How You Help — Stories of Impact
Interest Free Loan Program Helps Community Remain Financially Stable During Times of Crisis
“After my wife’s cancer surgery, we had a sudden need for 24/7 in-home care,” said Robert Bass. “It was going to be several months before our long-term-care insurance would begin reimbursing us, which left us in the red.”
Bass isn’t alone. Many within the Cincinnati Jewish community struggle with the unfortunate financial burdens that have accompanied illnesses like cancer, or the current pandemic. Often the only solutions to those unexpected challenges are financial. That’s why the Cincinnati Jewish Interest Free Loan (CJIFL) program provides interest-free loans to Jewish borrowers in the Cincinnati area.
“I applied for, and promptly received, a generous loan from the CJIFL program,” said Bass. “It truly rescued me at a most difficult time.”
CJIFL loans money, interest-free, and as the loans are repaid, those payments are recycled to provide more loans. CJIFL interest-free loans enable borrowers to save money. They can resolve their financial situations without interest costs and additional bank fees, and as they repay their loans, CJIFL clients are actually “paying it forward” to help others.
“Our objective is to help people,” said Jewish Federation of Cincinnati President Danielle V. Minson. “We are trying to work with people in our community who are facing adversity. These loans can have a lasting impact on individuals and entire families.”
“The process is easy,” said Jim Friedman, Director of Jewish Federation’s Planned Giving and Endowment. “It begins with a pre-loan application, followed by an in-person or virtual appointment to verify if the loan qualifies. The objective is to have the loans repaid in full within two to three years. Individual loans at the Jewish Federation are up to a maximum of $10,000.”
To qualify for a CJIFL loan, you must be Jewish or reside in a Jewish household, are at least 18 years old, have sufficient income to repay the loan, are a resident of Greater Cincinnati or nearby communities (12-month residency required), and have people willing to guarantee the loan (guarantors).
The CJIFL program, previously known as the Hebrew Free Loan, has been lending money since 1986 to Jewish individuals living in the Cincinnati area. Initially, the endowment fund was established with seed money from Manuel and Rhoda Mayerson to help with business loans to start or expand a small commercial enterprise.
In 1990, the Hebrew Free Loan Program expanded to include loans to recent Soviet emigrants to assist with purchasing items required for employment. In 2007, the loan initiative expanded even further to include loans for adoptions, home purchasing, and immediate personal medical loans.
In 2021, an unprecedented pandemic provided a reason to extend the scope of the loans once again. Personal loans now include, but are not limited to, adoption/infertility, car purchase or repair, celebrations/Simchas, down payment for first-time homebuyers, educational training needs, funeral expenses, home repair or remodeling, medical or dental health needs, moving expenses, taxes, or temporary unemployment. Small business loans are also offered to those who wish to start, expand, or purchase commercial enterprises located in Cincinnati.
“I am so grateful the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati offers the CJIFL program as my husband and I would not have been able to afford our IVF treatments without their help,” said the first-ever recipient of a CJIFL loan for infertility, who chose to remain anonymous. “It is extremely heartwarming to know that this organization cares about those struggling with infertility and offers their support for couples and individuals during their fertility journeys.”
In addition to the CJIFL program, the Moses E. Miller Hebrew Free Loan Society (MEMHFLS) is also available to Cincinnati residents. The MEMHFLS is one of the few family-run Hebrew free loan organizations in the US. “While some cities may have one organization lending money, Cincinnati is lucky that we have two,” said Friedman. “We work collaboratively with the Katz family, which now oversees the MEMHFLS, to be sure those who need assistance can find it.”
“We look forward to serving the needs of many more individuals in the coming months,” concludes Friedman. “It’s in the spirit of making ours a more welcoming and caring Jewish community.”
To learn more about Cincinnati Jewish Interest Free Loans, please visit: jewishcincinnati.org/cjifl
To learn more about the Moses E. Miller Hebrew Free Loan Society, please visit: memhebrewfreeloan.com
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