Montreal’s March To Jerusalem has been indefinitely postponed. The annual event which culminated with the YMYWHA’s Israeli Street Festival has been a mainstay in Montreal for 45 years.
In a short message on their website, March organizers wrote “Unfortunately, we were not able to secure a date for the March to Jerusalem at its usual time this year due to other large scale community events occurring in June. Please stay tuned to our Facebook page for a possible future date later this summer.”
Created after Israel’s victory in the 1967 Mideast war, The March to Jerusalem used to span 25 kilometers and attract over 25,000 participants. School aged children spent weeks prior to the March collecting pledges for every kilometer they walked and having their “passport” stamped as they reached each checkpoint. For weeks after the March, Montreal’s Jewish community’s children wore the metals handed out to those who completed. For some, it was a sense of accomplishment, a sense of pride.
Daniel Enayatzadeh, a commentator on The Howie Silbiger Show on Radio Shalom remembers participating in the March to Jerusalem. “I remember the March to Jerusalem was such an amazing moment in my life. Every year I looked forward to it, I used to do the March with my grandfather, when I used to finish the March and go to the Israeli Street Festival to get my falafel, it was such a sense of accomplishment, I walked 25 kilometers, I did my part, raised some money for the Jewish Community. It was such a great feeling.”
The March started at the Cummings House on Cote St Catherine Road ran up Mount Royal and then circled back ending at the Cummings House. The Israeli Street Festival took place on Westbury in front of the YMYWHA.
Over the years, as attendance dwindled, March organizers played with the formula. They eliminated the individual pledge sheets in favor of an online form, they reduced the distance marched from 25 kilometers to 7 kilometer then eventually to 5 kilometers. They moved the March to Cote St Luc two years ago, separating themselves from the Israeli Street Festival, instead hosting a family day at a local park, attendance did not increase.
Last year, less than 5,000 people participated and attendance at the Israeli Street Festival, both in booth reservations and attendees was dismal.
The YMYWHA has not announced if they plan to host The Israeli Street Festival this year.
By Howie Silbiger – Montreal Jewish News