Posts Tagged ‘jewish’

College Bound? Applying for the William Davidson Jewish College Loan Program (WDJCLP)? Mark Your 2015 Calendar with These Important Dates

March 9th, 2015

As winter fades into spring, time really seems to accelerate for high school students and their parents and grandparents. Parties, ceremonies, awards and special events fill up the calendar. And you know what else should fill your calendar? These key application dates for applying for loans!

College is a big investment in your future and traditional student loans can be difficult to pay back due to high interest rates.

The William Davidson Jewish College Loan Program (WDJCLP) is a student loan that can help qualifying Jewish students who live in Michigan. Best part – it’s interest free!

If you are interested in applying, here are the important spring application dates for the Fall 2015 semester and the Winter/Spring 2016 semester.

April 1 – Opening date for submitting WDJCLP applications with initial supporting documents (acceptance letter from school, tax returns, student driver’s license)

May 15 – Deadline for submitting WDJCLP with initial supporting documents

June 15 – Deadline for submitting final supporting documents which include the following:

– Student Aid Report (SAR) received after filing for FAFSA.
– Financial aid award letter from school you will be attending
– Transcript from last school year completed
– Copy of each co-signer’s driver’s license
– Completed and signed co-signer form

July 2015 – WDJCLP Loan Committee meets to review and evaluate applications

July 31, 2015 – WDJCLP notifies students of the Loan Committee’s decision/ sends promissory notes

August 15, 2015 – Deadline for submitting completed promissory notes

August 31, 2015 – Receive loan checks

If you have any questions, please read more about our application process or contact us by email at or phone at 248-723-8184.

How Hebrew Free Loan is helping Jewish Families after Flooding in the Metro Detroit Area: Estie Gomez’s story

September 19th, 2014


On Aug. 11, 2014, many southeast Michigan residents were victims of a flood caused by torrential rainstorms.  Many people had to deal with waterlogged basements and destroyed personal, sentimental possessions. The water was so deep in some of these basements that even items carefully placed in plastic bins with lids were ruined.


This was the case of Estie Gomez.


Hebrew Free Loan Metro Detroit Flood Story

Estie Gomez and her family




Estie was coming home from work as her husband was going out to see a client.  As they crossed paths, Estie’s husband told her to call a roofing company since there was a leak in the kitchen ceiling.  The roofer, referred to her by her sister-in-law, was going to come out to take a look at the roof in the next couple of days.  Later on, Estie’s sister-in-law texted her again to say that her basement was flooding.  Estie was so concerned with the roof that she never thought to look in the basement.


Estie told her husband to take a look at the basement.  She heard him say, “Our basement is flooding!”  In disbelief, Estie said, “Don’t joke.”


Her husband responded, “I’m not joking.”  At this point, the water had already reached the top of the bottom step, about six inches.  They both rushed down to the basement to turn off the air conditioner and fuse box.  They were in shock at what they saw.


The baby gear, toys and books were floating in the water.  The mobile Estie used with both of her young children was swirling around in the rising water.


As she was trying to process the horrific scene, a plastic bin filled with her deceased mother’s cookbooks and hand-written recipes tipped over into the water.  Estie was heartbroken to see the irreplaceable family heirlooms drifting in the water.


Hebrew Free Loan Metro Detroit Flood Story

Damage from the flood




The water eventually receded and even though Estie contacted restoration companies, she never heard back.


Their furnace, which was making strange noises, needed to be serviced and they had no hot water.  They tried to relight the pilot light, but could not do it.  A service man came out to relight it and saw the soggy mess in the basement.  He knew someone who could help them clear out their basement and by Friday, they hired the man to help them bring everything up and out of their basement.


By Sunday, Estie and her husband started to sanitize their basement.  They worked with two hoses to rinse away the sewage and proceeded to bleach everything they could such as their silver, cups and glasses.  Boxes of photos and the beloved family recipes were set out to dry.  Unfortunately, many things could not be salvaged such as sweaters, baby clothes and school projects.


