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Shoemakers’ guild and executive of the Linas Hatzedek (Kielce, Poland), [191-?]. Ontario
Jewish Archives, item 1518 © Ontario Jewish Archives

About JFLT

Our Mandate, History, and Leadership

אִם־כֶּ֣סֶף תַּלְוֶ֣ה אֶת־עַמִּ֗י אֶת־הֶֽעָנִי֙ עִמָּ֔ךְ לֹא־תִהְיֶ֥ה ל֖וֹ כְּנֹשֶׁ֑ה לֹֽא־תְשִׂימ֥וּן עָלָ֖יו נֶֽשֶׁךְ׃

“If you lend money to My people, even to the poor among you, do not act toward them as a creditor; you shall not charge them interest.” – Exodus 22:24

אֶ֨ת־כַּסְפְּךָ֔ לֹֽא־תִתֵּ֥ן ל֖וֹ בְּנֶ֑שֶׁךְ וּבְמַרְבִּ֖ית לֹא־תִתֵּ֥ן אׇכְלֶֽךָ׃
“You shall not lend him your money at interest, or give him your food for profit.” – Leviticus 25:37

 

The strength of Jewish Free Loan Toronto’s mandate, drawn from the Torah, lies in its simplicity. An interest-free loan is a singular form of financial assistance that can provide direct support in a wide variety of scenarios.

JFLT is proud to maintain a 99% repayment rate. Since 1924, JFLT has provided millions of dollars in assistance to thousands of borrowers.

Borrowers feel dignified and empowered, knowing that with each repayment, they are playing a central role in ensuring that funds will be available to other Jews in need.

Donors feel confident and uplifted, knowing that the impact of every dollar they give will be multiplied over the years, decades, and perhaps even centuries as capital is lent out time and again.

Our History

Early 1900s
European Jews Arrive in Canada

In the early 1900s, many European Jews arrived in Canada in search of a better life. As procuring employment proved difficult (especially for the observant) early versions of communal loan societies sprung up. Some offered start-up loans for small business ventures while others such as the Loan Cassa helped settle Jews in agricultural areas. As the Cassa evolved, it joined forces with the United Jewish Relief Agency and the Canadian Jewish Congress, and also began to offer business loans.

1911 - 1917
Free Loan Society

In 1911, a Free Loan Society was formed in Toronto under the name of Associated Hebrew Charities (AHC). Operating on a very informal basis, with promissory notes being guaranteed by community members, the decision was ultimately made to disband AHC in 1917, due to various economic pressures.

1922
Hebrew Free Loan Association

In 1922, Rabbi Barnett Brickner recommended that a new Free Loan Society be created, this time under auspices and financial backing of B’nai Brith and private donors. With $3,800 from B’nai Brith and $1,350 from donors, the first meeting of the Hebrew Free Loan Association took place on December 7th, 1922 at the Zionist Institute, at the corner of Beverly and Cecil Streets.

1924
Toronto G’Milath Chasodim Association

On July 12, 1924, Letters Patent were signed and sealed incorporating the Toronto G’Milath Chasodim Association. “Twelve Jewish men, all of the City of Toronto, in the County of York and Province of Ontario” were the founding members of this corporation, whose mandate it was “to assist deserving applicants for relief.” Around this time, B’nai Brith and National Council of Jewish Women began to provide loans to university students.

1957
Scholarship In Aid

In 1957, when additional community support was required for these loans, the Scholarship In Aid program was created under the auspices of the United Jewish Welfare Fund. Toronto Hebrew Re-Establishment Services later assumed responsibility for the administration of this program.

1985
Toronto Jewish Free Loan Cassa Association

Finally recognizing that the community would be best served by a single interest-free lending organization, TJFLC (Toronto Jewish Free Loan Cassa (G’milath Chasodim) Association) was formed in 1985 through a merger of Toronto’s business, personal and educational loan agencies. In 2011, the Board of Directors changed the name to Jewish Free Loan Toronto.

Watch a video of the intake counsellor who worked at JFLT in the 1940s:

Our Leadership

Leo Vaisman President

Leo is an experienced entrepreneur and investor. He is the president of a private holdings company specializing in venture capital, derivatives and equity investing. Prior to becoming president Leo served as a member on many of JFLT’s committees.

Marra Messinger Executive Director

Marra Messinger has been the Executive Director (ED) of Jewish Free Loan Toronto (JFLT) since 2014. In less than five years, she has succeeded in raising the profile of the Agency, attracting new supporters, cementing partnerships with other Community organizations and increasing loan numbers. To all of her positions, Marra brings creativity, compassion and professionalism.

 

Executive

LAST NAME FIRST NAME POSITION
Vaisman Leo President
Shiner Alan Vice President
Frieberg Seth Treasurer
Camhi Ingrid Loan Co-Chair
Atlas Mike Loan Co-Chair
Weisz Leslie Past President

Directors

LAST NAME FIRST NAME
Baum Tali
Brown Mitch
Catz Mariana
Frank Eva
Grubert Nolan
Kumer Howard
Landis Jeff
Pillersdorf Sarah
Reichert Rochelle
Schlanger David

Learn more about the impact that JFLT has in the community: