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Hebrew Free Loan launched a new Environmental Loan Program in 2023 to help people who want to live more sustainably but can’t afford the cost. Clean energy solutions like solar panels and electric cars save money over the long run, but they require an initial outlay of funds that’s more than some people can handle. Our interest-free loans of up to $20K can change that. 

We’re grateful to Maddy Chaleff and David Arfin, whose generous donation is providing capital to fund these initial environmental loans. The couple’s support of this program is a natural extension of their longtime commitment to finding innovative ways to finance environmental projects, which began in 2006 when they saw Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth. 

Their own home needed a new roof at the time, and the film inspired them to explore going solar, but they were shocked by the cost. David, a natural born entrepreneur and problem solver, came up with the idea that they and others could lease solar panels rather than buy them. 

We take it for granted today, but this was the birth of solar financing: an industry-changing standard that has made it possible for millions of people to adopt solar power without a huge upfront investment. David joined what was then SolarCity, and he went on to dedicate his career to finding innovative financing models for clean energy technologies. He’s currently the Co-Founder and CEO at NineDot Energy, where he’s working on projects to develop clean energy solutions for New York City. 

It’s been 15 years since Maddy and David started exploring how to put a solar roof on their house, and they continue to look for opportunities to address climate change. Starting Hebrew Free Loan’s Environmental Loan Program was a natural fit, bringing together David’s environmental expertise with Maddy’s long history of professional leadership and volunteer engagement with nonprofits. Here’s what Maddy and David say about their decision: 

“We’re living in a time when the climate is in crisis. We need governments and institutions to take large steps, and we need individuals to take small steps, to collectively do what we can to reverse the changes to our climate. Hebrew Free Loan is a way to help people do the right thing. There are solutions out there; some of them take money and require an upfront investment. If people can make capital purchases that protect the environment and pay for them over time with an interest-free loan, that’s a win for everyone.” 

The added value that our loan funds are “recycled” isn’t lost on Maddy and David. Funds are loaned out to help someone with a project, paid back in 3-5 years, and then loaned out again, as the cycle repeats itself. The Environmental Loan Program is doubly sustainable: it’s about the concept of sustainability and, like all our programs at Hebrew Free Loan, it embodies a sustainable financial model.  

The Environmental Loan Program is grounded in two Jewish values, tikkun olam (repairing the world) and shmirat ha-adamah (care of the earth). What better time than now to act on these values by doing our part, individually and collectively, to address climate change. Maddy and David describe it this way: 

“We hope that the Environmental Loan Program is wildly successful, and people who have been on the fence about undertaking environmental projects will be encouraged to move forward. And we hope that other donors will be inspired to contribute and help grow the program to scale. With the increase in extreme weather events and natural disasters, it’s clear that the climate is changing. Now is the moment for all of us to rise to the challenge and do our part.” 

CLICK HERE to learn more or apply for an interest-free environmental loan. Loans are available to help people increase energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, conserve resources, protect the climate, and/or reduce waste. 

As with all our loan programs, these new environmental loans are need-based. Their purpose is to provide gap funding that makes it possible for applicants to move forward with projects they might not otherwise be able to afford. 

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