Hebrew Free Loan Metro Detroit Flood Story

This was part of the garbage. More bags were added.




Estie was completely overwhelmed with cleaning and sanitizing the basement when the roofer shared his upsetting news: Estie would need to replace the entire roof on their home.


The money they saved for their summer vacation (which was supposed to be that same week) was not enough to cover the roof.  The kids were disappointed about vacation plans being altered and Estie and her husband were frustrated that the time they set aside for vacation and to celebrate their ninth anniversary was going to be spent repairing the house.


Broken and devastated, Estie reached out to Hebrew Free Loan.





The process for the interest-free loan was carried out quickly.  By the end of the week, Estie and her husband had a meeting and were approved for a loan.  The meeting was not just a quick run of numbers; Estie said her family appreciated the warm and compassionate treatment they received. They were treated like people, not just a number, she said.


Hebrew Free Loan was able to lift the weight off of Estie’s shoulders.  With Hebrew Free Loan’s help, they were able to put a new roof on their house.


As of the second week of September, Hebrew Free Loan has approved 36 interest-free loans, which added up to a total of $265,000, for flood victims.  As always, the agency is standing by to assist Jewish families in this time of need and loss.




For more information on how to get help, please visit our website  or call us at 248-723-8184.  We can also be reached via email at


To learn more about our mission, upcoming activities, or other ways we help the Jewish community, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.




The Metro Detroit August Flood: It Hit Home at Hebrew Free Loan

September 2nd, 2014


Homes damaged. Families hopelessly watching as water rose in their basements, damaging furniture, walls and priceless memories and belongings. It was dubbed “floodmageddon.”

On August 11, 2014, thousands of southeast Michigan residents experienced a intense rainstorm that dropped up to 6.3 inches of water over the course of a few hours. Roads flooded — stranding motorists — and neighborhood storm and sewage systems were overwhelmed, creating a surge of contaminated water in low-lying living spaces.


HFL flood blog pic 3

Hundreds of members of our Jewish community (like me, Hebrew Free Loan’s Executive Director David Contorer) who live in the Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Berkley and Oak Park areas – and other communities in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties — were inundated with flood water around our cars and in our basements. As a result, there is an unprecedented amount of property damage to autos and homes and a public health nightmare could be waiting for those families who do not properly and thoroughly clean up the water and sewage left behind.

But for many Jewish families, help is available.


HFL flood blog pic 1

Hebrew Free Loan (HFL) is a key part of our Jewish community’s response to this disaster. In close partnership with the Jewish Federation and Jewish Family Service, HFL has already expedited our loan review process to efficiently help those who have had property damage. HFL’s Executive Committee unanimously agreed to put this emergency plan into action to show our organization’s sense of urgency to help those in these dire conditions. Our Jewish Federation will back some of the riskier loans (that would not be approved during HFL’s regular loan vetting process), because our community is focused on helping those in need now without bureaucracy or excuses.


The process goes like this for Jewish community flood victims who need assistance paying for basement cleaning (tear-outs, restoration, anti-microbial spray), repair or replacement of damaged furnaces, water heaters, washers and dryers and other urgent costs. If you or someone you love in the Jewish community has been affected, please contact the Jewish Assistance Network (JAN) at (248) 592-2650, where helpful responders (from Jewish Family Service) will refer those in need to immediate assistance at either Hebrew Free Loan or to Jewish Family Service (for those families who may not be in the position to take out a loan).

At HFL, our team of caring and dedicated staff and volunteer leaders will take client information and (within a week) have a response with next steps towards securing an interest-free loan that will pay for the clean-up and repair for borrowers.

I could not be more proud of HFL’s board members who have come to the agency to spend hours on intake phone calls from flood victims (side by side with our HFL professional team).


HFL’s mission is to “provide loans and promise dignity” and you can hear the sighs of relief as we execute this mission from the dozens of flood victims who say things like, “Thank G-d you are here! I am so thankful for what you are doing to help us!”

