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March 18, 1983 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-03-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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:,THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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Hebrew Free Loan History Researched by Home for Aged Resident

EDITOR'S NOTE

From a resident of the Jewish Home for the
Aged (Borman Hall) comes the accompanying in-
teresting feature.
Arthur Lipsitt makes research into back-
grounds and histories of local institutions a labor
of love. As a result, he has made a study of the
Hebrew Free Loan Association's activities and , has
compiled a record The Jewish News is pleased to
present to its readers.
Mr. Lipsitt had a personal interest of many
years in the Hebrew Free Loan, as a b _ oard member.
Mr. Lipsitt, a native of Toronto, Canada, came
to Detroit in 1918 to enroll in Detroit College of Law.
He never practiced law, having gone into business
under the firm name of National Beauty and
Barber Supply Co., with headquarters in
downtown Detroit. He was married to Betty David-
son. Because of his wife's illness, they both gained
residence in the Jewish Home for the Aged where
she died less than two years ago, and he retains his
residence there. He is 82 and has, two daughters,
Mrs. Arnold (Marilyn) Agree of Franklin and Mrs.
Donald (Eileen) Gildur of California.

By ARTHUR LIPSITT

The Hebrew Free Loan
Association had a humble
beginning in the year 1895
when it was granted a cor-
porate charter for the pur-
pose of helping the needy of
the community.
The association was in-
stalled in the old Hannah
Schloss Building on High
Street where the bewildered
immigrant could easily
come in and make a loan of
$5 to $25, which gave him
the element of indepen-
dence not afforded by an
outright gift.
The aim and purpose of
extending a helping hand
without the thought of re-
ward or remuneration for
the favor extended has at all
times been kept in the fore-
ground. The Hebrew Free
Loan Association's philos-
ophy is based on the Torah:
that "thou shalt not exact
interest from the needy
among us."
commercial
The

enterprises these new
immigrants concerned
themselves with in-
cluded, for the most part,
peddling fruits and veg-
etables, junk, metals,
bottles, or any other sal-
vage that had commer-
cial value. They needed
cash to pay the livery
man or for stock in trade.
In those early years, a
loan of $25 could go a long
way in purchasing value.
Renting a horse and wagon
each day was a very expen-
sive process for the peddler,
hence the urge to ask for a
loan from the association to
buy his own.
Time after time, the He-
brew Free Loan Association
served as a bridge between
failure and success, be-
tween hope and despair and
has safely carried families
from dependence to inde-
pendence.
As the association moved
northward with the com-
munity, its office was next

installed in the Kirby Cen-
ter. This building was used
at that time by the United
Hebrew Schools to house its
main school and high
school. The scope of the
association had broadened
considerably by this time
and the needs were larger,
the demands heavier.
Necessity was no
longer the single drive
which brought the appli-
cant to the association
door. Now, loans of
opportunity were found
in equal measure with
loans of necessity. People
were now seeking funds
to enter small businesses.
The clients of the associa-
tion, in some instances,
had prospered to the
point where they had be-
come taxpayers and
needed cash to pay taxes
or to make repairs to
property.
It was at this point in the
history of the Hebrew Free
Loan Association that the
Jewish Welfare Federation
was born. Although the
association is Jewish, it is
non-sectarian 'in its activi-
ties since Jewish law com-
pels us to help the needy of
all-creeds. The average loan
had grown and the range
was $50 to a ceiling of $200.
The Federation took note
of the large and varied na-
ture of demands for money
confronting the association
and generously filled and
underwrote part of these
demands.
The technique used to
make loans was relatively
simple. Most applicants
owned a watch or a ring
which could be used as col-
lateral. These were ap-
praised on the spot; at the
moment .the loan was
closed. With the steady

Ah, Springtime
in the suburbs.

Our March special
membership offer
is like a vacation.

Yes. with relatively Iilllr
traveling. ittirl very little money.
you can treat yourself to a 101

01 1hr Ihillgti 1 X'01 )1(• go out 01
10W11 lor. A luxurious XX)1.
ill1(1racqueaKill courts.

weight rootIL hatskett
courts. snick. and 'lime.
An( I you can have it for the
month of N larch Ibr just SID.
"I -his is rloubly renlarkril
when you consider that the
cost 01 On individual member-
ship is 5215 a var and that
nxntthlvnien lx7ships are not



Join art\ clay in March ill1(1
enjoy 31 c h iys of in dividual 14( n

eras themlx•rship* for just Sett.
\Vont to ki low num.? ( )I
otirse you t I0. Just pick up the
I hone ant I ask. its a local call.

&

JEWISH •
COMMUNITY
CENTER

OF METROPOLITAN DETROIT

itk .1 owl, I. Nil( big;

tit il-11

x

)3:1

M)

It isn't Florida,
but it's only $io.

one that membership per 12 month period.

