Obama Names Envoy to Ailing Holocaust Survivor Community

Aviva Sufian To Focus Work on Survivors Living in Poverty

Holocaust survivors helped President Obama light the White House menorah last Hanukkah. Now, his administration has appointed a special envoy to help the struggling community.
white house
Holocaust survivors helped President Obama light the White House menorah last Hanukkah. Now, his administration has appointed a special envoy to help the struggling community.

By JTA

Published January 26, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Obama administration named a special envoy to the Holocaust survivor community.

Aviva Sufian, a staff member at the Health Department’s Administration for Community Living, will be the “Special Envoy for U.S. Holocaust Survivor Services,” a White House announcement said Friday.

“Her work as Special Envoy will focus on those survivors currently living in poverty, as well as those who may not be receiving services for which they are currently eligible,” according to the statement.

The appointment, arising out of a pledge last month by Vice President Joe Biden to address the needs of aging survivors and as Congress considers legislation that would do so, stems in part from a growing consensus among experts that Holocaust survivors should age in place and avoid the institutional care that health providers and government services generally recommend for the infirm.

Institutionalization can at times trigger traumatic memories for survivors.

The White House statement said that 25 percent of the estimated 150,000 Holocaust survivors in the United States live below the poverty line, as opposed to 9 percent among the general over-65 population.

Sufian previously worked for the New York City Department for the Aging and at a “large nonprofit organization that provided support for Holocaust survivors living in the New York metropolitan area,” the White House statement said.

Parallel to the White House announcement, the Jewish Federations of North America on Friday unveiled a new initiative to “to assess and communicate the needs of the Holocaust survivor programs,” the umbrella group said in a statement. Michael Wilf, a major federations donor and the owner of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, will chair the initiative.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.