JOINing to endure a financial shortfall

JOIN Israel's Loan Fund restores circumvents disaster for individuals and families facing major expenses or temporary cash-flow problems. The volunteer-run fund maintains a 99.5% collection rate while helping hundreds bridge difficult stretches with dignity.

The loans enable recipients to temporarily get over a situation that hinders them and get back to managing on their own.

Story of Success

Cash flow is an issue for everyone. Loans are vital when income is down, expenses are up or special circumstances arise, such as buying an apartment, paying tuition for college or career training, starting a new livelihood or business, major dental work, or a family occasion (bar mitzvah or wedding).

Obtaining short free-loans, while common in Israel, is more difficult for the Russian immigrant who is less-known and has fewer known guarantors. Bella S. is the lone provider for her son and grandson, as her son’s depression and psychological issues have sent him in and out of mental-health wards for a decade. Bella, like many others, faces times when she can’t possibly make it through the month.

JOIN Israel’s Loan Fund provides the answer. Begun in 1998 with the support of board member Yisroel Schulman in honor of his father, William Schulman, loans are tailored to the need, but generally are in the range of $1400 for up to 12 months. An emphasis on checking references and guarantors, and ensuring immediate repayment with post-dated checks, makes the fund almost completely self-sustaining. The collection rate is a tremendous 99.5%.

Rama Finkel is the fund's volunteer administrator. Involved with Russian immigrants for over 20 years, she finds great satisfaction in helping hundreds of individuals and families bridge difficult stretches with dignity. Leib R., for example, borrows to tide over the gaps between his mortgage payments. Tzila R., a pensioner, turns to the Loan Fund biannually when she has to pre-pay her rent for the upcoming half-year, until she receives her governmental housing subsidy. Mrs. Finkel points out that the financial downturn of the past few years has made JOIN Israel’s Loan Fund worth its weight in gold.

"If it weren’t for the loan I got, I would have lost our home our only asset several times already," Leib says. "The Loan Fund has really been there for me, in my toughest times.”

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