Shortly before the Israel Day on 5th Parade kicked off on 5th Avenue in New York City on Sunday, Arutz Sheva-Israel National News caught up with UJA Federation of New York CEO Eric Goldstein.

“We've never had a parade down Fifth Avenue like this one. We've had this parade for over 60 years, but October 7th changed the world, and certainly changed the feeling about this being a boisterous parade with pom poms and beach balls. This is a parade that we do with very heavy hearts, but recognize ever more important how vital it is that we support and protect a Jewish homeland in Israel. You know there are people who agree and disagree about very many things around Israel, but they put that aside today, recognizing how important it is to show up, particularly at this moment to say, ‘We are proudly, publicly Jewish, in the largest Jewish community in the world outside of the state of Israel, and we are going to be there for Israel now and always,’” Goldstein noted.

He explained that “the whole focus of this year’s march at Fifth Avenue is to put a spotlight on the hostages, the over 120 hostages that are still in Gaza, and to say as publicly as we can “Bring Them Home! Bring Them Home Right Now, Immediately!” Then we're also focusing on the devastated communities in the South and the survivors from Kfar Aza, Nir Oz, Re’im, Holit, and Be’eri and to say we need to keep their stories alive as well, so people recognize just how horrific the attack was on October 7th and the long road ahead we still have for these families.”

Goldstein added: “The growing antisemitism in the streets of New York only reinforces the importance of this event. We need to show that we are a proud and public Jewish community. We're not afraid to be on the streets of New York as Jews and as supporters of Israel. That's always been true, but it's particularly true now in the face of antisemitism and we can't let antisemitism define us. We can't be perceived as a Judaism that stands for fighting antisemitism. We need to live a public, proud, joyful Judaism and coming out on a day like today, marching along Fifth Avenue to support Israel, is one way of doing that."