Your IAJFL Newsletter

February 2, 2018
17 Sh'vat 5778
Issue No. 4

President's Goals

by David Contorer

IAJFL President/Executive Director, Hebrew Free Loan, Detroit

I am honored to be president of IAJFL, and I want to lay out my goals for the two-year term so all of my colleagues who read this can hold me accountable!  Of course, none of these can be accomplished in a vacuum or silo or by me alone, and I want to preemptively thank all of my Executive Committee colleagues for the help they will provide in getting these done:

I envision a robust mentorship network to strengthen current IAJFL member agencies.  I ask that each IAJFL member agency let our team know what types of consultation you most desire and/or any particular expertise you are willing to share.  We are blessed to have a diversity of talent in our IAJFL global line-up, and it’s just a matter of matching up the mentors who are willing to coach with the mentees who are seeking the guidance.

Our Growth & Development work has been successful, and I anticipate launching two or three new free-loan agencies per year with the proper invitation, stimulation, connectivity and guidance. We are planting seeds in many Jewish communities right now, and that is why I am confident some of these will germinate each year.  If you are interested in helping IAJFL to expand, and you have contacts with some influence in Jewish communities across the U.S., Canada and/or global locations, please connect with Tina Sheinbein, who is leading our Growth & Development efforts at 602-230-7983 or

We have heard the call from many free-loan community representatives for IAJFL to provide enhanced marketing and outreach templates that can be shared across our network.  Universal messaging around common events such as Shabbat Mishpatim (when The Torah portion is read that commands Jews to help one another by providing loans without charging interest) will be very helpful for all of you to cut-and-paste something eye-catching that can be used to connect people to your service.  Beyond Mishpatim, the Dropbox shared files will continue to be a place where all IAJFL member agencies can share files that range from best practices in bylaw revision to how your promissory note and guarantor / cosigner agreements are written.  Sharing marketing materials and documents that are successful will continue to be a key asset of IAJFL membership, and I would like to see that expand.

I want to continue IAJFL’s collaborations and partnerships that grow awareness with Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies (NJHSA – new membership organization of Jewish Family Service and Jewish Vocational Service agencies), ORT (overseas vocational, educational and Jewish identity training organization in dozens of countries), The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), World Jewish Congress, non-Jewish organizations in nonsectarian free loan communities that partner to provide services and to refer clients, and many others that have targeted audiences, like Hasidah (connecting national resources for Jewish couples who are seeking in-vitro fertilization).

The Small Agencies Group (known as “SAG”) is undergoing a re-design in 2018 and there will be a schedule of calls planned with interesting content presented both by peers and (when possible) by outside experts.  SAG is a key benefit for dozens of IAJFL member agencies, and we want to see it be relevant and appreciated by all participants.

I can’t do the above ambitious agenda all alone, so please contact me at 248-723-8184 or if you have an idea or want to be involved with one or more of these goals.  Let’s all work together to grow and strengthen IAJFL, to make it even better this year and in the years to come.

Shabbat Mishpatim

by Ellen Sacks
IAJFL VP/Associate E.D., Jewish Free Loan, Phoenix

We are thrilled to announce that IAJFL has established the Shabbat Mishpatim Outreach Program to provide local free loan agencies with additional tools for marketing and outreach during Shabbat Mishpatim and throughout the year.  This program is a direct result of long-time conversations about the need for a coordinated education campaign to coincide with the reading of Parshat Mishpatim – the primary passage in the Torah that provides the biblical directive for the work of free loan organizations. 

As currently envisioned, the Shabbat Mishpatim Outreach Program will be implemented in stages over the next three years and will include a variety of materials and strategies to guide a cohesive message about the impact of interest-free lending that can be shared through both electronic and print communications.  The first pieces of this program will be rolled out very soon and will include a press release template and suggested social media posts and calendar.  

Additional outreach components to be introduced in the coming months/years include:
  • Article/story authored by well-known Jewish Communal Scholar(s)
  • IAJFL Community Partner Recognition Program
  • Year-Round Media Kit
Be sure to check your email for the message I sent out on January 30 providing everyone with social media posts for use in the coming week leading up to Shabbat Mishpatim on February 9, 2018.  We look forward to sharing more information with you in the near future and providing member agencies with ways to share how local free loans are helping make an international impact.  I am excited to be spearheading the creation of the Shabbat Mishpatim Outreach Program.  If you have any questions or suggestions for this program, please contact me at or 602-230-7983.

