The original Toronto Hebrew Free Loan agency was formed in 1911 under the Associated Hebrew Charities. Its Hebrew name was G'milath Chasodim, which means to do good deeds. Initially all of the loans that it gave out were guaranteed by individuals from the community. This body went into debt in 1917. In 1922, with the administrative support of the Toronto Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and the financial support of B'nai Brith, a new free loan society was established.
The first president was Sam Kronick, the vice president was Nathan Phillips, and the treasurer was Elias Pullan—three extremely high profile citizens within the community and Toronto. The first meeting was held at the Zionist Institute on Beverley Street. By 1923 they had hired a secretary and executive secretary, Moses Oelbaum. The society was incorporated on 12 July 1924. Their mandate was to prevent pauperism and preserve the self respect of individuals. Many of the early loans that came in during that period were through referrals from other Jewish organizations. In 1925, they reviewed 625 applications and approved 510 loans which ranged from $25 to $200, allocating $9307.92 in total. They did not charge interest and had the borrower repay the loan at a rate of $2 to $10 a week.
In 1942 the Moses Oelbaum fund was established with capital of $10,000. Historically, B'nai Brith and the National Council of Women provided the funds for student loans. In 1957, the Scholarship Aid program began to operate under the auspices of the United Jewish Welfare Fund. By 1974, the THLA had given out over 5 million dollars in loans to over 20,000 families. In 1985, through a merger of Toronto's business, personal and educational loan agencies, the Toronto Jewish Free Loan Cassa was formed.
Today, the Loan Cassa has over 700 active clients and gives out over $1,500,000 in loans each year to the needy as well as in the form of scholarships and business start up loans. The rate of defaults has been extremely low, less than one percent. As a result, this program has helped strengthen the community by sustaining and investing in its members. The name was formally changed to Jewish Free Loan Toronto in 2012.
Scope and Content
The records consist of minutes of meetings, correspondence, financial statements, loan ledger books, loan guarantee cards, case files, cash books and receipts, court records relating to trusts and wills and other material.
Toronto Jewish Free Loan Association
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.