Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Meet Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, The ‘Adopted Jew’ Who’s Leading Resistance To Trump

Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh, could be easily be mistaken for a Jew in the right setting. Lately he has sported a white beard with horn-rimmed glasses; his penchant for puns and jokes is well-known.

And for Peduto, the murder of 11 congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday was more than a trauma for his city — it was personal because, he says, he was “adopted by the Jewish community.”

“I feel a personal bond through the friendships that I have been able to build over the past couple of decades, and I feel a personal loss about what happened on Saturday,” Peduto told the Forward on Monday.

Before becoming mayor in 2014, Peduto represented a large chunk of the city’s Jewish community in the city council. For 12 years, he was the councilman for the 8th district, which includes Squirrel Hill, where the Saturday shooting occurred. The neighborhood is home to 40% of the city’s Jewish community, according to a 2017 Brandeis study.

“The Jewish community is the backbone,” Peduto said of Squirrel Hill at a news conference on Sunday. “It is part of the fabric of Pittsburgh and we will be there in all communities to help our friends in the Jewish community.”

Peduto has positioned himself as a vocal member of the “resistance” against Trump. In recent days, Peduto has publicly pushed back against Trump’s stated plans to visit Pittsburgh Tuesday. Speaking to reporters Monday, he said Trump should consider “the will of the families” of the victims before deciding to come, and that he should not come “while we are burying the dead.

Peduto has spent the days since the shooting visiting with different parts of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community. On Monday afternoon, he visited an Orthodox school that is about a 15 minute walk from the Tree of Life synagogue. He met with students of different age groups, and explained to children at recess why there were now policeman stationed at their school.

“I want to teach him a lesson,” one girl said to him.

“We will,” Peduto responded.

Correction, 10/30/18, 12:00 p.m.— This article has been updated with a quote from Peduto. A previous quote mistakenly attributed to Peduto has been removed.

Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.