The flood waters have receded and I know I’m not the only one with a ruined skeleton of a basement, haunted by wood studs and concrete floors. Hundreds of members of our Jewish community have basements that look like mine. Three or four cycles of once-beautiful furnishings and collectibles have been picked up at the curb, making our neighborhoods appear to be war zones. The cost of clean-up and repair will be enormous and no family in our community planned to spend these thousands of dollars (that most people do not have as liquid cash-flow in the best of circumstances).

Yet, thanks to Hebrew Free Loan, Jewish Family Service and our Jewish Federation’s coordinated efforts, we are going to help each family to get things cleaned up and get back to normal as soon as possible.


For more information on how to get help, please visit our Web site or call us at 248-723-8184. We can also be reached via email at

To learn more about our mission, upcoming activities or other ways we help the Jewish community, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Expanding HFL’s Camp Loans and for The Teen Mission

September 4th, 2013

Blog authored by: Sherri Ketai

A Hebrew Free Loan (HFL) interest-free loan can help families (that have financial need or may just not have the necessary cash-flow) to pay for summer camp experiences and for Israel travel.  This comes in VERY handy when a lump-sum deposit or final amount is due in the spring, and many families do not have the ability to make that deadline.  An HFL loan for a qualifying family (subject to a customized loan pay-off timeline) will allow them to pay back HFL over 12 months—without interest, of course.

As a newer Board member at HFL, I asked if the general Jewish community is aware of these loans and whether or not camps (besides Tamarack) are promoting this to their families.

We think that many overnight and day camps where Jewish kids regularly attend (in Michigan and throughout our region) are NOT AWARE and have never promoted this opportunity to their Michigan-based Jewish families.

This blog is the first step HFL will be taking to expand awareness to the following overnight camps: Tavor, Tamakwa, Tanuga, Interlochen, Ramah, GUCI, Walden, and Wooden Acres.  This is not an exhaustive list, but it is where we will be starting.

Summer day camps at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and at many synagogues also serve families who may have difficulties in paying a lump-sum camp deposit.  HFL will reach out to remind all of these groups that their families also may be eligible for HFL summer camp loans.

Another amazing program in our community is the Israel Teen Mission of The Jewish Federation and many partnering synagogues.  This is an expensive but life-changing Israel experience for our Jewish teens, but again—many families may have a tough time meeting the cost to send their kids (even with scholarships that are available).  HFL can provide interest-free loan assistance that makes the Teen Mission a reality, as well.

HFL is expanding our horizons, so spread the word!

Why Serving on the HFL Board is a Special Experience

August 14th, 2013

Blog authored by: Susie Pappas

This may surprise many who know me but I am not a native Detroiter.  I came here from Chicago in 1971 as a new bride and did not know a soul except my husband, Norm.  So what does a “newbie” do to meet some new people?  Join organizations, of course!  Before I knew it, I became very involved in the Jewish community, taking a variety of leadership roles in Federation and other Jewish organizations.  I was fortunate to be asked to serve on several boards, including the JCC, JFS, Women’s Department and Board of Governors of the JFMD as well as being involved with Yad Ezra and JARC.  I even spent a short time on the HFL board but because of time restraints, I had to drop off that one.  Fast forward about 30 years and here I am once again on one of the best boards in town!  Hebrew Free Loan is the place to be!

As a board member, I take my turn about 4-6 times a year to help with interviewing potential borrowers.  I have learned many things while fulfilling this job.

  1. We try to say “yes” as often as we can, which always makes each of us feel proud of a job well done.  Usually as long as the borrower can repay the loan and is able to secure two valid co-signers, we can loan the money that is requested.

  2. People come to Hebrew Free Loan because they have nowhere else to go.

  3. We hear all kinds of stories: many are sad, but we also hear about simchas, as well.

  4. People just like you and me may very well be sitting right across the table from me (and they have, believe me)

  5. We recycle money–yes, it is a loan–but 99% of the time, the loan is paid back and then it can be loaned out again to others in need.

