Interest-free loans available for higher education for Jewish students

by | Jul 16, 2018 | Other News

JELF (Jewish Educational Loan Fund) has assisted the Jewish community since 1889 when the doors of the Hebrew Orphans’ Home first opened in Atlanta, Georgia. Since its inception, JELF has served the five-state region of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia (excluding metro-DC). JELF assists students with ‘last dollar’ loans.

In 2017, nine Jewish students from Tidewater applied to JELF with a total need of $44,632. Of this, JELF funded $38,210 in ‘last dollars’ for these students’ higher education. Without JELF’s loans, these students would have needed to take out high interest-bearing loans—creating a cycle of bad debt for years.

Elli Friedman, a local JELF recipient, says, “I graduated from James Madison University in May with a BBA in accounting and am now going back to get a Masters in tax. After having such a hard time finding scholarships and loans for graduate school, JELF made it so easy. I just wish I knew about it sooner!”

In each community that JELF serves, the organization partners with a local agency who meets with local applicants. In Tidewater, JELF partners with Jewish Family Service.

Jodi Mandel Hirschfield, a Richmond native, recently visited Tidewater in her new role as JELF assistant director of development and was struck by the closeness of the community and J E L F ’ s ties. “For me, being able to share the mission of JELF to this community feels like coming home. Being from Richmond, I spent a lot of time growing up in Tidewater and am so proud of what JELF is doing to aid the Jewish community’s students here.”

JELF has two application periods: March 1–April 30 for the full upcoming school year (fall, spring, and summer); and September 1–30 for the following spring and/or summer terms.

For more information about applying or to make a donation, visit or email