By Robert Stitt
According to government records, there are approximately 130,000 survivors of the Holocaust living in the United States. At least a quarter of these victims of Nazi atrocities continue to dwell in poverty. According to the Obama administration, twelve million dollars should help.
The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address the survivor’s needs, especially those living below the poverty line. According to the Times of Israel, the money will come in the form of matching funds to be distributed in increments of $2.5 million each year for five years.
The JFNA said the money “will be used to advance innovations in person-centered, trauma-informed supportive services for Holocaust survivors.” Mark Wilf, chairman of the JFNA’s National Holocaust Survivor Initiative, added, “With this award, we will be able to advance our efforts to provide crucial services to vulnerable survivors, including those living in poverty, those in the Orthodox Jewish community and those from the former Soviet Union.”
Wilf is a co-owner of the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings and engages in philanthropy apart from this operation. Just last month, he teamed with Starkey Hearing Foundation, the Vikings, and the New York Yankees to pass out hearing aids to 100 needy New Yorkers including 20 Holocaust survivors.
The matching fund money is a product of an initiative started by Vice President Joe Biden in 2013. The initiative picked up steam and received the support it needed in Congress. Among the members of Congress who were specifically recognized and thanked for their support were U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill.
Many in the black community are not happy about this gesture, pointing out that $12 million is going to a small amount of people who were not even born in America, while native born African Americans have the highest poverty rate, 27.4 percent, and are descendants of a holocaust that spanned beyond centuries. Nearly half (45.8 percent )of young black children under the age of six live in poverty. No special funding has ever been provided to relieve African Americans of poverty.