Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington on Righteous Crowd this Week!


Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington

Interest Free Loans for Those in Need

In this week’s Torah portion, Re’eh, we read about the mitzvah of giving loans to those in need. We read, “If there is a needy person among you… do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman. Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs” (Deuteronomy 15: 7-8). We are excited to feature an organization that provides interest-free loans to members of the Greater Washington Jewish community, to help them meet their financial needs with dignity.

Read our interview below with Righteous Crowd member and Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington's Board Chair David Farber.

What is the mission of the Hebrew Free Loan Association ?
The Hebrew Free Loan Association is maintained by the Jewish community of Greater Washington, DC, providing interest-free loans to members of the community, to help them meet their financial needs with dignity. Loans are available for a range of legitimate needs, including, but not limited to, medical bills, emergency bills, and credit card debts. Student loans are available for students in their junior and senior years of college and graduate students.

What's the best part of your work with the Hebrew Free Loan Association?
Speaking to borrowers, learning their stories, and understanding how the Hebrew Free Loan Associations in DC and around the world (see http://www.iajfl.org) have changed and improved lives is simply amazing. In January 2019, we set up an "emergency loan" program to respond to the federal furlough. Dozens of supporters came to us sharing stories of how free loans decades ago changed their lives and the lives of their families. And our ability to help the federal employees who at the time had no idea when they might see a next paycheck was truly empowering.

What has surprised you about working with Hebrew Free Loan Association?
The need is far deeper than we understand, and it is not only those who are "poor" who may, for whatever circumstance, need a loan. We have lent to individuals one would quickly identify as "truly poor" all the way through to major community donors who for a series of unfortunate circumstances find themselves in need of a loan. Both bring joy to us, as our mission is to serve the entire community.

Why did you decide to support Hebrew Free Loan Association?
Hebrew Free Loan Association is a bedrock of our community, and from its start 109 years ago has helped build our community from its beginnings. In recent years, however, the community has lost sight of this important founding organization, even as the need has grown. As a 109 year old startup, we are committed to bringing free loans back to continue to serve the community.

How would you connect your organization to a Jewish text?
There are three Torah "pesukim" addressing interest free loans: “If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, do not act toward them as a creditor; exact no interest from them” (Exodus 22:2); “If your kinsman, being in straits, comes under your authority, and you hold him as though a resident alien, let him live by your side do not exact from him advance or accrued interest, but fear your God. Let him live by your side as your kinsman. Do not lend him your money at advance interest, or give him your food at accrued interest.” (Leviticus 25:36-38); and “You shall not deduct interest from loans to your countrymen, whether in money or food or anything else that can be deducted as interest” (Deuteronomy 23:20-21). It doesn't get better than that.

What are some non-monetary ways for others to get involved in your organization or cause?
Help spread the word about us to those in need, and come volunteer with us. Help us build the organization and grow our roots across the community.

To learn more about Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington visit www.hebrewfreeloandc.org.

Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington is part of a network of nearly 50 interest free lending agencies around the world. Learn more at www.iajfl.org.

Amy Benarroch