Jewish Federations Applaud White House Appointment of Envoy to Holocaust Survivors, Announce Federation Effort to Address Budget Shortfalls

January 24, 2014
Max Samis, Rabinowitz Communications,, (o) 202-265-3000, (c) 202-681-2528

Jewish Federations Applaud White House Appointment of Envoy to Holocaust Survivors, Announce Federation Effort to Address Budget Shortfalls

Philanthropist to lead Federation effort to assess and fulfill needs

Washington, D.C. – The Jewish Federations applauded the White House appointment of Aviva Sufian as the Department of Health and Human Services’ Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services, while also unveiling a new national Federation effort to boost community programs for Holocaust survivors, led by veteran Federation philanthropist Mark Wilf of New Jersey.

“We are thrilled to be working with Ms. Sufian as we launch this new effort to provide Holocaust survivors the support they need to live in dignity,” said Michael Siegal, Chair of the Jewish Federations’ Board of Trustees.

As Special Envoy, Sufian will serve as a liaison between the federal government, Holocaust survivors, and the community organizations that serve them. She will also promote federal programs to help survivors live with comfort and security and will help educate the public and private sectors on the unique needs and circumstances of Holocaust survivors.  The creation of an envoy was among the provisions in the Responding to Urgent needs of Survivors of the Holocaust (“RUSH”) Act, promoted by Jewish Federations and family service agencies.

Sufian will begin meeting with Holocaust survivors and their families. This appointment, announced on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, follows years of conversations between the White House, Members of Congress, and Jewish Federations and Jewish Family and Children’s Service agencies to address the social service needs of Holocaust survivors through fundraising and policy efforts.

Last month, Vice President Joe Biden announced the Administration’s intent to establish this new position along with a partnership with the Corporation for National & Community Service’s VISTA program in order to better address the needs of Holocaust survivors living in poverty in the United States.

Currently, Sufian serves as the Director of Regional Operations for the Administration for Community Living in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  She has previously served as senior advisor at the Social Security Administration and has held positions at the NYC Department for the Aging and at the UJA-Federation of New York.

To address the needs of impoverished Holocaust survivors, Wilf and JFNA will launch an effort to bridge budget shortfalls for survivor programs. Wilf is a longtime supporter of the Jewish community, and his family is among the largest financial supporters of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Israel. The renowned philanthropist and owner/president of the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings will lead Federation efforts to assess and communicate the needs of the Holocaust survivor programs.

“Chairing this effort is a tremendous privilege,” said Wilf. “It is up to us to honor the living, the survivors of the Shoah, who enhanced the American Jewish community with their spirit and determination and continue to teach us the most valuable lessons about humanity.  As we honor the memory every day of the six million who perished, we must also honor the survivors.”

Of the approximately 120,000 Holocaust survivors currently in the United States, it is estimated that about a quarter (mostly survivors from the former Soviet Union) are living at or below the federal poverty line, placing them at risk of isolation and potentially traumatic institutionalization.  In order to remain in their homes and communities, Holocaust survivors need home health care, assistance with transportation, help paying medical and dental bills, and rental assistance or affordable housing.

“Ensuring that Holocaust survivors have their physical, financial, and emotional needs addressed is a top priority and an attainable goal,” said Jerry Silverman, president and CEO, The Jewish Federations of North America. “We congratulate Ms. Sufian on her new role and look forward to working with her to ensure that survivors are able to live in their homes and communities with dignity, comfort and security.”

The Jewish Federations of North America, which works closely with the Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies and the Holocaust survivors they serve, is dedicated to working with Congress, the White House and nonprofit organizations to ensure that Holocaust survivors get the support and care they need to live in their communities with comfort and security.


The Jewish Federations, collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent, protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (charity and social justice) and Torah (Jewish learning).

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