‘It is a beautiful place:’ Sheepshead Bay synagogue joins in prayer for Ukraine at peace vigil

Rabbi Asher Alisher leads congregants in prayer for Ukraine at the Synagogue-Congregation Beth Shalom of Kings Bay on Feb. 24.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

As bombs continue to drop over Ukraine, Brooklynites are coming together to show support for those impacted, and on Thursday night, members of a Sheepshead Bay synagogue gathered in prayer for the country and it natives.

Rabbi Asher Alisher led the Synagogue-Congregation Beth Shalom of Kings Bay in prayer on Feb. 24, one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full military invasion of Ukraine.

“We must pray for the change that we want to see,” Rabbi Alisher said, noting that, as of the service, at least 50 Ukranians had been killed in the battle thus far. That number climbed to 137 Friday morning.

Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

In just two days, troops have already decimated major cities and occupied Ukrainian sovereign territory. Much of southern Brooklyn’s Ukrainian population, many of whom still have family and friends living in their home land, are desperately trying to reach loved ones.

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a new round of sanctions on Russia, though it remains unclear how this will impact the regent.

Early Friday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered males from the ages of 18 to 60 to stay and fight for their country. 

The Brooklyn vigil came just hours after hundreds of demonstrators — including Ukrainians from diasporic population centers in southern Brooklyn neighborhoods like Sheepshead and Brighton Beach, and the East Village in Manhattan — marched from Times Square to the Upper East Side calling for an end to the war.

Standing under a sign that read, “In memory of our fallen Israel soldiers,” Rabbi Alisher reflected on the country, which he himself has ties to.

“I met my wife in Kyiv,” he said of the Ukrainian capital. “It is a beautiful place.”

Additional reporting by Ben Brachfeld