The executive director of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., is contesting President Biden’s claim that he visited the synagogue after a white supremacist shot and killed eleven worshippers in October 2018.
Biden claimed to have visited the synagogue in the wake of the attack during a Thursday Zoom call marking the Jewish High Holidays.
“I remember spending time at the — you know, going to the — you know, the Tree of Life Synagogue, speaking with the — just — it just is amazing these things are happening — happening in America,” Biden said, according to a White House transcript of the call sent to reporters.
Barb Feige, who became executive director of the synagogue in 2019, told the New York Post that Biden has not visited since the attack took place. The White House claimed on Friday that Biden referred to a phone call with the rabbi of the Tree of Life Synagogue in 2019, in a statement to CNN.
White House says Biden was referring to a 2019 phone call with Tree of Life’s rabbi; the rabbi says in a statement that Biden conveyed condolences and support, and it meant a lot.
Still, Biden’s comments about “spending time at” and “going to” the synagogue were not true.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) September 3, 2021
About 1,000 rabbis and Jewish community leaders from across the U.S. participated in the call on Thursday
The shooting was the deadliest anti-Jewish attack in U.S. history. Biden said on the call that “the attack in Pittsburgh, those attacks — all anti-Semitic attacks — aren’t just a strike against the Jewish community; they’re a strike against the soul of our nation and the values which we say we stand for.”
Biden also mentioned his own connections to American Jews, noting that his daughter has a Jewish husband.
“My daughter married a Jewish young man. And — you know, dream of every — every Catholic father that she marry a Jewish doctor,” Biden joked.