A rally for peace in Ukraine was held at the Temple Emanu-el of Long Beach on Monday.  Credit: Howard Simmons

Local leaders and community members of different races and faiths gathered Monday night inside a Long Beach temple to show support for Ukraine in its ongoing effort to repel Russia's invasion.

A group of about 200 gathered inside Temple Emanu-El of Long Beach, with the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag draping the front of a podium facing them.

Many chanted "No to war." And an attendee who was alive the last time world war raged in Europe worried about a repeat more than 70 years later.

"I cry a lot and I remember our war," said Long Beach resident Aija Dorsey, 83, referring to World War II.

Dorsey, who emigrated from Latvia — like Ukraine, formerly part of the then-Soviet Union — to Germany and later to the United States, held a sign that included the colors of Ukraine's flag and the message, "Latvia for free Ukraine."

"We may be next, our country," said Dorsey, a retired home care worker. "I hope it ends. If I were younger, I would fight."

Monday night's event, entitled, "Rally for Peace in Ukraine," was coordinated by the temple in collaboration with local organizations as a way to "show our unity, to demonstrate our support for Ukraine" while "hoping to inspire and motivate" to do something, said Rabbi Jack Zanerhaft. Local sponsors included the city of Long Beach and the Long Beach Latino Civic Association.

Attendees Monday night at Temple Emanu-El of Long Beach. 

Attendees Monday night at Temple Emanu-El of Long Beach.  Credit: Howard Simmons

It came nearly two weeks into the war, which began Feb. 24 after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the country's military to invade Ukraine.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, who attended the rally, called the "senseless bombing of innocent people" in Ukraine "murder."

"We have to fight against evil," he said.

While Zanerhaft, whose parents survived the Holocaust, said there are Ukrainians of the Jewish faith, but what’s happening in the country is actually "a universal crisis."

"Everyone is entitled to justice, liberty, freedom and democracy," he said.

Long Islanders have come together to help people in Ukraine through donations, whether it's clothing, medical supplies or monetary. Officials at the rally hoped to help as well.

"We will be connecting with some local and nationally Ukrainian civic associations to develop a drop-off point in Long Beach, a collection point for actual items in need for the refugees in their various places," said Zanerhaft.

Non-Ukrainians including citizens of the Mideast, Asia and Africa who are fleeing the country have also told The Associated Press they experienced mistreatment. Cedrick Coad, chairman of the Long Beach Martin Luther King Center, said being at the rally meant to shed some light on those communities affected by the invasion.

"There’s a bunch of people that’s being affected by this, not only just people in Ukraine," Coad said. "It’s more to come spread some awareness to see how we can all help come together to support everybody that’s going through troubled times over there."

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