Interest-Free, Steeped In Tradition

Author: Kristin E. Holmes

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

In tough economic times, a centuries-old financial lifeline might be one of the best-kept secrets in the Jewish community.

It is a secret whose roots go back to the TorahThe Old Testament is the term Christians often use for the body of writings that comprise the Hebrew Bible which Jews call Tanakh., where it is called an act of “loving kindness.”

When rent is due or tuition is short, there are loans available for thousands of dollars – interest free.

The programs are part of a tradition in the Jewish community of offering loans without interest to people in need. The money has helped families adopt babies, a woman buy a pacemaker, and immigrants start a new life.

“I was going to IsraelLiterally “Wrestler with God”, Israel is the name given to the Jewish patriarch Jacob and came to refer to the entire nation, bound in an eternal covenant to God. Historically, Jews have continued to regard themselves as the continuation of the ancien..., and I just needed some extra money,” said Yaron Gola of Northeast Philadelphia. “It was a tremendous blessing. It makes you feel a part of a community.”

About 50 groups in the United States and abroad lend millions in interest-free loans each year, said Mark Meltzer, past president and cofounder of the International Association of HebrewHebrew is the ancient language of the Israelites in which the Bible and most of Jewish liturgy is written. Free Loans.

In the region, the Hebrew Free Loan Society of Greater Philadelphia in Elkins Park and the Chaya Mushka LubavitcherLubavitchers are members of a branch of Hasidism, a Jewish pietistic movement. They take their name from a Russian town called Lubavitch and follow a line of spiritual masters or rebbes, the last of whom was Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), w... G’Milus ChesedHesed is generally translated as meaning “loving-kindness” in Hebrew. In the Jewish mystical tradition, the “Kabbalah”, it refers to one of the ten creative forces that intervene between the infinite, unknowable God, and our created world. in Northeast Philadelphia are two of the independent organizations that carry on the tradition. Both provide loans in the five-county Philadelphia area. The Elkins Park group also serves South Jersey.

Jewish nonprofit groups also offer small interest-free loans, often for educational pursuits.

It is viewed as a mitzvahMitzvah means “commandment” and refers to the 613 commandments that Jews are obligated to observe. It can also refer to any Jewish religious obligation, or colloquially, to any good deed., a good deed, said RabbiRabbi means “my master,” an authorized teacher or master of the Torah and the classical Jewish tradition. After the fall of the second Temple in 70 CE and the scattering of the Jewish people in exile, the role of the rabbi became very important in gat... Zalman Lipsker, director of the Lubavitcher fund. In fact, G’Milus Chesed translates to “deed of loving kindness” in Hebrew.