Several members of Brooklyn's Jewish community gathered Sunday evening to pay tribute to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Many of the speakers and guests at the service held by the Russian American Jewish Experience's office in Brighton Beach said they were saddened by the passing of the 85-year-old former general because of his decades of influence in the country.

Rabbi Mordechai Tokarsky, the group's co-founder, said even though Sharon has been heavily criticized in many quarters, he did his best to make sure his fellow Israelis were safe.

"It is time for the Jewish community to get up and understand that man," he said.

The group played a video that outlined the life and times of Sharon, from his days as a military leader, to his election in 2001 and finally his stroke in 2006 that left him in a coma until Saturday.

Rabbi Aryeh Katzin, the educational director for the group, noted that Sharon was the son of Russian immigrants and members of the Brooklyn Russian Jewish community admired his work for decades.

"Children of immigrants can relate to his journey," he said.