Jewish groups launch $10 million interest-free loan fund to help communities struggling with coronavirus


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Three Jewish groups have teamed to launch a $10 million fund to provide no-interest loans to Jewish communities around the world that are struggling due to the coronavirus crisis.

Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Hayesod (United Israel Appeal) started the COVID-19 Loan Fund for Communities in Crisis after Jewish communities and communal organizations in several countries sought assistance to ensure their survival.

The communities and organizations — including in Italy, Spain, South Africa and countries in South America — were financially stable before the onslaught of the pandemic but are now unable to finance basic communal services, according to the Jewish Agency. Essential welfare services are in danger of being closed, the group said in a statement.

The fund will provide immediate working capital loans  to communities in danger outside of North America.

In its initial phase, the fund will provide loans of up to $350,000 to each community or organization to help them continue functioning throughout the coronavirus crisis. The loans will be provided for up to four years.

The fund also will include an advisory committee comprised of financial experts from across Europe and South America, along with professionals from the various communities to help assess needs and design the appropriate response.

“We are dealing with an unprecedented crisis that is impacting every aspect of life, including the Jewish world,” Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Isaac Herzog said in a statement.

Herzog added that “the Jewish people are responsible for one another, now more than ever. And we welcome the support of all those that believe in Klal Yisrael.”

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