “Today, you see the solidarity, the loudest is not the majority in the city, the majority of the city support the Jewish community here, they support destroying and moving hate out of our city,” he added.
The event had an unmistakable security presence to counter potential violence against participants. The parade route along 5th Avenue was shortened this year to between 56th and 74th streets. New York Police Department officials employed high-profile measures including an increased and heavily armed police presence, snipers on building rooftops, surveillance drones, K-9 unit (bomb sniffing dogs), bike patrols, and a counterterrorism unit. Spectators had to pass through designated entry points and were limited to a ten-block area on the east side of Fifth Avenue. A double-row of barriers along 5th Avenue, along with a 10-foot no-go zone, separated marchers and spectators. All other areas were completely blocked off to spectators and pedestrians, giving the event an empty feeling.
It was common to hear participants expressing gratitude to the police officers they encountered, saying “thank you for your service.” The event concluded with the NYPD reporting zero parade-related arrests.
Eli Takhalov