A Hanukkah 2000 message from a couple whose dream became reality with the help of a Hebrew Free Loan Society adoption loan.
The Hebrew Free Loan Society
Deborah is a single mother with two developmentally disabled adult children. She
was forced to move when she could no longer climb the stairs to her apartment.
While she could afford the deposit and rent for her new home, she had no way to
pay the moving expenses.
Dan’s wife had cancer that wasn’t responding to treatment. The couple learned of
an experimental treatment available in Germany, but their resources had been
exhausted by her illness.
Marina is an immigrant from the former Soviet Union. She supports herself through
her cleaning business, but she needed a reliable car to meet her work
Helene's 92-year-old mother lives in Israel. Helene hadn't seen her in two years,
and couldn't afford a plane ticket.
What do Deborah, Dan, Marina, and Helene (all names have been changed to protect
their privacy) have in common? They were all helped by the Hebrew Free Loan
Society of Greater Philadelphia. Each received a small interest-free loan that
made the difference in solving his or her problem.
What is a Hebrew Free Loan Society?
Hebrew Free Loan Societies are based on the Biblical mandate "If you lend money
to My people, to the poor among you, do not act towards them as a creditor;
exact no interest from them." (Exodus 22:24) Jewish communities throughout
history have maintained these organizations. Today, dozens of Hebrew Free Loans
exist throughout the world.
The Hebrew Free Loan Society of Greater Philadelphia has provided interest-free
loans to the local Jewish community since our founding in 1984. During that
time, we've granted over 1,500 loans totaling more than $2,000,000. We are
funded entirely by donations, and we recycle money from one borrower to the next
as our loans are repaid.
How do we help?
We make loans of up to $5,000 to borrowers with credit-worthy co-signers.
Borrowers must be Jewish or have a strong link to the Jewish community, such as
caring for a Jewish senior or working for a Jewish communal organization.
Borrowers also must live in the Greater Philadelphia area (the Pennsylvania
counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia, or the New
Jersey counties of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester or Mercer).
Loans are granted for many purposes, including such things as medical and dental
bills, home repairs, apartment rental and deposits, home purchase closing costs,
family member immigration, adoption, fertility treatments, Jewish camp,
vocational and job training, and education.
Why do we help?
Especially in these uncertain economic times, Jews must support each other in the
most basic ways. It’s estimated that a quarter of all Jews in the Philadelphia
area live below the poverty level.
In the Book of Ruth, we read that Jewish farmers were obligated to leave the
corners of their fields to help the widows and orphans to survive. By working to
harvest for themselves, the poor were saved the indignity of begging for
In a similar way, the Hebrew Free Loan is a conduit for Jews to provide anonymous
support to neighbors with a financial need. By providing a loan, we are not
giving charity, but giving our borrowers the temporary assistance they need.
The Greater Philadelphia Hebrew Free Loan Society has no paid staff. We operate
out of space donated by Beth Sholom Congregation. Our Board of Directors
volunteer their time to do the Society's work. In this way, virtually every
dollar we receive in donations gets recycled time and again.
Our organization is part of the International Society of Hebrew Free Loans
(www.freeloan.org), with members around the world. Jewish communities, large and
small, from Buenos Aires to Buffalo; from Jerusalem to North Jersey; from Miami
to Montreal have Hebrew Free Loans, and we join with them to do our good work.
How can you help your local Free Loan Society?
Spread the word. We spend very little on publicity and do no advertising.
Therefore, there are people who need us but don't know we exist.
- Join us. We always need volunteers to help us with phone calls, mailings, visits
to local synagogues, and the like.
- Contribute. Every dollar we receive in donations goes into our revolving loan
fund. We are a 501 (c) 3 charity.
To learn more about us or to apply for a loan, visit
www.HebrewFreeLoanPhila.org, email email@example.com or leave a message at 267-709-9652.
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