• Family membership $15

ARTHUR LIPSITT

growth of the Jewish com-
munity, the board began to
find this technique in-
adequate to meet the more
varied needs of its borrow-
ers and so a new instrument
was added to the estab-
lished procedure. This was
the signing off-a promissory
note, endorsed by one or two
responsible members of the
community, depending on
the amount of the loan.
The board had consid-
ered the advisability ,of
closing out its collateral
division, but hesitated to
do so for fear that hard-
ship might result to some
of its borrowers. This
doubt was resolved dur-
ing the time of occupancy
of the Kirby Center when,
one quiet weekend, the
safe was blown open, and
all of the pledged jewelry
which had been stored
therein was stolen and
never recovered. This
was a crippling blow to
the association and, de-
spite the fact that it was
free of liability on techni-
cal grounds, the associa-
tion made reparations to
its many clients and it
survived the disaster.
When Jewish activities
on the near East Side trans-
ferred to the Twelfth Street
area, the Hebrew Free Loan
went along. It located its
offices in the very heart of
this district at the corner of
Clairmount and Twelfth.
Subsequently, its office
was moved to the corner of
Linwood and Blaine where
it found itself installed with
grandeur and grace for, not
only did it occupy a large
building which had once
been the branch of the de-
funct Nation Bank of De-
troit, but the next-door
neighbor was the Blaine
Street Shul.
This was a period of
feverish activity and fi-
nance following the Wall
Street crash and leading
into the war years. They
were the busiest years of the
association on both the
downward wave of the De-
pression and the upward
wave of recovery. It had a
permanent staff of two in
addition to a part-time staff
and a host of volunteers, all
kept quite busy.
The association moved
in successive stages and
over the years has been
located at the corner of
Linwood and Clair-
mount, Linwood and
Davison, Davison and
Petoskey in the Commu-
nity Center Branch

Building, Meyers Road,
and Ten Mile Road in
Oak Park. It is located
now in the United He-
brew Schools Building on
12 Mile Road in South-
field.
The association now
makes loans of various
amounts to $2,000, and in
exceptional cases even
higher. The doors of the
association were never
closed to its clients and were
even open during the bank
holiday years ago, when it
still operated on a cash
basis, never turning down a
worthwhile applicant.
It has served the commu-
nity through periods of ad-
versity and prosperity,
through refugee years and
the sorrows of Detroit resi-
dents. Applicants were
helped with loans for oppor-
tunity as well as loans of
necessity. Its loans have
reached from those of serv-
ing, stark poverty, through
growth and development
and opportunity, through,
times of joy and ceremony
for families celebrating
Bnai Mitzva and marriages,
and into illness and
tragedy. It has lent funds for
medical bills, funerals and
grave markers.
The loans in 1922 aver-
aged $27 and in 1928 the
average had grown to $101.
The fact that only $100 was
uncollectible during that
period is convincing evi-
dence that the average man
is honest, especially when
he knows that he has not
been exploited in the help
extended to him.
In 1922, $14,300 was
loaned; in 1937 the total
amount lent had increased
to $186,000.
At a special meeting of
the Board in 1941, a sum
of $10,000 was allocated
for making loans to
bringing relatives and
friends from Europe. For
that purpose, the
maximum amount lent to
any person was raised
from $300 to $600.

Henry Leopold, a past
president of the Detroit
HFL, is currently co-
president of the national
association.
Some members of the
board of directors, today,
are sons and daughters of
parents who spent many
years as members of the
board in previous ad-
ministrations of the asso-
ciation.
One such member of the
board was my brother-in-
law, the late Herman
Wetsman, who sat on the
board for. 28 years. Now his
son, William Wetsman, is a r i
board member serving in
his 32nd year.
Another member of the
board who has served with
distinction is Myron
Schiffman, who has served
as the Association's attor-
ney for years. The
recently-elected president,
Milton Marwil, follows in
the footsteps of his own
father who served as
president some 60 years
ago.
The men and women who
have devoted their time and
talents to the work of the
organization have done so
unselfishly, willingly, and_
faithfully.
* * *

Marwil Elected
HFL- President

MILTON MARWIL

The Hebrew Free Loan
Association held elections
for officers and directors at
At present, the associa- its February meeting.
tion has about $50,000 in- Newly elected officers are:
Milton Marwil, president;
vested in student loans on
Klein,
vice
which there is no interest; Emery
repayment does not start president; Sherwin
until graduation or the stu- Behrmann, treasurer; and
dent finds employment. Irwin Kahn, secretary.
Outgoing president
There are also more than
500 loans to Russian im- Graham Landau became a
migrants for various pur- life member of the Board of
Directors. Other life mem- 1
poses.
If one needs a car for bers are: Henry Auslander,
transportation to and from Jacob L. Keidan, Maurice
employment, a loan of Klein, Henry Leopold,
$1,000 can be made toward George Stutz, William
its purchase. A Russian Wetsman, Gus Newman,
university student emi- Charles Goldstein, Myron
grated with one more Schiffman, Lawrence
semester to finish before Crohn, and Julian Zemon.
graduation as a dentist; she Continuing as directors are:
was lent the necessary Marlene Borman, Havar-
funds to finiSh at one of our vey Deutch, Mitchell
Feldman, Miriam Fried-
universities.
Today, Hebrew free loan man, Herbert Goldstein,
agencies are located across Paul Hack, Jerome Kel-
the United States and man, Henry Lee, David Lip-
Canada, each dedicated to ton, Dr. Lawrence Loe-
the same noble and practi- wentha.1, John " Nemon,
cal objectives. In June 1982, Ruth Redstone, Dr. Harvey
a long-overdue event took Sabbota, Rabbi Dannel
place with the formation of Schwartz and Ralph
the Association of Hebrew Walker.
Free Loans at the first an-
Newly elected to the
nual gathering of free loan board were Sue Pappas and
agencies in Minneapolis. Spencer Partrich.

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