2017 Conference Recap

by Dyanna Loeb

Marketing Manager, Hebrew Free Loan of San Francisco

IAJFL’s 35th annual conference was hosted by Hebrew Free Loan of San Francisco in October 2017. Sixty participants representing 23 free loan agencies came together for an invigorating three days of learning, team building, and skills exchange. This year’s theme, I3:  Inspiration, Innovation and Impact, provided an opportunity to explore fresh ideas and share accumulated wisdom. Our aim was to inspire attendees to consider new ways of carrying out their mission and to prepare for the future of our free loan agencies.

A full agenda of structured sessions, including lectures and discussions on topics relevant to our day-to-day work, were mixed with social gatherings and opportunities to network and connect.  Here are a few highlights:
  • Dr. Wendy Rosov of Rosov Consulting explored approaches and tools for assessing and demonstrating our impact.
  • Ilana Tandowsky, Head of HR + Leadership Development at Intuit, introduced the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator to help us better understand how we and others process information, in order to communicate more effectively with loan applicants, colleagues, donors, and board members.
  • Terry Borer (Jewish Free Loan Toronto) facilitated a panel that delved into the topic of cybersecurity and physical security, with presentations from experts in the field.
On Sunday night, participants enjoyed a night on the town and a live performance of San Francisco’s classic Beach Blanket Babylon, followed by a delicious Israeli dinner at Sababa, a Hebrew Free Loan of San Francisco business loan recipient.  On Monday night, participants joined with Bay Area board members to enjoy the local scene at a reception in the Andra Norris Gallery in downtown Burlingame.

We hope that attendees came away with tangible tools and cutting-edge strategies to help move their work forward, as well as strengthened connections with colleagues in the IAJFL community.

We look forward to seeing you all in October 2018 in New York City!  For information about the conference contact Hebrew Free Loan Society in NYC at

Charleston is IAJFL's Newest Member Agency

by Sara Sharnoff Chesley
Director of Charleston Jewish Family Services

I am so incredibly excited to be launching Jewish Free Loans of Charleston in early 2018.  Charleston has an amazingly rich Jewish history and the population is expanding each year, along with its communal needs. In order to prepare for the JFLC launch, I attended the 2017 IAJFL annual conference in San Francisco.  I met so many inspiring staff and lay leaders who are offering life-changing loans for members of their local communities around the country. One particular highlight from the conference was visiting Sababa, a Middle Eastern fast-casual restaurant, which opened and is expanding due to a business loan from Hebrew Free Loan in San Francisco.  This inspired me to think of how offering business loans in the future could change the landscape of Jewish Charleston.
As Charleston begins its Jewish Free Loans journey, we are so excited to be able to support our local families through life’s ups and downs, and we look forward to growing our program to help the community for years to come. Thank you to all of the other agencies who have assisted us in making JFLC a reality.

IAJFL Members in Canada

by Michelle Dodek

Immediate Past President, Hebrew Free Loan Association of Vancouver

 Just as the IAJFL is an umbrella organization for all of us, Canada has an effective and inclusive system of connecting all Jewish Free Loan organizations throughout our country with quarterly conference calls.  The calls are organized and run by IAJFL Treasurer, and Canadian representative on the executive committee, Mannie Druker.  It is possible to have a Canada-wide call because we have only 7 organizations across the country. Functioning free loans exist in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver and all of us make time to participate quite regularly on the calls.  In fact, in the winter months, one of our participants connects from Florida because Ottawa is just too cold.

Over the thousands of kilometers, we feel a close and strong bond as free loan organizations large and small.  We share so many of the same goals and ways of doing things, as do all members of the IAJFL but in addition, we have the specific nature of our Canadian legal and political commonalities.  Although Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver’s organizations are many times larger than the small operations in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary, we all find that we can learn from one another.

Our commonalities include that we all serve the Jewish community exclusively, giving loans to Jews in the areas in and around our cities.  Some of us extend our services to our entire province, recognizing that the size of many of our smaller centres cannot support Jewish organizations like ours.  We all find that debt consolidation is an area we lend for and that seniors are a major borrower demographic.  While most of us are feeling that the number of loans we administer is unchanged or diminishing, Toronto is forming more partnerships with day schools, youth groups and March of the Living to increase loan activity.

The structure of our associations varies as well, generally in concert with population size.  Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg have 75-100% of their loan activity administered by staff whereas the rest of us are between 80-100% volunteer based. Some of us find recruiting board members or making changes to our board of directors very challenging.

For those of you who know anything about Canada, not only do we have a vast geographical divide but we also have a linguistic/cultural dichotomy.  The major difference between Quebec and the rest of Canada vis à vis Jewish lending is one of exposure.  While the rest of us feel our communities know little about us and our services, Nicky Madoff in Montreal says his organization’s exposure rate is 7/10! 

