Obama “offered his profound condolences and condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack that took his life,” a senior administration official told JTA.
Schwartz, 18, was spending a gap year in Israel studying at a yeshiva, where Jews engage in religious study.
Obama stressed to Schwartz’s parents “that Ezra’s studies in Israel strengthened the bonds between Israel and the United States and, as we mourn his death, those bonds only grow stronger,” the official said.
The State Department condemned the attack one day after it occurred, but some critics argued Obama had not done enough to publicly acknowledge Schwartz’s death.
“It seemed that neither the president nor his senior aides appreciate how devastating this particular attack was to the American Jewish community – and their slow, and still insufficient, response proves that,” Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center said in a statement Tuesday after the White House publicized Obama’s call.
Secretary of State John Kerry, a former Massachusetts senator, said he also phoned Schwartz’s parents.
“Just yesterday, I talked to the family of Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, a young man who came here out of high school ready to go to college, excited about his future,” he said Tuesday before a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Yesterday, his family was sitting at shiva and I talked to them and heard their feelings, the feelings of any parent who lost their child.”
This story was updated at 4:18 p.m.