Trump 'Remembers Lives Tragically Taken in Pittsburgh' in Hanukkah Message

U.S. president pledges support for the victims and their families. Pompeo: 'This holiday marks victory for religious freedom' ■ Canada's Trudeau: 'We cannot waver in defending dignity'

File photo: Memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue, Pittsburgh, October 29, 2018,
Brendan Smialowski/AFP

The office of U.S. President Donald Trump released Sunday a Hanukkah greeting from the president and his wife Melania wishing their "warmest greetings to our Jewish brothers and sisters in the United States, in Israel, and around the world."

The statement referenced the continual threats Jewish people have faced since the time of the first Hanukkah. According to the statement, "Jews today continue to face many different forms of violence, hatred, and bigotry around the globe."

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"We remember all those from the Tree of Life—Or L’Simcha Congregation—whose lives were tragically taken in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this past October," the statement said.

Trump came under fire for his response to the deadly synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead after telling reporters, "This is a case where, if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately. Maybe there would have been nobody killed, except for him, frankly."

Hundreds of protestors criticized Trump's rhetoric when he arrived to the Tree of Life synagogue to pay respect to the victims.

The Hanukkah statement continued by pledging love and support for the victims and their families and said that the president and his wife "pray that the victims' families find some measure of peace and comfort during this holiday season."

"Together, we reaffirm the truth that light will always break through the darkness," the statement read.

The FBI released a report in November that said anti-Jewish hate crimes in the U.S. rose by 37 percent in 2017.

Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and their three children are Jewish.

File photo: Israeli PM Netanyahu, Canadian PM Trudeau and Moroccan King Mohammed VI attend ceremonies at the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, November 11, 2018.
Francois Mori/AP

The office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also released an official statement for Hanukkah. "Hanukkah is a time to reflect on the profound resilience of the Jewish people and their triumph over exile, persecution, and unspeakable suffering," the statement said.

"Generation after generation of Jewish Canadians have dedicated themselves to serving their communities and their country, and standing up for the values that unite us," Trudeau added. "They remind us that we are all custodians of Canada’s character, and that we cannot waver in defending the dignity and rights of others."

>> Read more: A month after Pittsburgh tragedy, no sign of bold steps by Trump to fight anti-Semitism ■ Jews thrived on insulting each other. Now toxic discourse is tearing them apart, Tablet editor says

According to data made public last week, hate crimes against Jews in Canada have spiked 60 percent since last year, making them the most targeted minority group in the country for the second straight year.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added in a Hanukkah message posted on social media that "This holiday marks a historic victory for religious freedom." 

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz referred to Israel's control over the West Bank and said: "This holiday celebrates the heroic revolt and triumph of the Maccabees, who liberated the historic land of Judea, rededicated the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and restored the right to worship freely."

"It is fitting that this year Hanukkah comes against the backdrop of the one-year anniversary of the United States acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and it will also be the first Hanukkah since we moved our embassy to its rightful place there," added Cruz.