Jewish Lending Groups Step in to Help Furloughed Jewish Federal Workers

The Capitol and Washington Monument are seen at dawn as the partial government shutdown lurches into a third week with President Trump standing firm in his border wall funding demands, in Washington, on Jan. 7, 2019. After no weekend breakthrough to end a prolonged shutdown, newly empowered House Democrats are planning to step up pressure on Trump and Republican lawmakers to reopen the government. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Jewish groups are pitching in to help the estimated 50,000 Jewish furloughed federal workers across the country who will lose their paychecks if the government shutdown continues until Friday (Jan. 11).

“Up until now people haven’t missed any paychecks,” said Gil Preuss, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. “This is the first week where there’s an immediate financial impact. We expect to see an increase in requests for help.”

One Jewish organization, the Hebrew Fee Loan Association of Greater Washington, is offering no-interest loans of up to $2,000 to furloughed Jewish workers and waiving a requirement that they provide two guarantors.

On Tuesday, it processed the first of these loans.

“This is addressing a very acute cash flow need for those Jewish federal employees in the greater D.C. area who are encountering problems,” said David Farber, chairman of the association. “We’re there for them.”

Jewish lending groups in San Francisco and Austin, Texas, have decided to follow in the Washington association’s footsteps, as have other Jewish organizations, the Forward reported.

Logo for the Hebrew Free Loan Association of
Greater Washington. Courtesy image

No city in the country is as affected by the government shutdown as Washington, where an estimated 98,300 people are furloughed. For many, the District feels like a ghost town. All 19 Smithsonian institutions plus the National Zoo are shut down, as are many offices.

The Hebrew Free Loan Association expects modest loans will help tide over some Jewish families. In past shutdowns, employees received back pay after the government reopened.

The association was formed in 1909 to help those who came in the great wave of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe and Russia. It is one of 50 such Jewish lending agencies across the world, according to the International Association of Jewish Free Loans.

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Source: Religion News Service