Your IAJFL Newsletter

April 7, 2017
11 Nissan 5777
Issue No. 3

Join us in San Francisco

by Cindy Rogoway & Jamie Hyams

Executive Director & Director of Development, Hebrew Free Loan, San Francisco

What do you get when you mix one part ingenuity, one part innovation and one part tradition? You get IAJFL, the most successful start-up incubator ever! We are experts in microfinance and impact investing. Collectively, our IAJFL agencies have helped hundreds of thousands of people become and remain self-sufficient. Where better to explore new ideas and to share our accumulated wisdom than the Silicon Valley?

Join us Sunday through Tuesday (October 22-24) for the 2017 IAJFL Conference. We will gather on the campus of the Ronald Wornick Jewish Day School and the Peninsula JCC in beautiful Foster City. Centrally located, Foster City is a short drive to San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, the Napa wine country and other fabulous Northern California attractions. As the conference schedule takes shape, we’ll keep you updated, but so far we have arranged for the group to take in Beach Blanket Babylon, followed by dinner in the North Beach district. Quintessential 'San Francisco', Beach Blanket Babylon is the longest running musical revue in live theater history, and a local institution. 
(check it out at  

For accommodations, the Foster City Courtyard Marriott, is a pleasant 7-minute walk from the Jewish Campus. You can reserve your rooms for the highly discounted conference rate of $199/night for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights by following this link: Book your group rate for Hebrew Free Loan Association of San Francisco - October 2017. Tuesday and Wednesday nights will likely be cost-prohibitive at this hotel, so you might search for alternative options if you plan to stay longer. Please note: the conference will begin early Sunday morning, so you may want to arrive Saturday night. Registration will open at 8:30 a.m. and the opening session will begin on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. On Tuesday, the conference will conclude around lunch time.

We look forward to seeing all of you in October! In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to call Jamie Hyams at the San Francisco Hebrew Free Loan, at 415-546-9902, ext. 106.

IAJFL Small Agencies Group

by Ellen Sacks
Associate Executive Director, Jewish Free Loan, Phoenix

We are currently working on a coordinated Shabbat Mishpatim outreach and education program for 2018, which will include many of ideas and suggestions from SAG’s March 2017 phone call. More details will be available in the coming months. In the meantime, please mark your calendar and plan on joining us for one or both of our upcoming SAG calls.  Everyone is welcome to participate and ideas for 2017-2018 call topics are much appreciated.

To be added to the email list for the SAG conference calls please contact Natalie Shy at

Upcoming 2017 SAG Calls:
April 5, 2017 @10am PST
“Capital Campaigns” – Fundraising for Loan Programs and Beyond
June 7, 2017 @ 10am PST
"Quantity vs Quality" – How to Best Present our Message, Using Stories and Data

How IFLA is tackling one of Israel's biggest socio-economic problems

by Simon Cadranel
Chief Lending Officer, Israel Free Loan Association

Twenty-five years ago, Professor Eliezer Jaffe launched the Israel Free Loan Association (IFLA) with a fund of $20,000 that he gathered to help the waves of new immigrants from Ethiopia and the Former Soviet Union. Since then IFLA has grown into a fund of fifty million dollars. We have helped over 57,000 families and lent out over a billion shekalim in loans to low-income families, single-parent families, people with disabilities, students, small business owners, and more.  We have consistently been the first organization to help Israelis in times of wars or natural disasters. It’s really not a bad track record at all. The founders of IFLA built a tremendously strong organization with a sterling reputation and developed an expertise in a form of lending that is vital to so many families across the Jewish State. We owe a tremendous debt to the people who joined Professor Jaffe, in particular former Chairman Edward Cohen and former CEO’s Yona Cohen and Joe Rosen.

