News and Commentary

Tree Of Life Rabbi Sees A ‘Warm And Personal Side’ To Trump During Meeting

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, head of the Tree of Life synagogue where 11 innocent Jewish Americans were gunned down this past week by a white supremacist, says he was “pleasantly surprised” by President Trump’s warmth during their meeting this week.

Speaking with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Myers recalled his meeting with President Trump, which began with an introduction by Ambassador Ron Dermer of Israel.

“I was introduced by Ambassador Ron Dermer from Israel to the President and the First Lady and to Jared and Ivanka,” Myers told Bash. “As we shook hands, I escorted the family into the Tree of Life. I was privileged to have a private 15 or 20 minutes with the family. The president was very warm, very consoling. He put his hand on my shoulder and the first question he asked me was, ‘Rabbi, tell how you are doing?’”

Myers admitted that this warm, consoling attitude from President Trump took him by surprise, commenting that it’s not a side many Americans often see.

“I must say that throughout the time we spent together, I was pleasantly surprised by a warm and personal side to the president that I don’t think America has ever seen,” added Myers.

After a pause from Camerota, the rabbi continued to recall his rather pleasant experience with the president, which began with a candlelighting and transitioned to a laying of stones on the makeshift memorial outside. Full transcript:

I told my personal story of my experience, which they found quite shocking and upsetting. We talked, I’ve shared my same message that I’ve shared with you throughout the course of the week; that hate speech has no place in our society, that hate speech leads to actions of hate, hate speech led to the death of seven of my congregants and 11 total in my building and we shared other personal conversation that I would, respectfully, like to keep personal.

We lit 11 memorial candles in our large sanctuary because the chapel is still a crime scene and is not available. Honestly, I’ve been through it a few times, I don’t how it would be for people to see that horror. It’s seared in my brain and it’s a sight I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.

So, after we lit the 11 memorial candles, I chanted as I’ve done at all the funerals so far in Hebrew and in English. The President then asked if I would escort him and the First Lady to the makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life. The President placed a stone on each monument, the First Lady a white rose. I gave him a background story about each person because there was a human being who lived, who was a good, decent person, and the President needed to know something about these people. They too were his citizens.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers has been consistently baited by the media to condemn President Trump in wake of the attack, even though the shooter was not an avowed Trump supporter, not to mention the fact that President Trump has been quite strong on Israel.

In another interview with Alisyn Camerota this week, the CNN host tried to get some negative words out of the rabbi regarding the president and failed.

“I don’t really foist blame upon any person,” Myers said. “Hate does not know religion, race, creed, political party. It’s not a political issue in any way, shape, or form. Hate does not know any of those things.”

Rabbi Myers also claims he has been receiving death threats for welcoming President Trump at the synagogue.