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LGBT Groups March in the Celebrate Israel Parade

HRC Jewish Organization Equality Index; Celebrate Israel ParadeThis post comes from HRC Jewish Organiztion Equality Index Intern Sophie Fierst:

The 64th annual Celebrate Israel Parade  was held this past Sunday in New York City. The theme of the event was “Israel Branching Out.”  For the first time in the event’s history, openly LGBT groups were allowed to march in the parade . The group Jewish Queer Youth (JQY) was the first to use the word ‘gay’ on their banner. It was represented in the parade by 135 members, including members of the Manhattan JCC, A Wider Bridge, and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, an LGBT synagogue in Manhattan. Beit Simchat Torah was originally removed from the parade in 1993, when other groups in the parade threatened to boycott. LGBT groups have been allowed to participate since the year 2000, but they were not allowed to put the word ‘gay’ on their banners.

The event was considered a success by JQY and other LGBT organizations involved in the parade. Mordechai Levovitz, the co-executive director of JQY, was quoted in The Times of Israel saying that the members of the group finally “felt like a part of the Jewish community” and that “the crowd was overwhelmingly supportive.” Other marchers included Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, and others. 

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