Zero interest loans offered to Jewish communities to keep them afloat

The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Hayesod and Jewish Federations of North America, are launching the 'COVID-19 Loan Fund for Communities in Crisis.'

Jewish Agency women pay tribute to Rosie the Riveter in honor of International Women's Day. (photo credit: DUDI SALEM/ZUG PRODUCTIONS)
Jewish Agency women pay tribute to Rosie the Riveter in honor of International Women's Day.
(photo credit: DUDI SALEM/ZUG PRODUCTIONS)
Zero-interest loans are to be made available to Jewish communities worldwide to provide immediate cash flow and help them weather the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus lockdown, the organizations providing the loans have announced.
The Jewish Agency for Israel, together with its partners Keren Hayesod and Jewish Federations of North America, is launching the "COVID-19 Loan Fund for Communities in Crisis," the agency announced in a press release. The loans are to be made available in response to urgent calls from Jewish communities in Italy, Spain, South Africa and South America, among others, for immediate financial relief.
Under the terms of the fund, organizations outside North America which are dedicated to providing services which are essential to the continuance of Jewish communities, and which are now at risk to survive the lockdown, will be offered interest free loans to allow them to continue.
“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.
"The Jewish Agency, together with our partners at Keren Hayesod and JFNA, will work to ensure the continued existence of Jewish communities and their vital activities. 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.”
The initial phase of the Fund will make $10 million available, in loans of up to $350,000 per community or organization,  to allow for their continued survival. The loans will have to be paid at the end of the first year in four installments, over four years. Representatives from the three partner organizations will oversee the fund alongside an advisory committee of financial experts from Europe and South America.
Organizations such as educational programs, youth groups, museums and other cultural outlets, and volunteer groups are all having to dig deep into any financial reserves they may have, but none will be able to last with zero income indefinitely, and many have already had to let staff members go.
Keren Hayesod-UIA World Chairman Sam Grundwerg said: “Jewish communities all over the world are currently in real crisis, physically and emotionally, and in many places Jewish institutions are being devastated. Jews from all over the world have supported Israel from its establishment, and Israel – which bears a responsibility toward all Jews – is standing alongside these communities during these challenging times.”
Italy was an initial hotspot for the coronavirus in the early stages and entered lockdown ahead of most other countries; the country has now recording over 180,000 cases. It is also home to some of Europe's oldest Jewish communities, furnishing European Jewry with a rich legacy, and the modern State of Israel with significant financial support. Now, the organizations say, it's time to give back, to ensure the ongoing financial viability of those communities.
"This is the hour for solidarity, to support a dedicated, Zionist community that has supported us for years and now needs support, until it can return to its glory. It is our moral duty as a global Jewish collective to be there for them and for many other communities in need at this difficult time," said Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronoviz.
The partner organizations have said that any other philanthropic institutions who wish to partner with them are welcome to do so. Anyone interested should email [email protected]