The Hebrew Free Loan Society, which was formed in 1892 to assist indigent Jewish immigrants here, marked a milestone recently — it has provided more than $220 million in interest-free loans, on a nonsectarian basis, to more than 865,000 borrowers. In the last fiscal year, the total was almost $11.5 million, to over 1,430 borrowers. The default rate, even during the current recession, remains below 1 percent. Executive Director Shana Novick, a former Park Avenue attorney and resident counsel at the Ford Foundation who joined HFLS in 1995, talks about the Society’s work.
The pride Boris Juray takes in his small tailoring shop in South Brooklyn is evident in how he discusses the business, how other members of his family have gotten involved and how a small-business loan from a Jewish program helped his store survive.
Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series connected to the 90th anniversary of UJA-Federation of New York. The first part, concerning the federation’s history, appeared last week.
The help that Irina Dubrovskaya receives from the Hebrew Free Loan Society, one of the 24 charter agencies that launched what is now UJA-Federation, is similar to much of the aid the federation funded through the society in its early years.
What caused Edward Karan, a stylish 34-year-old banker for Citi Private Bank, to become a founding member of the Young Leadership Initiative at the Hebrew Free Loan Society? After all, Hebrew Free Loan is a venerable community institution that evokes images of peddlers with pushcarts on the Lower East Side of a century ago, and in fact has been providing interest-free loans to members of the New York Jewish community since 1892.
Arkadiy Ugorskiy, a refugee from Russia, realized a couple of years ago that he faced a new and formidable obstacle to making it in the U.S. in the field of video production. Although Ugorskiy, who studied cinematography in a top Moscow studio, had succeeded against the odds in building his business “from nothing” after arriving in Brooklyn in 1998, at 44, he couldn’t afford to buy the high-definition video equipment that was quickly becoming the standard in the field.