Our Federation is excited to celebrate the first anniversary of the Jewish Free Loan Fund of Greater Hartford, marking a successful year of providing a hand up — not a handout — to community members in need through interest-free loans. It promises to remain a long-term lifeline for those experiencing temporary financial hardship.
For many in Greater Hartford’s Jewish community, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed not only a health hazard but also a financial threat. Medical bills and other unexpected expenses have put many families and small businesses at risk. Last March, in response to immediate needs, hundreds of generous donors contributed to the Rapid Relief and Recovery Fund started by our Federation and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford. Ann and Jeremy Pava were among those moved to give, and they also saw an opportunity to improve our community’s long-term financial stability by establishing the Jewish Free Loan Fund of Greater Hartford. This fund provides no-interest loans to individuals, families, and small businesses in perpetuity. At just one year old, it has provided a lifeline to many in our region — and it continues to grow in scope and impact.
To address the rising cost of living, the fund recently increased its loan limits to $10,000 per household and $15,000 for small businesses — all interest free. "This entire program is based on how the Torah tells us to live," explains Ann Pava, who now chairs the Jewish Free Loan Fund. "The fund allows us to help people in the most dignified manner possible, which is one of the most important tenets of Judaism."
Though loans are available for a broad range of unexpected expenses, the fund has been especially critical for those facing costly medical bills, a growing national challenge. "The issue of exorbitant healthcare costs is front and center these days, so to know that we've been able to help local families face that hardship is very gratifying," says Pava. Recipients have also used the fund to care for funeral expenses and day-care costs, and to keep their small businesses viable throughout lockdown. Pava adds that the overarching aim of the fund is to help families and businesses get back on their feet with a temporary boost. "In Judaism, one of the best ways to give is to create an atmosphere where a person can again become independent," she says. "This fund does just that."
The Jewish Free Loan Fund of Greater Hartford is one of just two such funds in Connecticut, and it now accepts applications from Jewish families and businesses across our state. Additional donations will allow the fund to broaden its scope and impact even further, says Federation President and CEO David Waren. "A tax-deductible donation to our Jewish Free Loan Fund provides our neighbors in need the means to tackle financial challenges, pursue dreams, and achieve self-sufficiency with dignity."