Judah Samet, 80, vividly remembers the day Nazis invaded his home and forced his family onto a train headed for Auschwitz.
He was 6 years old at the time, and would spend his seventh birthday in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Northern Germany.
But Samet survived the Holocaust, and eventually ended up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife.
Samet has faithfully attended services at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh for decades.
On Oct. 27, Samet nearly lost his life, again, on account of being a Jew.
He was four minutes late to synagogue, just enough time to miss the mass shooting that took place inside the building when a man allegedly killed 11 people.
“I survived the second time yesterday,” Samet told The Washington Post on the day after the shooting.
While Samet is usually quite prompt, he said he was held up that morning by his housekeeper, making him run just a few minutes late.
“I was four minutes late. Instead of 9:45, I got there about 9:49, maybe 9:50,” Samet said.
He said the shooting did not conjure up any old memories of the Holocaust, because the memories never faded in the first place.
“It never stops,” Samet said of the ever-present memories that haunt him to this day.
Samet said when he arrived in the parking lot, he could hear the sound of gunfire ring through the air.
“It just never ends. It’s never completely safe for Jews,” Samet told CNN. “It’s in the DNA. Not just America’s DNA but the world’s.”
Samet recalled fixating on the shooter, remembering details about the man’s appearance in case it would be helpful to police.
“I was in the line of fire,” he said. “Luckily, I wasn’t hit.”
Samet describes himself as a very strong person, but admits the whole ordeal has left him heartsick, along with the rest of the congregation and sympathetic Americans across the country.
“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.”
Samet is holding fast to his faith in God, who he believes is still sovereign over all creation.
“You know the size of the universe? You think we are his only subjects?” Samet said. “Maybe I survived this weekend because of him.”
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