He’s faced death twice. Both times, he’s survived.
Judah Samet, 80, narrowly escaped death more than 70 years ago in Germany’s Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, according to The Washington Post. He faced the same ghastly reality Saturday morning.
After World War II, Samet fled to the U.S., leaving behind his native Hungary. He almost died over the weekend, during a deadly shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, where he’s worshipped for 54 years, when the suspected gunman, who “wanted all Jews to die,” killed 11 people.
Saturday’s massacre marked the deadliest attack against Jewish people in U.S. history.
Touching scene outstanding Tree of Life Synagogue as volunteers help carry 11 large Stars of David w/ names of those who were killed in Saturday’s attack to a growing vigil in front of the synagogue. #FoxNews #PittsburghSynagogue #PittsburghStrong pic.twitter.com/EV8vhTmUGJ
— Garrett Tenney (@Garrett_FoxNews) October 28, 2018
“I survived the second time yesterday,” Samet said, noting the violence against Jewish people “never stops.”
The Holocaust survivor told the Post he never used to talk about his experiences, and the certain death he escaped. Then several years ago, “I looked around and noticed that most survivors were in their 90s, and that pretty soon, there wouldn’t be anyone else in Pittsburgh to talk.”
Samet was prepared, like he is every Saturday morning, to go to the synagogue. Services start at 9:45 a.m., but Samet was running late.
“I was talking to my housekeeper here,” he recalled. “She comes once a week. I was four minutes late. Instead of 9:45, I got there about 9:49, maybe 9:50.”
It only takes Samet a few minutes to drive to his synagogue.
Once he arrived, Samet pulled into a handicap parking spot, when someone knocked on his window, telling him to back out slowly and leave the facility. Samet said the man, dressed in black, told him there was an active shooter in the synagogue.
“I wanted to see who was shooting,” he said, noting the gunman had emerged from the synagogue and was in the midst of a “shootout with police, then he went back and finished the job in my synagogue.”
It was at that point Samet realized he was “in the line of fire.”
Once he got home, Samet turned on Fox News, where he saw a phone number flash across the screen. He picked up his phone and called investigators, giving them a description of the suspected attacker.
— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) October 29, 2018
Samet ultimately landed in Pittsburgh because of his late wife, who was a teacher. Now, in addition to being the place where he found love, it’s also the place where he escaped death.
“It’s almost like, ‘Here we go again,’” Samet said. “We’re now more than 70 years away from it, and here it happens all over again.”
As for President Donald Trump, Samet doesn’t see an issue with his nationalistic ideology. Samet, a proud American, said the U.S. “comes first.”
“Israel is important,” he clarified, “but since I’ve been living here all this time, I’m very patriotic.”