Politics

State of the Union: Holocaust, Pittsburgh massacre survivor Judah Samet serenaded

Crowd sings “Happy Birthday” at SOTU

Washington — In a joyful, bipartisan moment, lawmakers briefly interrupted the State of the Union to serenade a survivor of October’s Pittsburgh synagogue massacre with an impromptu version of “Happy Birthday.”

Judah Samet is also a Holocaust survivor and celebrated his 81st birthday Tuesday.

President Trump saluted Samet during his address, saying Samet can still recall the moment nearly 75 years ago when he was put on a train after 10 months in a concentration camp. Suddenly the train screeched to a halt. A soldier appeared. Samet’s family braced for the worst, but then his father cried out with joy, “It’s the Americans.”

Lawmakers jumped to their feet and applauded as Mr. Trump told the story, and they spontaneously sang “Happy Birthday.” Samet smiled and shouted “thank you.”

US-POLITICS-TRUMP-SOTU
Special guest Judah Samet, a survivor of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting and the Holocaust, blows a kiss as he is acknowledged during  President Trump’s State of the Union address on February 5, 2019

Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images


Noting the singing lawmakers, Mr. Trump told Samet that members of Congress “wouldn’t do that for me.”

Samet immigrated to Israel after World War II and served in the Israeli Defense Forces before moving to the United States in the 1960s.

In October, he escaped the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, in which 11 people were killed. Samet has been a congregant of the synagogue for more than half a century.

Days after the shooting, Samet spoke with “CBS This Morning.” He said he arrived a few minutes late, which actually may have saved his life.

He said his message to the nation is, “Love is much easier than hate”:

Holocaust survivor on Pittsburgh attack: “Love is much easier than hate”

Democrats and Republicans also sang to President Reagan to honor his 74th birthday when he finished his State of the Union address in 1985.


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