(JTA) — President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, will visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday in the wake of the synagogue shooting that killed 11 worshippers.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the announcement at a news briefing Monday.
The Trumps will “express the support of the American people and grieve with the Pittsburgh community,” Sanders said.
“The president cherishes the American-Jewish community for everything it stands for and contributes to our country. He adores Jewish Americans as part of his own family. The president is the grandfather of several Jewish children. His daughter is a Jewish American and his son-in-law is a descendant of Holocaust survivors,” she also said.
Trump is arriving on the same day that funerals for the Tree of Life victims begin.
Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, rabbi of the Tree of Life Congregation, told CNN that Trump is “always welcome.”
“I’m a citizen. He’s my president. He’s certainly welcome,” the rabbi said.
In contrast, the 11 members of the Pittsburgh chapter of Bend the Arc, a Jewish liberal social justice group, wrote in an open letter to Trump that he was not welcome in Pittsburgh.
“For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” the letter said. “You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.”
The letter said Trump was not welcome in the city until he “fully denounce(s) white nationalism”; “stop(s) targeting and endangering all minorities”; and “commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.”
Nearly 40,000 had signed the letter, posted on the Bend the Arc website, as of Monday afternoon.