But, there is so much more to do, and the reason for that is simple: Israel has an incredibly high degree of concentration in the banking sector. Three banks own 75% of the banking sector assets. This high concentration effectively prevents huge swathes of the Israeli public from having access to affordable credit and other financial services.  As a result, tragically, many people turn to the "grey market" and loan sharks.
  • 34% of all bank loans, totaling 64.5 billion shekels, have an interest rate of over 8%
  • 4.3 billion shekels in loans are at an interest rate of over 16%
  • Bank loans can reach up to 22% interest!
IFLA has decided to tackle this problem head on.  IFLA’s new Chair, Ofir Ozeri and new CEO, Sagi Balasha have embarked upon the creation of Israel’s first Social Financial Enterprise (SFE) whose goal is to provide access to high-quality affordable credit along with educational or advisory services.  We looked at the American model of the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and saw how it could provide immense benefits to Israeli society.  Ofir, Sagi and the Board have spent the last few months consulting, studying and discussing various options for the launch of the SFE that will make a truly significant impact. We have met with government representatives, legal experts, accountants, bankers, Fin-Tech experts, a variety of philanthropic leaders and leading CEOs of relevant not-for-profits.  Everywhere we turned we met people with whom our ideas resounded deeply and who immediately asked to be a part of our venture.  The truth is that everyone sees the need for an SFE in Israel. The real question is ‘Who will actually do it?” and IFLA has answered the call.

It sounds quite simple, but it is incredibly complex in reality. In essence we are going to launch Israel’s first and only not-for-profit, socially oriented bank. The technology challenges alone are formidable. Thankfully Sagi and Ofir have made a strong case to the government who seem willing to help. There are complex legal issues regarding the selection of both the best type of entity, and which regulatory framework, under which to operate. There will be immense operational matters to consider when we begin implementation. The challenge lies in turning the dream into reality.  Thankfully we are living in Israel where this is not so much a challenge as it is a part of the fabric of life. That’s just what we do here! 

Alongside launching the SFE we are also increasing the activity of our core IFLA work:
  • Engaging with our donors to create new models to help maximize the impact of their involvement under the leadership of Kaley Zeitouni, our new Director of Development.
  • Developing a ‘high-risk track’ to provide loans made in partnerships with financial education not-for-profits to help rehabilitate families after financial crises; and to help new immigrants and other populations who we cannot help today as much as we would like.
  • Converting to an online process to improve the ‘Customer Experience’ for our borrowers.
  • Partnering with the Economics Ministry and Keren Koret to launch a fund to help Ethiopian immigrant entrepreneurs.
  • Rebranding
Did I mention that it’s an exciting time to be working at IFLA?

We are also developing stronger relationships within the IAJFL community.  We were honored to be visited by both Tina Sheinbein and David Contorer this year, who shared with us the work and vision of the IAJFL.  Hopefully, we take part in those efforts and perhaps play a role in connecting the IAJFL to Europe (and beyond?).  Additionally, Rabbi David Rosenn and his team from the New York Hebrew Free Loan Society have been incredibly generous with their time and efforts and have helped us immensely. We hope to speak with more IAJFL members!  If you come to visit, please contact us and we will be honored to host you. Through these meetings, we have seen the benefits of pooling our knowledge, sharing our experiences, and daring to express our dreams for the future.

Federation offers a Helping Hand in Portland

by Caron Blau Rothstein

Director Community Engagement & Special Projects Jewish Federation of Greater Portland

The Jewish Free Loan of Greater Portland (JFLGP) began to offer loans in the Greater Portland, Oregon Jewish community in January 2016. JFLGP is not a stand-alone organization but rather a program under the auspices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, a newer program model for free loan.

A loan fund is not a wholly new concept in Portland. To the contrary, the Federated Jewish Society Loan Fund was established in Portland in 1931. The Blumauer-Bloom Loan Fund was established in 1941. At a certain point, though, the funds outlived their missions and lay dormant. As part of IAJFL’s outreach to encourage new communities to embark on free loan programs, our Federation was approached with this idea by IAJFL board member and HFL of Detroit Executive Director, David Contorer. The idea of narrowing the gap in financial support, giving people in need a helping hand over a handout, deploying dormant funds to do good once more, engaging a new cadre of community members invigorated by the concept - all appealing and enticing reasons for our community to start a program. And, as it turns out, we had those dormant funds available plus a generous transfer of the Nettie Rosen Director Fund from our local Jewish Family & Child Service to Federation toward the establishment of a new free loan program.

But where to begin organizationally? This is where the IAJFL proved to be invaluable. The resources provided by veteran colleagues in other communities were pivotal to expediting our start-up once our own leadership was on board. I attended my first IAJFL conference in Miami in November 2015, even before we had launched. No matter, I was warmly welcomed and embraced by my new colleagues. I can honestly say that in over 20 years of working in the Jewish community I have never come across a more dedicated group of professional and volunteer leaders than those involved in Jewish Free Loan programs. That sentiment was reinforced at the 2016 conference in Los Angeles.

