Jeffrey Myers, the rabbi of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, in his sermon on Saturday blamed hate speech for the massacre last weekend that lead to the deaths of 11 people, seven of whom were his congregants, CNN is reporting. Before giving his sermon to the congregation, he said, he gave the same message to Donald Trump.
Wearing a rainbow-colored prayer shawl, perhaps in a nod to the LGBTQ community, and wearing a Pittsburgh-themed yarmulke, Myers Delivered his first Shabbat homily since last Saturday’s deadly shooting. During the sermon, Myers told the congregation that a rise in “hateful rhetoric” led to the massacre.
“The scourge of anti-Semitism cannot be ignored, cannot be tolerated and cannot be allowed to continue.”
Before delivering his message to the congregation, Myers says, he met personally with Donald Trump and gave him the exact same message.
“I said to him, ‘Mr. President, hate speech leads to hateful actions. Hate speech leads to what happened in my sanctuary, where seven of my congregants were slaughtered. I witnessed it with my eyes.'”
Myers didn’t say what, if anything, Trump purportedly said to him in response.
The Tree of Life rabbi has generated some criticism from some within Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, and from the community at large, for meeting with Trump.
Jeffrey Myers, rabbi of the Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 people were killed in a mass shooting, is calling on politicians to tone down hate-filled rhetoric https://t.co/KYmCOltBDX pic.twitter.com/g21iHGK33p— CNN (@CNN) October 30, 2018
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Trump found himself largely without allies when it came to his Pittsburgh visit following the Tree of Life shooting. Several Pittsburgh city leaders, Pennsylvania elected officials (from both parties), and even Congressional leaders from both parties, declined to join Trump when he visited the city, as did the families of some of the victims.
The reasons for this were varied; some were offended by Trump’s suggestion that an armed guard at the synagogue would have prevented the shooting. Others blamed Trump, directly or indirectly, for the rise in hate crimes and violence in which the shooting occurred.
Myers, however, said he would welcome the president to the city and looked forward to the opportunity to meet him.
Myers later said that he caught hell for that meeting from some within the community, saying that some accused him of “going to the dark side,” and at least one saying that he should be (metaphorically) “un-circumcised.” Myers laughed that off.
“I said, ‘OK, you go first.'”
Myers also referenced a previous act of religious violence, saying that he was visited by an angel, the Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a traditionally black church where a white gunman killed nine attendees in 2015.