Jewish groups have received millions of PPP loans. Some have nevertheless laid off staff.

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More than 1,000 Jewish organizations have received federal coronavirus relief loans totaling about $ 540 to $ 1.3 billion.

Recipients included several organizations that laid off employees during or immediately after the loan period, suggesting that the aid legislation did not prevent a financial crisis among Jewish organizations.

The numbers were revealed as part of a massive data dump Monday by the Trump administration, which initially released details of its small business loans between $ 150,000 and $ 10 million. The loans were made under the Paycheck Protection Program, which provided money for payroll and other expenses from a $ 660 billion relief fund.

An analysis of the data carried out in part by Jewish technologist Russel Neiss provided the figures for Jewish groups that received loans greater than $ 150,000. Loan amounts were given in dollars rather than exact amounts.

Jewish groups had organized quickly to apply for the loans, with the Jewish Federations of North America, a national fundraising organization, providing advice on the application process. Half of the Jewish organizations that applied received the loans, according to the organization. A formula determined the amount of each grant.

The main purpose of the loans was to prevent layoffs in the context of the current economic downturn by allowing companies to continue paying wages. Companies that reduced their payroll by more than 25% within eight weeks of receiving the loans had to repay at least some of the money.

At least seven Jewish organizations received loans between $ 5 million and $ 10 million, according to Neiss’ analysis. All but one are headquartered in the New York metropolitan area. They are:

  • The Anti-Defamation League
  • The Orthodox Union, an umbrella Orthodox Jewish organization
  • The Union for Reformed Judaism, an umbrella Reformed Jewish organization
  • The Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, a community fundraising organization
  • The Flatbush Yeshivah, a Jewish school in New York
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel School, a Jewish school in New York
  • United Hebrew, a home for the elderly in New Rochelle, New York

Among the approximately 1,100 other Jewish groups that received loans were hundreds of synagogues, day schools, community centers and Jewish federations. Almost half received loans of less than $ 350,000. 70 Faces Media, the parent company of the Jewish Telegraph Agency, also received a loan.


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Several organizations have laid off employees despite receiving the loans. The Jewish Federations of North America, which was approved for a loan of $ 2-5 million on April 14, dismissed up to 37 staff members in early May, or around 20% of its workforce. A spokesperson for the group did not comment on the layoffs, but a fact sheet on the group’s website said the loan money could be used for severance pay and other expenses in addition to the salary.

Two groups that received the largest loans were also fired: the Orthodox Union and the Union for Reform Judaism, two faith-based organizations.

URJ was approved for loan on April 15. More than eight weeks later, on June 30 – after the loan period – he dismissed 60 employees. A spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

The Orthodox Union dismissed or put on leave 125 employees in early April – a quarter of its workforce. Shortly thereafter, on April 14, it was approved for the government loan of at least $ 5 million. OU outgoing executive vice president Allen Fagin told the Jewish Telegraph Agency in an interview last month that the organization’s income had fallen sharply and some employees’ jobs were no longer relevant. in a world without face-to-face interaction.

“As you can imagine, the program fees, which had become an increasingly important part of our budget, have essentially ended, including things like summer programs,” Fagin said. says JTA. “And our philanthropic income, charitable giving, has declined dramatically. “

Hillel International, the umbrella organization for Jewish academic centers, was approved for a loan of $ 2-5 million on April 14. Later in the month he dismissed or put on leave 30 employees, about 20% of its workforce. In a statement, the organization said that “targeted reductions in our Hillel International workforce” was one of many steps it has taken to weather the pandemic, and that due to the loan and others fundraisers, “we were able to increase staff retention.”

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee was approved for its $ 2-5 million loan on April 13. On May 22, the aid group punish 15 people in the United States and 38 abroad. The payroll abroad was not covered by the loan.

“Our loan approval on April 13 allowed us to keep these 15 valuable US personnel longer than we could have done without the loan,” the organization said in a statement. “If we had not secured the loan, which has proven invaluable to our ability to keep our US personnel employed for as long as possible, the number of those employees who would ultimately have been laid off would unfortunately have been much higher. “

Boston’s Jewish federation, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, received a similar loan on April 7. dismissed 25 employees.

Jewish Community Centers in the Three Bay Area – the San Francisco JCC, JCC Peninsula in Foster City and Oshman Family TCG in Palo Alto – were approved for loans in early April and laid off some of their staff in June.

The relief period ended on June 30. With the financial effects of the pandemic extending into the foreseeable future, Congress appears to be is preparing to offer a second round of loans later this summer, likely with more stringent eligibility requirements.

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