Sarasota Jewish organizations met in solidarity with Ukraine during a rally at Temple Beth Shalom on March 22.
The event — put together by Temple Beth Sholom, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee and the Sarasota-Manatee Board of Rabbis — included community members from Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee assembling in support of Ukraine and its Jewish population as the war with Russia continues.
Many condemned the actions of the Russian government while pleading for mercy and support for both Ukrainian and Russia's Jewish communities.
The ongoing war deeply upset Rabbi Stuart Altshuler with Temple Beth Shalom, who made multiple trips to Ukraine in the 1990s to work with Jewish organizations.
"A lot of our people have come from Ukraine," Altshuler said. "The Jewish history in Ukraine goes back to the 16th century. … We're scared. We're scared for the whole world."
Altshuler led the crowd in singing and praying for Ukrainians as the sun set.
At one point the audience heard from Lara Kozik, an Ukrainian citizen who fled with her family. She and her family members are now staying with a friend in Sarasota.
"Unfortunately, we had to leave our country when the war began," Kozik said. "Our friends and lives are still there. We're praying for all of them. We're feeling better that we are safe, and we feel so much support."