Above all, not matter how well known we are in our community, we, like our American counterparts, all want to do more good, help more people.  Through our quarterly calls and our connection with the IAJFL, we are all working on that.  If we find a “Made in Canada” solution that we think will fit and that we are permitted to export even as the NAFTA talks seem on the rocks, we’ll certainly share it!

Why Add Advocacy to Your Nonprofit's Practice?

by Michal Marcus

IAJFL VP/Executive Director, HFLA of Northeast Ohio

As the sages tell us in the Ethics of the Fathers, “It is not yours to complete the task, neither are you free to desist from it.” At HFLA of Northeast Ohio, a non-sectarian lender since 1904, our organization and board takes this concept very seriously, and has enabled Executive Director Michal Marcus to help advance the causes of our vulnerable populations through advocacy. At HFLA of Northeast Ohio, a significant issue affecting our disadvantaged borrowers currently is the impact of payday loans.
HFLA of Northeast Ohio believes strongly that “to affect real change for disadvantaged individuals in our community it is not enough to help them personally, we must identify the sources of their problems and challenges and, when they aren’t able to use their own voice, help be their voice.” Therefore, Michal has participated in local advocacy and outreach in the State of Ohio, and will testify before the Ohio House Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight when it holds hearings on House Bill 123 for payday lending reform. This bill is intended to close the loophole in Ohio’s laws that allow lenders to charge up to 591% APR on loans, according to Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, Michal has traveled with Rabbi David Rosenn of New York’s HFLS in coordination with Bend the Arc a Jewish Partnership for Justice to Washington, DC to meet with then-incumbent Consumer Federal Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray on the need to regulate payday lenders.
Nick Bourke, director of consumer finance, The Pew Charitable Trusts, states, “Community-based nonprofit organizations play an essential role in policy change. Through advocacy and outreach efforts, they connect lawmakers with community members who can share their stories and needs. HFLA of Northeast Ohio has been a great example:  While delivering immediate relief to payday loan borrowers through an interest-free loan program, HFLA has also shown an outstanding ability to engage their clients in efforts to change state policies that are impacting their lives.”

Pew Charitable Trusts reached out to HFLA of Northeast Ohio two years ago after hearing about the success that granting interest-free loans had in helping local residents out of predatory loans. HFLA was able to share our borrowers’ stories and how an interest-free loan helps people free themselves from the debt spiral caused by these loans. Following conversations with Pew and governmental officials, it was clear that the work we are doing has a positive impact and that it was important to share this information with legislators. Since that time, HFLA has taken a more active role in advocacy to ensure that our borrowers’ long-term needs are being served.  We want their voices to be heard and to make sure that these issues are being resolved at the source of the problem.

It is incumbent upon those of us with firsthand knowledge of issues affecting those who struggle to have their voice heard, to be a conduit of that voice.  HFLA has seen firsthand how predatory loans adversely affect our borrowers and prey on their lack of knowledge.  HFLA of Northeast Ohio joined Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform and we are working to:
  • Collect borrowers’ stories and recruit community leaders
  • Mobilize more organizations in advocating for lending reform
  • Catalyze local engagement and support
  • Meet with legislators and lawmakers to share firsthand what we are seeing and help educate them
  • Explore best practices for organizations incorporating advocacy into their mission 
“Jewish-led free loan organizations provide an essential service to Americans of all backgrounds. I’d love to see these organizations doing more to promote public policy that prevents our neighbors from getting so deep in debt in the first place. Terrible public policies have unleashed exploitative loans that are almost not repayable, and cuts to higher education put young people deep in debt for trying to get needed skills. This means many more people will now need the services of Jewish free loan groups - as valuable as your services are, you can’t make up for policies that virtually ensure more families will be in debt. Your voice is sorely needed in the policy debate,” said Amy Hanauer, Founding Executive Director, Policy Matters Ohio.

Can You Help?

Reaching Out Around the Globe

IAJFL Growth & Development

by Tina Sheinbein

IAJFL Immediate Past President/Executive Director, Jewish Free Loan, Phoenix

Are you traveling to Europe and feel like helping IAJFL with a quick visit in Madrid, London, Paris or Berlin?  We have been busy over the past few years making contacts and connections with the assistance of several international Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and World ORT (the world’s largest Jewish education and vocational training non-governmental organization) in an effort to expand our presence in the international arena.  We could use your help in meeting with some of these individuals we have reached out to over the past few years.  If your travels will bring you to any of these cities please let me know so I can get you connected!  Our colleagues in Israel have been a tremendous help as the European community often travels to Israel.

