Jewish American Group Tzedek: Responsibly Investing Through Jewish Values

Tzedekâh meaning justice or righteousness in Hebrew seems commensurate to the very same name of a group which is dedicated to community investing in low and moderate-income neighborhoods. Through education, organizing, and lending, Tzedec creates partnerships between Jewish investors and these communities.

By collecting low and even no-interest loans from Jewish philanthropic investors, the program not only encourages other Jews to give back but to create professional partnerships of trust and mutual benefit with communities in need. Tzedek reinvests those funds in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to serve individuals, businesses, and nonprofits typically neglected by mainstream banks. Tzedek credits it success on Jewish values.

By fulfilling Judaism’s tzedakah teachings, Tzedek is able to emphasize partnership and investment as the highest form of giving. In result, Tzedec’s mission of social justice energizes Jews and attracts unaffiliated Jewish activists and funders alike to Jewish life.

Since 1997, the Tzedec community investment program has organized more than $20 million in funds from the American Jewish community to create housing, jobs, and small businesses in low and moderate-income communities.

Tzedec promotes visible Jewish community investment in low and moderate-income neighborhoods. Working with Jewish federations, synagogues, foundations, and individuals, Tzedec brings Jewish investments – lending capital – to economically disadvantaged neighborhoods long-neglected by mainstream financial institutions.

Did you know?

Tzedec’s $100,000 Katrina Investment Deposit in Liberty Bank and Trust has helped finance the reconstruction of New Orleans and enabled its residents to rebuild their lives. Tzedec’s $180,000 investment in Cornerstone, Inc. has also helped create safe housing and positive living situations for mentally-ill residents of Washington, DC. The organization has many more accolades as well.

Queue the numbers:

As of June 2007, Tzedec has organized $1.3 million in Washington, DC, $1.3 million in Los Angeles, $1.4 million in Baltimore, $1.8 million in the Gulf Region, and is developing an initiative in South Florida. Tzedec investment activity is also underway in Boston, Philadelphia, and the Gulf Region, in response to hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. The organization’s current loan fund stands at $7.3 million, with 81 investors, loans, and deposits in 36 CDFIs across the country. What’s more is that these numbers are growing.

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