A Holocaust survivor from Rockville, Md.–who grew up Orthodox in Czechoslovakia and helped her father, a wine and beer manufacturer, bottle drinks before the Sabbath–will be a special guest of Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff’s, seated in First Lady Jill Biden’s viewing box at tonight’s State of the Union address. 

Ruth Cohen, 92, and her older sister Teresa survived numerous concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her father, Herman Friedman, also survived the war, but the rest of the family was murdered.

Cohen and her father moved to the United States in April 1948, and Teresa followed six months later. Ruth wed Benjamin Cohen in 1952 and the couple has three children.

A U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum volunteer, she met Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, last year before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In that meeting, Cohen spoke of the importance of raising awareness about the history and dangers of antisemitism.

Other State of the Union guests of the first lady at the joint session of Congress are set to include Ukrainian Ambassador to Washington Oksana Markarova, Irish singer and activist Bono and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul.


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