Tree of Life synagogue Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said he was “pleasantly surprised” by President Donald Trump’s warmth and compassion during his visit to Pittsburgh, on CNN’s “New Day” Thursday.
“I was privileged to have a private 15 or 20 minutes with the [Trump] family. The president was very warm, very consoling,” Myers said.
“He put his hand on my shoulder and the first question he asked me was, ‘Rabbi, tell me how are you doing?’ And I must say 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,” he continued.
Myers said he told the president Tuesday about his ordeal and said they discussed the issue of hate speech, along with other personal matters.
“I told my personal story of my experience, which they found quite shocking and upsetting,” he said.
“We talked. I shared the same message that I 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,” the rabbi said. “And we shared other personal conversation that I’d respectfully like to keep personal.”
Myers said it was important to walk the president through a memorial so he could know who was taken and fully understand how devastating the Saturday shooting was on the community.
“I have been through this a few times. I don’t know how people would react to see that horror. It’s seared in my brain and it’s a sight I’ll never forget the rest of my life,” Myers said, adding:
After we lit the 11 memorial candles, I chanted … the memorial prayer in Hebrew and in English. The president then asked me if I would escort he and the first lady to the makeshift memorial … and I gave him a bit of a background story about each person because it was a human being who lived, who was a good, decent person and the president needed to know something about these people because they, too, were his citizens.
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