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PHIL JACOBS EDITOR
"A loan is better than charity, for it
enables one to help himself."
liezer Jaffe loves to tell sto-
There's the Russian bal-
lerina who needed to get a
start on her new life as an Israeli.
There's the artist who put up
piece of his work as collateral.
Then, there's the Ethiopian fam-
ily who had next to nothing, yet
dreamed of a home in Jerusalem.
Dr. Jaffe, the unpaid chairman
of the Israel Free Loan Associa-
tion, is helping make more of
these stories happen. The IFLA,
which follows the models of free
loan associations in the
Diaspora, was founded in April
Some $4 million in IFLA loans
are in circulation, serving most-
ly Soviet and Ethiopian olim as
well as Israelis with large fami-
lies. Since its inception, IFLA has
provided approximately 5,000 in-
terest-free loans, representing
five loan categories. The areas in-
clude general and emergency
loans for rent, housing needs,
food, health and dental care, fur-
niture, debt consolidation, basic
home repairs, special-education
needs and other more urgent re-
Loans are available for small
businesses, to students, to needy
families with four or more chil-
dren, and for homes for Ethiopi-
ans living in hotels, caravans or
Loans average about $2,500.
However, monies up to $12,000
are available for business, emer-
gency needs, housing and college
Recipients must be working
and be able to provide two guar-
antors who also are working. Re-
cipients must work out a
repayment schedule and provide
post-dated checks for repayment.
"Listen, life is a loan, and I feel
it's important for all of us to give
back something," said Dr. Jaffe,
who immigrated to Israel 35 years
ago and now serves as professor
in the school of social welfare at
Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
"The real shame is for people
not to use us. Because, typically
we can be of help." 
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