BROOKLYN, NY – Groups from at least 11 states, representing a huge cross-section of American Jewish communities, have registered marching bands, banners and truck-mounted floats in The Great Parade along Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway as part of a historic celebration on Sunday, May 2nd in honor of Lag B’omer.
Rooted in Unity
The springtime celebration of Lag B’omer marks two major events in Jewish history.
During the 1st century, 24,000 students of the Jewish sage Rabbi Akiva perished in a 33-day-long plague. It ended on Lag B’omer after they resolved their discord and accepted one another completely.
In his writings, Rabbi Akiva’s student, the great sage and author of the Zohar Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, emphasized the charge of “Loving your fellow as yourself,” as a call to literally support and guide the growth of others as you would your own growth. By his request, his passing is marked on Lag B’omer with joy and togetherness.
Worth A Thousand Classes
“The idea of marching in a giant parade with thousands of people, being cheered by thousands more, is packed with symbolism,” says Tzviki Wolvovsky, a parade organizer. “This is basically the deepest feeling we give our Jewish children,” he explains, “to walk proudly forward in the joyful service of G-d.”
The Great Parade is a mega-celebration of these themes, bringing tens of thousands of children and adults together from all Jewish traditions and backgrounds for a three separate concerts, a spectacular parade and day-long festivities including a petting zoo, street fair, carnival rides and kosher concessions.
Esther Bergman, a pre-K teacher in a Princeton, NJ Hebrew school says “As a teacher and parent, I could not have asked for more.” Bergman’s school has coordinated with four other schools in the region to march in The Great Parade as one group.
“This is the love for Judaism and for Jewish people that I try to convey,” she says. “A thousand classroom activities could never match the real life energy of sharing this with so many diverse communities.”
Send In the Clowns
A US Army marching band will start things off at the parade, followed by clown motorcades, school marching bands and floats, international musicians and the Nerveless Nocks motorbike hi-wire stunt troupe.
An earlier outdoor concert will help set the tone of the day, as popular all-star Jewish performers Mordechai ben David, Avraham Fried, Lipa Schmeltzer and Uncle Moishy share a stage for the first time ever.
After the concert and parade, day-long festivities continue with a petting zoo, street fair, carnival rides and kosher concessions. The popular children’s entertainers Uncle Moishy and the Mitzvah Men will perform two afternoon concerts in a nearby auditorium.
Reserved seats and public areas at The Great Parade will allow individuals, families and small groups to join the action, while pre-reserved sections, designated bus lots and lunch areas will help schools and community centers make the most of the day.