Holocaust survivor who barely missed synagogue massacre: ‘It just never ends’
A Holocaust survivor cheated death on Saturday by running five minutes late to services at the Pittsburgh synagogue where a gunman killed 11 people.
Judah Samet, 80, was late to the Tree of Life synagogue because he stopped to chat with his housekeeper before heading to services.
Samet, who survived 10 months in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during World War II, told media outlets that he pulled into the synagogue’s parking lot at about 9:50 a.m. — minutes after gunman Robert Bowers opened fire in the building.
When Samet stopped his car, someone knocked on his window and warned him about the shooter. “He told me, ‘There’s a shooting inside your synagogue,’” Samet told USA Today.
He then saw a police officer “popping his head out from behind a wall” and exchange fire with the gunman, he said.
“He was shooting towards the cop, who was about four feet away from me,” Samet told The Forward. “I saw smoking coming out of his muzzle. I was in the line of fire.”
Samet, a former soldier in the Israeli Army, said he wasn’t scared by the gunfire — and continued to peek out of his car window during the gunfight.
He eventually drove home when the gunman stopped firing and went back into the building.
Samet told The Forward that he’s a longtime member of the congregation and knew most of the people killed by Bowers.
He added that it wasn’t his first brush with death at the hands of militant anti-Semites.
Samet was born in Hungary and spent almost a year in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after Nazis shipped his family to Germany during World War II.
“It just never ends,” he said.
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