By Yossi Cohen, a tankist in the parade
It was a beautiful sunny day in Los Angeles, California. While many children like me, would run to the park or beach in this weather, the boys and girls of Southern California piled into the Cheder Menachem hall for chance to celebrate the Rebbe’s 111th birthday in a way that would really make the Rebbe proud – with a grand Tzivos Hashem rally!
The rally, run by Rabbi Mendel Duchman, has united 350 children with children from around the world who joined in live. Following the rally, everyone raced outdoors for the grand Mitzvah Tank Parade. The parents gathered on the corner, to escort the 11 tanks about to hit the streets of LA by storm.
Snapping pictures, excitement growing, niggunim playing loudly from the speakers – the scene was a quite a rare phenomenon, even for the Anash and children, being only the second year of a Mitzvah Tank Parade in LA, with LAPD escort coordinated by R’ Yankee Raichik.
Clad in Tank Parade t-shirts and big smiles, over 50 tankistim proudly waved out the windows as the parade began, turning on to Pico Blvd., one of the busiest streets in the city.
The parade, organized by “The Rebbe’s Diamond Daveners – Kol Yakov Yehuda” and “Unzereh Kinder” foundation, drove through the Pico-Robertson area, down La Cienga, heading south on Wilshire Blvd through the world-famous “Museum Row” through Miracle Mile and onto La Brea Blvd finishing in Hancock Park, where lunch was served.
Over this drive being viewed by thousands of people walking and driving through the streets – inspiring them and really making a difference! Can you imagine what a spectacular sight it was for Jews and non-Jews alike seeing 11 motor-home turned Tanks parading through the streets, wrapped in signage displaying messages of goodness and kindness?
To reach the maximum amount of people, Los Angeles joined the global network of tanks – from New York, Monsey, Melbourne, Paris, Toronto, Montreal and many other places.
Each sign had a special QR barcode linking viewers to the ShareTheFreedom.com website which allowed passersby to find the closest tank, follow the progress of the tank parade on twitter, pledge hachlatos in honor of the Rebbe’s birthday, Shabbat info and so much more.
But that was just the beginning. Armed with the Tzivos Hashem soldiers, bochurim and members of Anash, the tanks split up to hit up the city’s most popular spots – UCLA, Santa Monica College, Larchmonth, Sunset, Hancock Park, Downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills Public Schools, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Drive.
These 11 tanks saw loads of Tefillin being put in, hachlatos for the Rebbe being taken and the handing out of Pesach guides and over 4000 matzos.
By the end of the day, we can proudly say we gave the Rebbe a special birthday present. May all the souls that were touched and actions that were done be the zechus and the final brick to build the 3rd Beis Hamikdash and bring Moshiach now.
A special thank you goes out to the LA community who embraced the idea and helped make it happen: Cheder Menachem, Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon, drivers, designers, arrangers, and mostly the kinderlach for taking on their duty as the Rebbe’s soldiers.