In our first year, we have made 10 loans and talked to triple that number of prospective applicants, referring them to other Jewish and secular resources as needed. Loans varied from tuition to rental assistance to IRS back taxes to home renovation and relocation. Recipients ranged from graduate students to older adults. We increased our loan maximum from $2,000 to $4,000, and have raised over $10,000 in new funds beyond those we started with last year.

We are excited and proud to have a Jewish free loan in our community, and as a sign of our gratitude we are “paying it forward” by providing counsel to other Federations as they explore this venture. It's exciting, so soon in our history, to have this opportunity.

Empowering Jews in Australia

by Doron Abramovici 

Team Leader, Empower - Jewish Care Interest Free Loans, Melbourne 


This year represents an interesting time for Australian Jewry with our national survey currently in progress (Gen17). The survey documents details of our small community of 52,000 Jews in Victoria where our community leaders have continued to encourage sustainability and financial independence. In fact, for the last 129 years, microcredit and Jewish free loan provider, Empower - Jewish Care Interest Free Loans (formerly, Jewish Mutual Loans) has accomplished just that.
Empower, operates under a unique framework in that the program sits within Australia’s largest Jewish community service provider, Jewish Care Victoria Inc. (Jewish Care).  This community service organisation provides the following programs: residential aged care, in-home and community aged care, disability services, social work, housing support, counseling, mental health promotion, employment services, youth mentoring, and financial support services. 
Australian Jews are not immune to issues facing the general community. Difficulties gaining long-term employment, housing security, mental health issues, including social isolation, and family breakdown can often be causes of financial hardship
To address some of these issues, Jewish Care offers a suite of microfinance services aimed at addressing both the immediate needs of our community as well as enhancing long-term financial sustainability.  These services hold a principle of individual dignity throughout the process; no judgment, no handout. The microfinance services offered by Jewish Care include a professional, free and confidential financial counseling service, a saving incentive program known as Saver Plus, a financial literacy and education program aimed at both the general community through evening forums which to date have focused on raising knowledge about entering the housing market (buying and renting), women and finance, how to raise financially aware children and transitioning into aged care; as well as targeted endeavours including early intervention programs for schools, educating those with a disability and running ‘women in business workshops’.
The centerpiece of the microfinance services offered by Jewish Care is the Empower interest free loans program. The strength of this program is its operating structure, which has at its core the development of a relationship between the lending relationship officer and the borrower. This relationship commences at enquiry and continues through to settlement including regular contact with borrowers and guarantors throughout the course of the loan.  An integrated, person-centered approach results in a lending response tailored to the unique needs of each individual situation, and the ability to engage with other programs including financial counseling and social work. 
In response to community demand, a professional operating structure, and a volunteer committee that provides independent approval of the loans, Empower has been able to deliver outstanding results:

  • Average lending of A$1.6m p.a. over the last 3 years
  • Amassed a loan book of $2.8m (up from $900,000 in 2013), 318 borrowers and over 500 guarantors (some who started as borrowers)
  • Saved A$750,000 in client interest costs over the last 18 months
  • Provided a start to many businesses and 3 social enterprises over the last year
  • 50% of borrowers have a weekly income < $1,200 and no bankable assets
  • 42% of borrowers have < 35% equity in their home
  • Relatively equal gender balance of borrowers
  • Arrears rate of 1% representing a repayment rate of 99%
  • International ranking reflects strong growth and excellent management of our program and is satisfactorily represented amongst our global peers

I am immensely proud of Jewish Care’s ability to deliver real impact in the lives of members of our community in the tradition of Rambam.  As Muhammad Yunus, the founder of microfinance said in a 2003 international seminar on attacking poverty, “(Microcredit) is based on the premise that the poor have skills which remain unutilized or underutilized. It is definitely not the lack of skills which make poor people poor….charity is not the answer to poverty. It only helps poverty to continue. It creates dependency and takes away the individual’s initiative to break through the wall of poverty. Unleashing of energy and creativity in each human being is the answer to poverty.”

Watch this video for more about Empower.


