Aiming To Boost Small Businesses, Free Loan Agency Set Sights On Chasidic Community - Vos iz neias

August 6, 2013

By Sandy Eller

New York - An agency that has been offering interest free loans to those in need for over 100 years has recently set its sights on a particular demographic, Brooklyn’s chasidic community, lending over $1.5 million dollars over the past several years to locally owned businesses.

“Our history has always been lending money for general emergency needs and helping very small businesses,” Shana Novick, executive director of the Hebrew Free Loan Society, told VIN News. “You want to make those interest free loans to the people who need it the most and increasingly, studies are showing that the largest group of poor Jews in the city is the chasidic community.”

While they may be called micro-loans in today’s terminology, the concept of lending seed money to small businesses is nothing new, according to Novick.

"We are 120 years old and when I speak to people in the general community they don’t know about gamachs and gemilas chesed, but what we do comes out of centuries of Jewish tradition. In fact, our original corporate name was the Hebrew Gemilas Chasadim Association.”

The Hebrew Free Loan Society was founded at Manhattan’s Vilna Synagogue in 1892 with just $95 of working capital and 25 years later, it became one of the founding organizations of what would later become the UJA - Federation.  While the HFLS is a non-sectarian agency, according to Novick, it has always focused on the needs of the Jewish community.

Read more:

Hebrew Free Loan Society Uses Third-World Tool in New York

Mom-and-Pop Hasidic Businesses Get Big Boost From Small Financing

Hebrew Free Loan Society Uses Third-World Tool in New York

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

July 29, 2013

Lazer Chaim Zinger washes talleisim. His small storefront on Lee Avenue, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, looks like any dry cleaner, with a row of tagged plastic-sheathed garments hanging behind the counter. In this Hasidic Jewish neighborhood, however, you have to take your long black coat somewhere else.

For $100, Zinger will hand-wash your tallis and shine its atara, the fringe of sterling studs stitched around the neck of the prayer shawl. Until last year, the father of seven ran his business from his apartment. That changed in June 2012, when Zinger opened his shop with a $25,000 interest-free loan from the Hebrew Free Loan Society.

HFLS is not part of the Hasidic community. Yet as poverty rates have risen in Orthodox Brooklyn, the 120-year-old Manhattan-based Jewish charity has lent nearly $1.6 million since 2009 to help launch small Hasidic-owned businesses.

The idea is to help ultra-Orthodox Jews find work, despite their lack of a secular education, by supporting them as they start their own companies. Microfinancing helped Joel Blum and his wife, Yides Blum, get her clothing business off the ground.

“It’s not that they don’t want to work,” HFLS executive director Shana Novick said about Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jews. Eastern European Jews have always owned small shops, Novick said. “That’s what we’re helping them to do here.”

The extraordinary growth of Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jewish community came at the worst possible time in terms of New York City’s economy. There are 240,000 Hasidic Jews in the New York area today, up from a relative handful just 50 years ago. At the same time, the restructuring of the city’s economy has severely limited the job options for people without even a high school diploma.

It wasn’t always that way. As recently as the late 1990s, large numbers of Hasidic men were able to find work in Manhattan’s diamond industry. But New York diamond sellers have since outsourced their diamond cutting operations to India, and those jobs, like similar skilled work in other city industries, have disappeared.

That’s left a dearth of decently compensated employment opportunities. “Their options in terms of earning a significant salary are quite limited because of the lack of secular education,” Novick said.

Read more:

Microfinancing helped Joel Blum and his wife, Yides Blum, get her clothing business off the ground.

Microfinancing helped Joel Blum and his wife, Yides Blum, get her clothing business off the ground.


Кредиты от HFLS – путь к успеху
«Русская реклама» продолжает знакомить читателей с благотворительными
организациями нашего города.
На этот раз мы расскажем о легендарном Еврейском банке беспроцентных
ссуд (Hebrew Free Loan Society - HFLS), который в текущем году отмечает по-
настоящему еврейский юбилей – ему исполняется 120 лет! полный текст
Second Career Startups - Jewish Week

Second Career Startups

New course here to train recession-battered Jewish baby boomers seeking to launch, grow a business.

By Doug Chandler

Marc Miller is hoping to start a venture involving hydroponics, the process of growing fruits and vegetables in nutrient solution rather than soil.

Michael Takiff, a published historian, has already begun a new business in which he’d put together oral histories or biographies for companies, nonprofit organizations and families. To read more..


When Religion Restricts Lending - Wall Street Journal

Judaism, Christianity and Islam have various prohibitions on charging interest - and various ways around them.

By Tamar Snyder

This Saturday, synagogues will chant the Torah portion of Mishpatim, from the book of Exodus, which is the source for the injunction against charging interest to a fellow Jew: "When you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, do not act toward them as a creditor; exact no interest from them." Click here to read the full article


The Jewish Way Of Lending - The Jewish Week

Shana Novick / Special To The Jewish Week

For hundreds of years in Eastern Europe, traditional Jewish communities celebrated their key communal institutions by designating specific Shabbatot each year to honor the people who ran them. On Shabbat Yayera, for example, when the parsha describes how Abraham displayed exemplary hospitality to the three visiting angels, the leaders of the Chevrah Hachnasas Orchim (Society for Hospitality) would receive aliyas. On Shabbat Chayei Sara, when the parsha describes the purchase of a burial plot by Abraham for Sarah, the leaders of the Chevrah Kaddisha (the Free Burial Society) were called up. Shabbat Mishpatim, in the shtetl and then in America, honored the leaders of the G’mach, or Gemilus Chesed, the interest-free loan society, because Mishpatim contains one of the three biblical sources for the mitzvah of charitable lending, or, to use modern philanthropic parlance, Jewish microfinance: Click here to read the full article

Jerusalem Home For American Artists - Jewish Week
HFLS Board President, David Karnovsky, recently participated in an initiative of the New York-based Foundation for Jewish Culture that took him, along with three other top-level artists and professionals, to Jerusalem to work alongside Israeli and Palestinian professionals.  Click here to read the full article.
Profiles of Enterprise by Chaya Beindy Keninsberg, Binah Magazine, July 2011

Binah Magazine published an article profiling our “new and improved” core business training course for ultra-Orthodox women, part of our comprehensive Microenterprise program for FSU immigrants and members of the ultra-Orthodox community. The article is written by acourse participant and highlights the goal of the course: to position entrepreneurs to succeed by offering soft and hard business skills in a supportive educational environment.


Award Honors Exemplary Work for People With Special Needs, December 20 2010

Having compassion for others, especially those with disabilities, was something that Shana Novick and Ellen Lamonoff developed in their childhoods. That trait, that ability to see the dignity in all people, led to careers in human services and was rewarded December 16th when they received this year’s Zella Bronfman Butler Award, presented at an awards ceremony at UJA-Federation of New York.

Award recipients Shana Novick, Hebrew Free Loan Society, and Ellen Lamonoff, WJCS, with, from left, Bruce Doniger, President and CEO, J.E & Z.B. Butler Foundation; Rabbi Marty Schloss, The Jewish Education Project; and Walter Wittwer, WJCS.

The award, given annually by UJA-Federation’s Task Force on People With Disabilities and The J.E. and Z.B. Butler Foundation, recognizes two professionals in UJA-Federation’s network of agencies. Award recipients are chosen for demonstrating the highest standards of service and compassionate care for children and adults with physical, developmental, and learning disabilities.


Hebrew Free Loan Society's promotional video

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