Dear Rabbi Myers,
Please accept my condolences on the terrible murders of your congregants and fellow Jews this past Shabbat.
I want to express my deep admiration and appreciation of your gracious welcome to President Donald Trump, his family and aides when they visited you and your Beit K’nesset this past Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
I saw your first reaction in a CNN interview on Sunday to the question of whether you would welcome a visit by the President. Without hesitation, you affirmed that you are “an American and he is my president” and therefore you would extend respect and honor to him.
I know that you were challenged by many for taking this noble stand and I was happy, grateful and proud that you stood by your first instinct and welcomed the President’s visit.
This past Shabbat, the public chanting of the Torah portion of Vayera was tragically not heard in the Tree of Life synagogue sanctuary. Vayera (“and the Lord appeared”) begins with Abraham turning his attention from God to welcoming three visiting angels – God’s messengers. This teaches us, according to the Rabbis of the Talmud, that showing respect and concern for visitors, even when you yourself are in pain, is a value more supreme than communing with the Lord.
To Abraham and Sarah, the angels Michael and Raphael brought messages of comfort and glad tidings for the future. The angel Gabriel was tasked with a mission to destroy evil.
I believe that the President and his family, in visiting you when you were (and are still) engulfed in pain and grief, brought these same messages for you and your congregation.
They came to console and comfort you. They came to foster hope for the Jewish future in America. They came to assure you that your country and those that serve her, will not rest in the never-ending war to eradicate those consumed with evil anti-Jewish hatred.
And, you, like our father Abraham, humbly welcomed those messages with grace.
And you also, like Abraham, asked that mercy and temperance be remembered by those whose task it is to bring justice to America and the world.
May all the affected families, the members of your congregation, and you, Rabbi Myers, be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.