Like their clients, several local Jewish agencies that serve the poor are struggling mightily.
Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) and other Jewish nonprofits have recently lost millions in government funding at a time when demand for their services has skyrocketed. That has strained their ability to care for the indigent and threatens the health of existing programs.
When Mark Meltzer became executive director of the Jewish Free Loan Association (JFLA) in 1980, the agency had $800,000 in total assets, the equivalent of three and a half full-time employees and largely made interest-free loans to people for groceries, car repairs and other such emergencies. In the words of JFLA President and long-time board member Jim Kohn, JFLA was "small, unknown and stuck in the corner somewhere."