The rabbi for Tree of Life Synagogue — which was the site of worst anti-Semitic attack in United States history last weekend — says he's received death threats from people angry that he welcomed President Donald Trump to Pittsburgh to attend a memorial service for his slain congregants.
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers led services at an interfaith vigil Sunday evening for the 11 members of his own synagogue who perished in the attack, which took place while he was leading his own congregation in prayer. He had "just begun Saturday morning service," the Daily Beast reported," when a gunman burst through the doors screaming, 'all Jews must die,'" and opened fire.
But despite the tragedy he'd only just watched unfold, Myers says he became the victim of new attacks, this time, reaming him out for daring to suggest President Donald Trump was welcome at the Tree of Life synagogue and encouraging the President to visit Pittsburgh for the memorial.
On Monday, CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota tried to goad Myers into blaming Trump's "rhetoric" for inspiring the gunman who launched the attack, and pressed Myers to disavow Trump, who then planned to visit Pittsburgh Tuesday.
Myers responded that "I don’t really foist blame upon any person," and, of the president said, “The President of the United States is always welcome. I am a citizen, he is my president. He is always welcome.”
That was enough to anger the president's opponents who, according to Myers, unleashed a torrent of hate in the rabbi's email inbox.
"When I first said that the president was welcome, I’ve received a lot of emails, too numerous to count, I’ve received many that are not happy with those words," he told CNN Wednesday morning, according to the Daily Mail. "Those emails also contain hate. It just continues in this vicious cycle. We need to be better than this."
"We can be better than this," he added.
Inside Edition reported Wednesday morning that some of those emails contained death threats, though that hasn't been independently confirmed.
President Trump and his family — including his wife Melania, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner — paid their respects to victims of the massacre on Tuesday afternoon, even though Pittsburgh's mayor, fearing violent protests, urged the president to stay away.
"I do believe that it would be best to put the attention on families this week and if he were to visit, choose a different time to do it," Pittsburgh's Democratic mayor, Bill Peduto, told CNN Monday afternoon.
Trump's visit ended up being mostly peaceful, except for a handful of protesters who were kept well away from the cameras and at a significant distance from the president. The president and his family indeed met with Rabbi Myers and spoke briefly.
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers speaks with President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Steven Mnuchin outside of Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill on Oct. 30, 2018. pic.twitter.com/qkG6LG7Z1w— Nate Smallwood (@nsmallwoodphoto) October 30, 2018
The Rabbi also guided the president and his family through a makeshift memorial of white gravestones, erected just outside the Tree of Life Synagogue.
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers greets President Donald Trump outside of Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill on Oct. 30, 2018. pic.twitter.com/66LxkcWVHA— Nate Smallwood (@nsmallwoodphoto) October 30, 2018
The perpetrator, a man previously unknown to law enforcement, but an open anti-Semite who regularly posted messages of hatred on the Twitter-alternative site, Gab, is in federal custody. He has already been charged with at least 25 criminal counts, as well as 26 Federal accounts, including civil rights violations.