While expanding our international presence, we are also working to expand our impact in many communities in North America. Thanks to our team of IAJFL leaders, we are offering support to those revitalizing and reenergizing several existing or dormant free loans, while also reaching out to new areas such as Las Vegas.

IAJFL is continuing our work with JFNA (Jewish Federation of North America) to work with those cities that might establish new free loans through the Federation system, and also working with NJHSA (the newly formed “Network” of Jewish Human Service Agencies, formerly JFCS and JVS agencies) to expand our reach within both the United States and Canada.  We have been asked to present a session at the upcoming Network Conference this spring about possible partnerships to help those most vulnerable in our communities.

Another important aspect of our expansion efforts is our mentoring and coaching program which provides direct assistance to new and expanding free loan programs.  In addition to tools like our Dropbox and SAG (Small Agencies Group) program, IAJFL also offers the opportunity to have a mentor or coach assigned to a community, both professionals and volunteers, to help with general or specific needs such as fundraising, loan programs, board development, and many other topics.  The IAJFL executive committee will also be working during 2018 with local member agency presidents to find additional ways IAJFL can best meet the needs of their free loan programs.  Indeed it is a very exciting time for all of us!

So, if you are interested in having a mentor/coach, or if you are interested in mentoring/coaching another agency, please let me know what skills and expertise you are able to share.  If you will be traveling and are interested in meeting with some of our contacts throughout North America and/or around the globe, let me know.  I look forward to having you join IAJFL’s Growth & Development outreach team.

I can be reached at 602-230-7983 or email me at I look forward to hearing from you!  ~ Tina

P.S. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge with much appreciation David Contorer, our current IAJFL President, for his hard work, dedication and commitment to making the IAJFL Growth & Development process move forward from the efforts begun by Susan Luterman, Mannie Druker and Andrew Weinberg who previously championed IAJFL’s outreach and expansion endeavors.


* President's Goals
* Shabbat Mishpatim
* 2017 Conference Recap
* Charleston, SC
* IAJFL Members in Canada
* Advocacy in N.E. Ohio
* G&D Around the Globe

If some text appears in color or the blue sidebar is missing please choose "VIEW ENTIRE MESSAGE" for best newsletter viewing on your device. Viewing on a mobile device may cause some content to move to the end of the newsletter.
Welcome to IAJFL!
Our newest member agency: Charleston, SC
Parshat Mishpatim: What The Bible Says About Money Lending
How is charging interest like a snake bite?

Parshat Mishpatim video commissioned by the Hebrew Free Loan of San Francisco and narrated by Rori Picker Neiss

BENEFITS of IAJFL Membership

  • Professionals and lay leaders provide support and membership
  • Annual conference offers networking, idea-sharing, and learning opportunities
  • Conference calls provide ongoing education and peer support
  • Sharing of marketing materials, document templates and other best practices
  • Collaboration with other national and international organizations such as JFNA, NJHSA, and Hillel International
Looking for an example document from another member agency?  Have something to share?  IAJFL shared documents are in the Dropbox. Contact for more information.


Established in 2015 for sharing documents between IAJFL agencies, the IAJFL Dropbox account serves as a central repository for all types of written communication. We’ve formally invited close to 300 people affiliated with IAJFL member agencies to view and/or add material. We’re thrilled to see that several agencies have added their own documents to folders such as Marketing Materials, Loan Applications, Loan Policies, and Bylaws. Instead of drafting something from scratch, take a look at versions being used in other communities. Our annual City Reports spreadsheets have also been uploaded for easy reference.
The Dropbox account is intended to be dynamic; please let us know if you have suggestions for additional types of materials which might be helpful to upload.
If you haven’t already visited the site, please check it out. If you need an invitation or assistance logging on, please contact Natalie Shy at


By the Numbers


member agencies

agencies founded over 100 years ago

in combined assets

more than

loaned since 1982
to over

875,000 borrowers

repayment rate

Conference Calls

Cheryl Barish Erlick and Tim Grossman are the new chairs of the SAG Group.  The 2018 call schedule will be COMING SOON!

Everyone is invited to participate in the Small Agencies Group (SAG) conference calls.
Have something to share?

Please email Ginny to share your newest agency video, a successful recent event
(with photos) or anything you think your fellow IAJFL member agencies would find interesting.  We may include your item in a future newsletter. 

Email Ginny at with 'Newsletter' in the subject line. Thank you!

IAJFL Newsletter Editor:
Ginny Gendelman, Executive Director, Milwaukee Jewish Free Loan Association
Copyright © 2018 International Association of Jewish Free Loans, All rights reserved.

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