Attendees display signs and chant during a rally and vigil...

Attendees display signs and chant during a rally and vigil for Israel and the return of the hostages at Plainview-Old Bethpage Community Park on Sunday. Credit: Jeff Bachner

The parents of Omer Neutra, an Israeli soldier believed to have been kidnapped by terrorist group Hamas, were surrounded by supporters Sunday, as hundreds rallied at Plainview-Old Bethpage Community Park. 

Chants of "bring them home" rang through the park as local officials demanded the return of dozens of hostages who were taken during the Oct. 7 attack in Israel that led to a war, which has left over 9,700 Palestinians dead, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, and more than 1,400 people in Israel dead, according to Israeli authorities. Both totals include many civilians.

Shirley Rodkin, 70, of Plainview, said some of her family lives in Israel and she was at the event to show support.

"It's important to show the world that Israel is not alone," she said. "I want peace for everybody."

Throughout the event, people passionately chanted "Bring Omer home," to support his parents on the stage. His mother, Orna Neutra, wore a shirt with the Plainview native's face. 

In the early portion of the rally, a choir of local students performed Israel's national anthem, which was echoed passionately by hundreds of people in the crowd. 

Some on the chilly fall night wore Israeli flags around their shoulders, while others waved them over the crowd. The rally also served as a candlelight vigil for the victims of the ongoing war. 

Rabbi Joel Levinson of the Midway Jewish Center in Syosset spoke about unity, the need to release the hostages and a desire for peace.

"Tonight we say no to terror and yes to peace," he said onstage. "We feel the urgency. We need to bring Omer home."

About 240 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by Hamas.

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino led the rally and expressed his desire to end hatred.

"A big part of our mission here tonight is to educate our neighbors, friends, children, their friends," he said. "As we see our hatred, we know that we must work together to end all hatred." 

Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly also spoke at the event and touched on the growing number of antisemitic incidents on Long Island.

"Crimes like that have no place in Nassau County," she said. "I will bring all people who violate such laws to justice."

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