PITTSBURGH – Jeffrey Myers, the Pittsburgh rabbi who watched as 11 of his congregants were gunned down during Saturday services, says he has become a political target and is receiving hate mail for saying he would welcome President Trump to his place of prayer.
And he’s not the only one.
Brothers David and Cecil Rosenthal were murdered in the shootout are being laid to rest Tuesday. Both lived with disabilities and received help from ACHIEVA, which operates a community home.
The Pittsburgh-based organization told reporters they received three phone calls today from an unidentified man who was swearing and angry at them. While ACHIEVA would not elaborate on what exactly the caller said, they did tell reporters it was “anti-Jewish” and “pro-Trump.”
The organization says it has notified police and plans to beef up security.
“It is just continuous in this vicious cycle. Hate promulgating more hate promulgating more hate,” Myers told CNN Tuesday. “We need to be better than this, we can be better than this.”
Though he has no plans to meet Trump, Myers implored politicians to tone down the polarizing rhetoric.
“Hate is not blue, hate is not red, hate is not purple… hate is in all,” Myers said. “Speak words of love, speak words of decency and of respect. When the message comes loud and clear, Americans will hear that and we can begin to change the tenor of our country.”
Myers was at the Squirrel Hill synagogue Saturday when shots rang out.
"I heard him execute my congregants," Myers said.
The White House announced Monday that Trump and the First Lady would visit Pittsburgh Tuesday afternoon. Myers faced backlash after telling reporters “the President of the United States is always welcome.”
“I’m a citizen. He’s my president. He is certainly welcome,” Myers said.
Not everyone shared the sentiment.
William Peduto, Pittsburgh's Democratic mayor, warned the visit would be a “distraction” and pull focus from the funerals of the 11 worshippers who were gunned down during the weekend massacre.
“If the president is looking to come to Pittsburgh, I would ask that he not do so while we are burying the dead,” Peduto said.
Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor also believes Trump should postpone his trip and said the city’s “hearts and minds are going to be on the victims” and not wrapped up in a “national distraction.”
Prominent Pittsburgh Republican Jim Roddey told NBC-affiliate WPXI that Trump needs to steer clear of any political talk when he visits.
“(Trump) has been active in the midterms…and I hope he’s not going to come here and have a rally. That’s not what the city needs. It’s not what the people want.”
Pittsburgh native Nelson Suter told Fox News he wishes Trump would postpone his visit.
“He’s only coming here to use us for political gain,” Suter said. “Let us grieve. Give us this moment. Don’t make it all about yourself for once.”
Police arrested alleged gunman Robert Bowers, 46. He faces 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation in addition to federal counts that include weapons offenses and hate crime charges. Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty against him.