May 8, 2014
Max Samis, Rabinowitz Communications,, (o) 202-265-3000, (c) 202-681-2528
Jewish Federations Applaud President Obama’s Commitment to Holocaust Survivors
New York – Upon accepting the Ambassador for Humanity award from the USC Shoah Foundation,
President Barack Obama stressed Wednesday the importance of providing care and assistance for
Holocaust survivors living in need. The Jewish Federations of North America, which has led the effort to
implement such programs, applauded the President’s speech and reaffirmed the organization’s
commitment to raising funds in support of survivors.
“President Obama’s strong statement emphasized how important it is to provide for the most
vulnerable among us. Too many Holocaust survivors need our help, and we have a moral responsibility
to lift them up,” said philanthropist Mark Wilf, who leads Jewish Federations’ efforts to galvanize
support for Holocaust survivor programs. “To that end, Jewish Federations across the country have
made tremendous progress raising funds for Holocaust survivors, yet more needs to be done.”
While speaking in Los Angeles, President Obama praised the work of director Steven Spielberg and the
USC Shoah Foundation, while noting that one way to honor the memories of Holocaust victims is to
honor the dignity of survivors. The president stated that "as Americans, we’re proud to be a country that
welcomed so many Holocaust survivors in the wake of World War II. As President, I’m proud that we’re
doing more to stand with Holocaust survivors in America... and tonight I invite more of you to join us.
We need to keep faith with these survivors who already have given so much."
As the nation celebrates Jewish American Heritage Month, President Obama’s speech highlights the
Administration’s commitment to helping Holocaust survivors live in their homes and communities with
comfort and security. This past December, Vice President Joe Biden announced a number of federal
initiatives to support survivors, and significant progress has been made since then. In January, the
Administration appointed Aviva Sufian as Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services at the
Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Sufian has met with dozens of survivors, social workers,
and federal agencies to learn the needs and improve access to services. The Administration has helped
forge a partnership between the AmeriCorps VISTA program and the Association of Jewish Family &
Children’s Agencies to increase the capacities of community organizations to serve impoverished
Holocaust survivors. Additionally, the Administration’s FY 2015 Budget includes a $5 million challenge
grant to encourage public-private partnerships to support programs for Holocaust survivors.
In tandem with the Vice President’s announcement, Wilf and JFNA launched an effort 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.
While working to secure national funding to meet countrywide demands, Wilf and Jewish Federations
have worked alongside local communities, coordinating information and supporting local fundraising
efforts to meet regional needs. The Jewish Federations are pleased to support the New York, Los
Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Cleveland communities in raising funds to be used at the
local level. The funds will have maximum impact on survivors for priorities such as case management,
home care, transportation and other basic needs. Plans to expand to other communities are underway.
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.
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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