Up to 50,000 Jewish federal employees affected by shutdown

Hebrew Free Loan Society preparing emergency assistance for Jewish workers going without paychecks.

An American Jewish man praying  (photo credit: REUTERS)
An American Jewish man praying
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Approximately 50,000 Jewish federal workers face weeks or months without pay due to a government shutdown over funding for US President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington told The Jerusalem Post this week.
But those struggling to pay their bills are being thrown a lifeline. The Hebrew Free Loan Society of Greater Washington will offer interest-free emergency loans to those affected by the shutdown, offering essential aid to workers and their families entering an interminable period of financial instability.
Trump has embraced the shutdown and warned Democratic congressional leaders he is willing to drag the impasse on for months– or even years– unless he is granted $5.6 billion in border wall funding.
Democrats are refusing to budge, characterizing the wall as practically useless for border security, symbolically hateful and antithetical to American values.
“We estimate at least 50,000 Jewish federal employees have been impacted,” said Gil Preuss, chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. “In terms of community response, we are currently working with local human service agencies to track incremental needs and address them as they arise. Over the course of this week, we expect to see a growth in demand for services as employees seeks financial assistance as well as other support.”
The president of the local Hebrew Free Loan Society, which has chapters across the nation and around the world, said the organization held a conference call on Christmas Day and agreed to make an exceptional offer of emergency assistance.
“Sometimes a board has to rise to the occasion – it was unanimous,” said Fran Kritz, who in 1995 suffered through another government shutdown with her husband, a federal employee, and their newborn.
“We really were living paycheck to paycheck – we were paying school loans, babysitters, fearing we’d have to move or that my husband would have to leave a job he loved,” Kritz said. “We’re older now with greater incomes, and we survived that, thank God – but we never forget what it was like to live through that.”
The loan society’s drive started with $30,000 in assistance funds and quickly doubled with donations. Kritz says the society will “not turn anyone away” in need throughout the crisis.
“In our community there are people who work at the Food and Drug Administration on food safety, on innovations for Medicare, at the State Department as foreign service officers – Jews who have looked around at what they could do and could’ve been venture capitalists or hedge fund managers, but have devoted their lives to making our world a better place,” Kritz added. “We owe it to them to help.”