Rodney’s deep affinity for Jewish culture began in childhood. His father shared stories of fleeing discrimination in the South, and finding refuge, support and employment with a Jewish family in Chicago as he began his new life. Rodney’s father enjoyed special holiday meals with the family, but he always politely declined the gefilte fish!

Rodney’s understanding of the Jewish faith and its teachings became clearer as he grew older. In college, he attended Hillel dinners and lectures. He loved the concept of helping others through mitzvot, which paralleled with the values his parents instilled in him. 

Rodney first came to JFLA as a client when struggling to meet his expenses as an undergraduate at Claremont McKenna College. He was grateful to receive a student loan that wouldn’t leave him with unmanageable fees and interest. After graduating, while working full time at a law firm, Rodney needed some unexpected and very costly dental work.. Remembering JFLA’s commitment to helping with a hand up, not a handout, Rodney felt comfortable returning for another loan. He wasn’t looking for charity and appreciated that his pride and dignity didn’t falter through the process. He was treated well and with respect. People often think JFLA is only for those who are Jewish, but that is simply not the case – it’s for all races, creeds, orientations – we are truly here for everyone.

After Rodney’s loans were repaid, he remained in touch with JFLA – wanting to give back as they had given to him. As Rodney said, “having been in a situation of need and moving up and past that, you get a little removed.” Not wanting to lose sight of the importance of the JFLA loan, Rodney wanted to contribute and add a voice to those in need – having been there himself. “There are people in all walks of life who may need assistance – like during COVID or the various strikes in our city – they may not be insolvent or homeless but in need of assistance during a transitional point in their life.” For the last two years, Rodney has served on the loan committee, hearing the anonymous stories of struggle or hardship, and determining who and how to help is extremely rewarding for him. He loves being able to give back to those he can now help through his service on the loan committee.

JFLA Assistant