The Two Holocaust Survivors Trump Mentioned During The State Of The Union

Judah Samet responds after President Donald Trump recognized him during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Samet survived the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Ricky Carioti
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President Donald Trump Tuesday night mentioned one of the White House’s special State of the Union guests, an 81-year-old Holocaust survivor who escaped death again last fall — narrowly — at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Judah Samet, whose birthday was Tuesday, was four minutes late for worship one Saturday last October, missing one of the deadliest attacks ever on American Jews.

“Of course, I am very honored,” Samet told the Tribune-Review of the congressional appearance. “[Trump] invited me, I was told, because I represented two of the biggest tragedies for the Jewish people in the last hundred years.”

Samet escaped death more than 70 years ago in Germany’s Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. As estimated 50,000 people, including the child diarist Anne Frank, died in the camp, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Before the camp was liberated by the British forces in April 1945, Samet’s family boarded a train, along with about 2,500 others, intended for Theresienstadt concentration camp but liberated by American troops before it reached its destination. His family was from Hungary.

“I’m basically a very strong person, and I went through a lot, but nothing, nothing ever defeated me,” Samet said, the Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker reported in October. “In the camp, I was out all the time. I found a friend. My brothers were in the bunk. My mother couldn’t hold me in.”

Samet has been a member of the conservative congregation for 54 years, he said. For four decades, he was a part-time cantor, chanting prayers and helping to lead worship.

On Saturday morning, he did what he always does on the Sabbath – he went to the synagogue. Services start at 9:45 a.m. Yet that morning, Samet was delayed.

“I was talking to my housekeeper here; she comes once a week,” he said in a phone conversation from his condominium, where he lives alone. He needs only a few minutes to drive the leafy streets to his synagogue in Squirrel Hill, the nucleus of Jewish Pittsburgh. “I was four minutes late. Instead of 9:45, I got there about 9:49, maybe 9:50.”

Those four minutes may have saved his life, Stanley-Becker reported.

He entered the parking lot and was pulling into a handicapped spot when someone knocked on his window. A man dressed in black advised him to back out carefully.

“He said there was an active shooting going on inside the synagogue,” Samet recalled then.

Having lived through the Holocaust, he said, “It’s almost like, ‘Here we go again.’ We’re now more than 70 years away from it, and here it happens all over again.”

Trump also honored the visit Tuesday of Pittsburgh Police Officer Timothy Matson.

Some of the president’s supporters see him as a champion for Jewish safety by his policies supporting the Israeli government, and his forceful critique of certain governments, including Iran.

“We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants Death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish People,” Trump said Tuesday night. He also drew some applause when he said he had “recognized the true capital [of Israel] and proudly recognized the embassy in Jerusalem.”

The president’s Jewish critics, however, believe his hesitance to speak out on white nationalism has led to a surge in hate crimes against religious minorities.


  1. Yidden! Support and vote for DemoncRATs because they promise to line your pockets and then they will turn on you. It happens over and over and over but our “(Tr)ashkanim” tell us who to vote for so that they can save or make a few bucks. What a system for fools.

  2. Boruch Hashem!! What a Nes that Mr. Samet was thus saved!!

    It is well known that in the massive attacks of 9/11 (2001), there are numerous similar stories of numerous people who were saved in that same type of way. For example, that morning, a man sees that it is now time for him to leave his house to go to his job at his office in the World Trade Center. However, his wife tells him that they need (for example) more milk and thus asks him to then please go to the nearby grocery store and purchase a new carton of milk. So, instead of going right then to his job, he first takes about 20 minutes to go to the grocery store and buy the milk and bring it back to his wife at the house. After finishing that, only THEN does he go to his office at the World Trade Center for his job.

    Another man also sees that it is now time for him to leave his house to go to his job at his office in the World Trade Center. However, his daughter had, had trouble with doing one her school’s homework assignments and, at that moment, thus asks her father to please help her with the difficult work. So, instead of going right then to his job, he first sits down for about 20 minutes with his daughter to look over the assignment material and help her figure out what needs to be done. After finishing that, only THEN does he go to his office at the World Trade Center for his job.

    When these two men, and many, many others like them, now finally arrive at the WTC complex, it is a good 20 minutes later than the times that they usually arrive on all other days. On this particular morning though, when they are still a number of blocks away, they already hear the non-stopping shrills of blaring sirens, are passed by countless police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles, and see the weird colored haze of the sick revolting smoke.

    A few moments later, they quickly learn that in those over 20 minutes that they were not there yet, the two hijacked planes had smashed into the two WTC towers where they (hitherto had) worked!


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