Jewish Federations Applaud Senate for Resolution Honoring Holocaust Survivors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 23, 2014
MEDIA CONTACT:
Max Samis, Rabinowitz Communications, max@rabinowitz.com, (o) 202-265-3000, (c) 202-681-2528

Jewish Federations Applaud Senate for Resolution Honoring Holocaust Survivors
Bipartisan resolution sponsored by Sen. Cardin, Sen. Kirk and eight others celebrates contributions of survivors living in U.S.

Washington, D.C. – In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, the Senate passed with unanimous consent a resolution honoring the contributions of Holocaust survivors to the United States. The Jewish Federations of North America lauded the Senate for passing the resolution, noting with pride the work being done in coordination with the federal government to assist and provide for survivors living in need.

“This action by the Senate deserves praise from all corners of the world, not just from the American Jewish community,” said Mark Wilf, chair of the Jewish Federations effort to address the needs of Holocaust survivors. “Jewish Federations applaud the Senate for honoring these remarkable people and for recognizing the importance of allowing survivors to age with dignity and comfort.”

The bipartisan resolution, sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) along with eight other cosponsors, “expresses appreciation for the substantial and varied contributions made to the United States by the survivors of the Holocaust, encourages the people of the United States to learn about the efforts and achievements of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the United States in the years following World War II, expresses admiration for the more than 100,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States who continue to bear witness to their personal stories and educate the world, and understands the hardships Holocaust survivors have endured, and supports their desire to age with dignity and comfort in their homes and communities.” Cosponsors of the bill included Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

“As the Senate so rightly noted, Holocaust survivors have made remarkable contributions to the United States and the world at large,” remarked JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman. “We acknowledge and honor the thousands of Holocaust survivors who may not be famous, but who author books and speak to children and adults about their often traumatic personal experiences. They continue to give and work to make the world a better place.”

Jewish Federations and family service agencies have been working closely with Congress and the Obama Administration to develop and implement programs aimed at improving the lives of Holocaust survivors living in poverty.  These efforts include the appointment of Aviva Sufian as Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services at the Department of Health and Human Services; a partnership with the AmeriCorps VISTA program increase the capacities of community organizations to serve Holocaust survivors; and the Administration’s proposal for a $5 million challenge grant to encourage public-private partnerships to support programs for Holocaust survivors.

In tandem with these efforts, JFNA launched a campaign led by Wilf to address the needs of Holocaust survivors and bridge budget shortfalls in existing programs. Wilf, the renowned philanthropist and owner/president of the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings, 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.

Of the approximately 113,000 Holocaust survivors currently in the United States, it is estimated that about a quarter, including many 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.

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, the Claims Conference and nonprofit organizations to ensure that Holocaust survivors get the support and care they need to live in their communities with comfort and security. 

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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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