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By Tiff Collier

The Hebrew Free Loan Society has introduced a loan adoption program which offers borrowers up to $ 15,000.

Company management said the program comes at a critical time when more and more people are turning to alternative means of starting and expanding their families. They said adoption, in particular, is important to the Jewish community, which adopts twice as many as the general population.

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The program offers interest-free loans to adults linked to the Jewish community of the Greater Philadelphia area, including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania, as well as Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer counties. in southern New Jersey.

The loan program features a streamlined application process. Once approved, payments start at as low as $ 300 per month, with repayment terms of up to four years.

Last year the company, which was founded 36 years ago, also introduced the Be a Family Fertility Fund, which offers loans for in vitro fertilization. This fund has already helped a local couple realize their dream of becoming parents.

The organization believes the adoption loan program will be an important resource for local Jewish residents.

“This is a game-changer for families,” said Executive Director Cheryl Barish Erlick, citing rising adoption costs, which now average $ 43,000 in the United States.

Through discussions with donors, Erlick knew that the organization’s $ 7,500 loan limit would need to be increased to meet the needs of adoptive families.

The often prohibitive costs of adoption prompted the Loeb Family Charitable Fund to donate the resources to increase the loan amount for the adoption program, which the company hopes will provide up-front funding for up to three families.

The charity fund is run by area mathematician Dan Loeb, who noted that his brother’s challenges with the adoption process decades ago have informed him of the legal and financial hurdles people face.

For Loeb, funding for the adoption program offers “another way for loving parents to bring a Jewish soul into the world.”

Erlick noted that the company is committed to being “aware of the changing needs” of borrowers by tailoring its programs to reflect the priorities and values ​​of the community. She said more and more people are asking society for help with education and family expenses.

“Growing funding for education, fertility and adoption” are top priorities for the organization, according to board chair Amy Krulik. However, she said, there is a delicate balance between generosity and sustainability that must be maintained.

“Unfortunately, we can’t fund everything,” Krulik said, adding that fundraising and awareness efforts are underway.

For example, company leaders speak at community events, synagogues, and social work agencies. The organization also benefits from word of mouth in the Jewish community, where supporters and advocates share information about loan programs to friends, family and neighbors.

Krulik, who is the CEO of Kaiserman JCC in Wynnewood, believes that the company’s loan programs are rooted in the legacy of immigrant experience.

Growing up, Krulik remembered hearing stories from his Polish grandfather who had moved to New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood. These accounts were filled with anecdotes of how residents practiced collective giving, essentially generating a pot of money for neighbors who needed financial assistance.

Historically, these types of informal community gift agreements that benefited Jewish immigrants in metropolitan areas of the United States were essential to building businesses and educating future generations.

It is the tradition of economic empowerment that inspires Loeb, who hopes the adoption loan program will grow in the future.

“It’s important that people are there for each other,” he said.

Tiff Collier is a freelance writer.

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