PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The Tree of Life tragedy touched the hearts of people across the country and for weeks drew crowds of people wanting to pay respects in person. However, President Joe Biden is coming under harsh criticism after claims he was one of those people.
President Biden is coming under fire on the internet for comments he made during a virtual White House call regarding the Jewish High Holidays.
The president discussed the importance of the Jewish holidays, specifically Rosh Hashanah, which begins this coming Monday. During his remarks, the president insinuated he made a visit to Pittsburgh following the Tree of Life tragedy.
He said: "I remember spending time at the -- you know -- going to the -- you know -- the Tree of Life synagogue -- speaking with the --." He never said who he spoke with specifically, and many critics argue the president was never there following the incident.
In a statement, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers from the Tree of Life said in a statement that they had a phone conversation sometime in 2019 a year after the incident. He said Biden extended his condolences and asked how everyone was doing. The two also apparently discussed antisemitism and how Biden would address it once he took office. Rabbi Myers said the conversation meant a great deal to him, but also never confirmed or denied President Biden's physical presence at the synagogue.
"It speaks more to where we are as a society in politics," said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. "It's everybody looking for that 'gotcha' moment to be able to try and put their own type of belief into a perspective that they can place their hat on a hook," said Peduto.
Peduto went on to stress people should focus more on the fact that Biden did reach out -- whether in-person or not -- during a time when he was not holding office, just as an individual.
The White House has not responded to KDKA's request for comment on the matter.
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