Our Mission: Gemilut Hesed
Gemilut Hesed is generally translated as an “act of loving-kindness,” and usually refers to a special type of mitzvah that is performed with no expectation of any reward.
According to the great 12th Century Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon (Maimonides), there are eight degrees of charity, each one higher than the other. The highest degree is to aid a Jew in want by offering him a gift or a loan, by entering into partnership with him, or by providing work for him, so that he may become self-supporting, without having to ask people for anything.
The Torah uses the word “lend” not “gift”. Why a loan? A loan allows the recipient to maintain his dignity. A loan has psychological benefits over a hand out.
What is the purpose of “in that which he lacks“? To emphasize that, within reason, a person of means who encounters poverty should receive tzedakah in an amount to assist him in achieving the lifestyle to which he was accustomed.
The mission of the Hebrew Free Loan Association of Houston is to provide a source of funds to Jews of Houston in a confidential interest free loan.
The Hebrew Free Loan Association of Houston was formed in 1932, a time of financial turmoil for both the country and the Houston Jewish community. During the Great Depression, the overwhelming need for a free loan society in Houston was met through the efforts of presidents Ben Hurwitz, Louis Rosenberg, Louis Bale, Abe Sampson and Abe Silverman. Many Jewish business were able to survive the period with the assistance from the Association.
As prosperity gradually returned to Houston during the 1940s and 1950s, the broad needs of the community diminished. Nonetheless, the Association continued, as it does to this day, to lend assistance to individuals enduring their own personal financial crises. During this time, under the leadership of presidents Joseph Sandler and David White, membership in the Association remained constant enough to allow the Association to meet the needs of the community. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Association, under the leadership of Morris Catchman, actively sought to increase membership and the number of loans made. Upon Mr. Catchman’s death, Henry Spira assumed the role of president, and implemented liberal loan policies which afforded financial assistance for almost any crisis category, as well as providing assistance to refugees from the Soviet Union. In 1988, Mr. Spira passed the leadership role of the Association to Bernard Dworsky. During the 1990s, Mr. Dworsky expanded the Association’s membership to reach new members from all branches of Houston’s Jewish community, established a Special Fund for the most needy who were not able to obtain guarantors, and began fund raising programs aimed towards foundations and other institutions. In 1999, Scott Davis was elected president of the Association ushering in a new era of community awareness and financial stability of the Association. In 2006, leadership of the Association was entrusted to Jeffrey Horowitz as President, Dr. Harvey Rosenstock in 2010, Bryan Miller in 2014, and David Loev in 2016.