Life hasn’t been easy for Tatiana Rabinovich.*
Rabinovich immigrated to the United States from the Republic of Belarus. The landlocked former Soviet Union has endured an economic downturn since 2011 and has suffered a series of political crises, including allegations of electoral fraud and Russia’s support for the war with Ukraine.
Rabinovitch lives safely in America, but her family is still in Belarus and faces an uncertain future. Her sister was recently investigated by the country’s secret police following the 2020 protests, and her family’s personal safety was threatened.
Get the weekly edition of The Jewish Chronicles by email and never miss a top story Sign up for free
Despite the challenges, Rabinovich found safety and prospered in his new country. In fact, when an American friend of hers needed help with college tuition, she offered to co-sign a loan from her Hebrew Free Loan Association to pay off the loan if her friend was unable to pay it back. I promised to pay you back.
Rabinovich said the loan meant a lot to his friend Joe.
“He was in a situation where he couldn’t finish school without this loan,” she said. “Additional funding is what he needed. That loan allowed him to graduate. The money paid off a lot.”
Joe finally got his diploma. Unfortunately, it was awarded to his widow and his parents after Joe died suddenly.
But Joe’s death didn’t wipe out his debt to the HFLA.
Rabinovich and several other HFLA borrowers received a surprise gift after learning that an anonymous donor contacted the organization in August with an offer to repay a loan worth $120,000.
HFLA executive director Amanda Hirsch said the offer was made in recognition of a schmita, or sabbatical year. is to forgive loans given to members of the human community.
Hirsh began his role as Executive Director of HFLA in June. The organization offers interest-free loans. That is, the borrower repays exactly the amount borrowed.
Hirsch said the anonymous donor offer provided a great opportunity to find out the number and types of borrowers the nonprofit is helping.
There weren’t many requirements imposed by the donors, except that the borrower had to repay at least 50% of the loan and continue to make payments. He was interested in helping those who took out loans and used the money for Jewish day schools. Overall, the HFLA made him $119,500.
“I shared the list in an Excel sheet at 5 p.m. on Friday,” says Hirsh. “Within 15 minutes, the donor said, ‘OK, I’ll send you the check. I’ll receive it in two weeks. This is all about recognizing Shmita.”
Hirsch said the money will pay off the loans of 77 borrowers. At HFLA, he has 160 borrowers and total loans of about $550,000. Donations allow organizations to make new loans immediately.
“This money was to be repaid in due course,” she said. “We are recycling the dollar, so the money back means we can issue new loans. It means that
After growing up in Pittsburgh and attending the Graduate School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, Hirsch moved to Washington, DC to work for the Child Welfare League of America, where executive director of HFLA is a dream job. She left the nation’s capital to move to Big She’s Apple, New York City Mission her society and she took a position on 92nd Street Y. After returning to Pittsburgh with her husband, she worked for the Allegheny County Human Resources Department before she accepted her job at the HFLA.
Hersh’s role is new to the organization. It was created after the departure of longtime director of marketing and development Aviva Lebowski and financial services director Ellen Clancy.
“The board met and recognized that it was time to take that step with the executive director,” she said.
Hersh has spent the past few months getting familiar with the organization and its policies. She will be working on some new procedures to help speed up the processing of her loans. Until then, she’s thrilled that one of her first public acts had her board tell a donation from an anonymous donor and call some of the loan-waived borrowers. rice field.
For Rabinovich, a loan forgiveness means she can start helping in earnest with another thing she’s passionate about. It is to help Ukrainians who are suffering because of the war with Russia. She asks everyone she can to do the same.
“We have several fundraisers and are trying to help as much as we can,” she said. PJC
*For security reasons, interviewees were requested to be identified by pseudonyms.
David Rullo can be reached at email@example.com.