  6. The staff at HFL are among the nicest and most helpful staff I have ever worked with.

  7. I look forward to my interview times and would like to do it more often but everyone on this board feels the same way!

If serving on the Hebrew Free Loan board could be a lifetime position, then sign me up, please!  As I said, it’s one of the best boards in town!!

Expanding Directions – Camp, College and other Loan Programs

July 23rd, 2013

Blog Authored by Michael Berke and David Contorer

Hebrew Free Loan (HFL) is growing our loan programs and expanding awareness across the Jewish communities of Michigan.  We believe there are so many more people who could benefit from our interest-free loans for home repair, a used car, starting/ expanding a small business, paying for in-vitro fertilization and to cover hundreds of other living expenses.  HFL will always focus on safety-net service needs, where interest-free loans can provide these critical sources of support.  Beyond the safety net, HFL wants the community to know that the agency is here to help in so many other situations, as well.

In 2013 and beyond, there are some key areas where HFL will be growing our loan pool and publicizing to the community about our ability to help our Jewish community members to enhance their lives.

Summer camp experiences take many forms.  Jewish families in Michigan send their children to dozens of camps—some are day camps at the Jewish Community Center or at synagogues; some are Reform, Conservative, Orthodox or Israeli Jewish movement camps with a variety of programming; other camps are athletic or music-themed.  In all cases, these camps require significant fees to enroll your kids.  An HFL, interest-free, summer camp loan in the spring can allow a family to cover that cost (and pay back HFL over the course of the next 12 months).  This is a life-enhancing, cash-flow benefit that HFL intends to publicize and share with many more camps and families across our region.  Let us help your family send the kids to camp!

Interest-free loans for college and graduate school are so desperately needed across the U.S., and HFL will be stepping up to address those needs in Michigan’s Jewish community.  HFL will aggressively be expanding this loan program with more loan dollars and a robust marketing / outreach campaign and new technology to let hundreds more families know that we are here to help their students.

And speaking of ‘outreach,’ HFL’s Road Show is coming to a synagogue and Jewish organization near you!  We are not only sharing blogs and social media about our loans, but real, live HFL people are getting the word out to anyone who will listen that HFL is here to help you with our loans!  We will be at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue in the fall (and at many other places to share the message).

HFL is growing our capacity and the awareness across Michigan’s Jewish community landscape that our agency is here to help, just like we’ve been doing for 118 years.

Medical & Dental Care for Your Children

March 26th, 2013

As we approach the third anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act, communities across America are focused on how to maximize medical care delivery to indigent people (before the government program support begins in 2014).

Hebrew Free Loan (HFL), in close partnership with Jewish Family Service (JFS), addresses these needs for hundreds of people in Detroit’s Jewish community each year.   Through JFS’s Project Chessed, uninsured Jewish people between 19 and 64 who earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty amount per year are eligible for free medical care.  This does not cover children, however.

That’s where HFL can come into important relevance.  Our interest-free loans can be directed towards health and dental coverage for children.  We often see this need in situations where domestic violence necessitates a mother and children leave a dangerous household, and the kids require a variety of health and dental services.

Another common scenario is when kids require orthodontia or other medical/ dental treatments that may not be covered by basic insurance.  Interest-free HFL loans make a huge positive difference to help children and families in these circumstances.

As always, HFL interviews each client, preserving dignity with confidentiality and connecting them to a referral network to provide a full safety net to clients who may not know all of the resources available to help.

No child and no family in our Jewish community should lack medical or dental care, and HFL stands with other agencies to make sure that this is the case.


Hebrew Free Loan Detroit – Part of a Global Family

March 13th, 2013

Since 1895, Hebrew Free Loan (HFL) has provided interest-free loans to members of Detroit’s Jewish community for a variety of needs. We are part of a global family of free-loan agencies (called the International Association of Jewish Free Loans—IAJFL) across North America, in Israel, Australia, South Africa and soon to be expanding to more places in Europe.