Financial Assistance to Build Jewish Families

Research has shown that the number one challenge for people facing infertility is financial. Hasidah is Jewish non-profit that is directly addressing that issue in the Jewish community. Hasidah’s mission is to build awareness, establish a network of support services, and provide financial assistance to those in the Jewish community facing infertility. Hasidah just closed its first nationally publicized funding cycle that showed infertility and fertility challenges affect Jews across the religious and geographical spectrum. Applicants are dealing with a wide variety of medical situations, but share deep desires for children that are stifled by overwhelming financial hurdles.
Hasidah offers both grants and loans, depending on financial need, for in vitro fertilization (IVF).  The need far exceeds Hasidah’s current capacity. Hasidah seeks to build partnerships with Jewish Free Loan Associations across the United States to collaboratively support those who are facing financial barriers to treatment. A survey was sent out to IAJFL members recently to gather information about resources available.  If you have not already completed it, please take a few minutes to do so. (link to survey) Your input will be greatly appreciated.

IAJFL Growth and Development Committee

by David Contorer
IAJFL VP/Executive Director, Hebrew Free Loan, Detroit                                             

The Growth and Development Committee has two main objectives - to help new free loan programs to launch, and to provide value-added, customized mentorship to others whom we match up with veteran ‘coaches’ from our mishpuchah of leaders. 

Later in 2017, we will proudly welcome two new Jewish free loan program members to the IAJFL family - Charleston, South Carolina and Syracuse, New York.  These new free loan programs will be partnerships between those Jewish Federations and their Jewish Family Service agencies. These two new contacts did not just happen by chance; at least four IAJFL leaders contacted each of these two Jewish communities as part of our follow-up. This thorough, caring, diverse show of support was a strong reason why these two programs decided to move forward, embracing IAJFL.

One of the key benefits when pitching new communities on the benefits of IAJFL (beyond mentorship) is the access to the IAJFL dropbox, our online set of documents.  It can be daunting to think of preparing from scratch the promissory notes, guarantor forms, loan processing steps, bylaws, board communications and many other vital pieces that make successful free loan programs operate.  IAJFL’s dropbox has examples of all of these documents, and behind them an army of seasoned leaders who are an email or phone call (or even an in-person visit) away from helping bring these to life.

We are all involved with our agencies because we believe in the impact and effectiveness of interest-free loans to improve lives. Our commitment to IAJFL, and specifically to the Growth and Development Committee, shows how we want this model to expand to other Jewish communities where a program may not exist or where it may be anemic, compared to the needs and the potential for growth.

Beyond the U.S. and Canada, we have our sights set on helping to establish some free loan programs in some of Europe’s strongest Jewish communities - Berlin, Budapest and the United Kingdom.  With the help of our Israeli partners in Jerusalem, we are starting to make some progress in dialogue with Jewish community leaders from these areas.  We welcome assistance, so if you have connections to leaders, donors, foundations, or other stakeholders who may be interested in starting free loan programs in those areas, please contact me at or 248-723-8184.


* 2017 Conference
* Small Agencies Group
* Tackling one of Israel's biggest socio-economic problems
* Federation offers a Helping Hand in Portland
* Empowering Jews in Australia
* Financial Help for IVF
* Growth & Development Update
Welcome to IAJFL!
Our two newest member agencies: Charleston SC and Syracuse, NY
(read more in the Growth & Development article below)
Meet Jeff and Denise's Family

'Meet Jeff & Denise's Family'

from New York Hebrew Free Loan Society

BENEFITS of IAJFL Membership

  • Professionals and lay leaders provide support and membership
  • Annual conference offers networking, idea-sharing, and learning opportunities
  • Monthly 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, AJFCA and Hillel International

Member Agency Events

Click the listings below to see more about these upcoming events ...

Los Angeles - JFLA Gala

San Francisco - HFLA Gala

Phoenix - Annual Meeting

Email your event flyers, invitations, etc. to to share about your upcoming events in a future IAJFL newsletter.
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 200 people affiliated with an IAJFL member agency 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

loaned since 1982

875,000 borrowers

repayment rate

Conference Calls

Everyone is invited to join the Small Agencies Group (SAG) conference calls.
April 5 @ 10am PST
“Capital Campaigns” Fundraising for Loan Programs and Beyond
Panelists Rachel Grose, Assoc. Dir., JFLA & Jamie Hyams, Dir. of Dev. HFLSF
June 7, 2017 @ 10am PST
"Quantity vs. Quality" How to Best Present our Message, Using Stories and Data

IAJFL Newsletter Editor:
Ginny Gendelman, Executive Director, Milwaukee Jewish Free Loan Association
Copyright © 2017 International Association of Jewish Free Loans, All rights reserved.

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