Our core mission comes from MISHPATIM in The Torah, where it is commanded that we all must help Jews in need by providing loan dollars without interest. The recipe for a successful HFL agency is to have donors (individuals, Jewish Federations and foundations) as ‘supply’ and to have a community of those who need assistance with medical/dental costs, living expenses, higher education, adoptions, starting/ expanding small businesses and a number of other issues as the matching ‘demand.’

Through IAJFL, our Detroit HFL shares a great deal of knowledge and ‘best practices’ information with our sister agencies across the globe, and we, in turn, benefit from their advice and caring guidance. The largest, free-loan agency in the Jewish world is in Israel, and Jews from across The Diaspora support the fine work done by Eliezer Jaffe and his team there to help Israelis who are in need.

I am proud to be a part of an outstanding team of dedicated staff and lay leaders at HFL – Detroit. We continue to grow our loan programs to meet the increasing and diverse needs of those in our Jewish community. I am also proud to be part of a global service network of HFL agencies that provide this same caring service to Jews in need in diverse regions, as The Torah commands, and I look forward to expanding our network to even more Jewish communities.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 21st, 2012

HFL has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

As an agency, we’ve provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans to individuals in our community this year that needed financial assistance. From medical expenses to car payments to home repairs and educational loans, HFL continues our 118 year tradition of giving back to those who need our help.

And as the Holiday approaches us, HFL expresses our thanks for all of the support we’ve received this year. To our donors, who have graciously donated their funds to our annual campaign, and loan funds and as tributes, we thank you. To our Board Members, who have generously donated their time, their passion, and their kindness to our agency, our staff, and our loan recipients, we thank you. To our Jewish community, which is unparalleled in how it goes above and beyond to help others, we thank you.

With so much to be thankful for, it’s hard to think that there are others around us who are less fortunate. During a difficult time, how can we engage, and encourage those to help others? At Hebrew Free Loan, there is only so much in our capacity that we can do to provide interest-free loans. So look outside the box this holiday, and find ways to give back to those in need.

From food drives to donating clothing to raising money for your favorite organization, make sure to spread the message amongst the ones you love. It’s a time to be thankful for the many fortunes that we all have, and to give to one another.

HFL Best Practices: Innovative marketing techniques for non-profits

October 24th, 2012

At the recent International Association of Hebrew Free Loans (IAJFL) conference in Phoenix, I heard from colleagues in Jewish communities across North America how they are using both traditional and new media channels to reach out to donors, loan borrowers and other stakeholders.  Some of the best ideas I heard were:

  • YouTube videos posted on HFL websites narrating the testimonials and life-changing outcomes of successful loan borrowers.  These are great ways to show others (who may be in the same predicament) about HFL’s loan solutions.
  • Thank you phone calls made by HFL Board members to anyone who donated any amount within the last three years.  These are warm, personal contacts—just to say THANK YOU!
  • Newsletters (hard-copies that are mailed and electronic versions) that feature loan success stories from many different scenarios.  Some of these reflect the full-cycle effect of a former loan borrower who is now a donor to the HFL agency—POWERFUL.
  • College and graduate school loan applications done entirely online with personal interviews that follow the processing of all hard data.  This saves so much time, paperwork and angst on the part of the borrowers.
  • Survey questions asking (via Facebook) what types of loans are most in need…Responsive and interactive social media is so much more effective than static, one-way postings of information
  • Mailed, laminated, business-card-sized calendars to agency stakeholders (with the Jewish holidays highlighted).  Simple, yet needed, and these were part of a High Holiday “L’Shana Tova” mailing.

Communicating with all of HFL’s stakeholders in the most compelling and interactive ways is critical.  We have limited time and space to “make our case,” so these marketing and communications ‘touches’ count.

Thanks for sending us YOUR best suggestions on how our HFL can engage in innovative and effective marketing of our good work!

–       David Contorer, Executive Director, Hebrew Free Loan, Detroit