Loans and grants making a difference

Loans and grants making a difference

Jewish Vocational Service awards aid to deserving college students

Liz and Max Kravitz
Liz and Max Kravitz

Jewish Vocational Service of MetroWest is making college more affordable with a grant and no-interest loan program available to full-time higher education students from the area.

The grants for graduate students are $10,000. Undergraduates are eligible for $3,000 no-interest loans.

Last year, three scholarship awards and 12 student loans were approved. This year’s application deadline is June 1.

The grants come as a welcome relief for Ora Jacobsen, a Hebrew Union College rabbinic student in South Orange, and Max Kravitz, a University of Arizona nursing student from Montclair who will graduate this summer.

As full-time graduate students, both were eligible for the $10,000 grants, which are renewable each year that the recipients are in school.

“It’s really helpful to feel a sense of relief that I don’t have to worry about that when being a full-time student and student pulpit rabbi,” said Ms. Jacobsen, 39, whose first career was in theater management. “I’m really grateful that I don’t have to take out loans or have to work extra on the side. I’m really grateful.”

The grants are funded by the Belle Shapiro Scholarship Foundation and are designated for students in medicine, nursing, and Jewish education, Michael Andreas, JVS’s executive director, said.

The loan program started 46 years ago, he continued. In that time, 1,500 loans, totaling $3 million, have been given to 750 students. The Belle Shapiro Scholarship Foundation was formed in 2004.

Ora Jacobsen

“We’re trying to increase awareness so more people take advantage of the program,” Mr. Andreas said. “Let’s face it — the cost of college has gone up tremendously and kids need the ability to have that extra money they need to go to school.

“They can focus on their studies because they get a loan from us.”

Mr. Andreas said the $3,000 loans are meant to take care of supplies like a laptop and books. “It’s really that last money that students need to be able to go to school.”

“This money really came in handy,” said Mr. Kravitz, 32, who is living in Tucson with his wife, Liz, to attend nursing school. “This program out of state is a fortune. We pulled out all our savings and still didn’t have enough to satisfy tuition.”

The payment plan for the loans starts one year after graduation. The loan recipient can take five years to pay it back with no interest,

“The reason we award $3,000 is we know that these kids today take on so much debt, and we don’t want them to be over-burdened,” Mr. Andreas said.

Mr. Kravitz believes that JVS saw him as having great potential as a nurse. “They were very impressed by my decision as a male to choose nursing and by my commitment to working with children,” he said. Before nursing school, he’d worked for a large brewery in Oregon. “I think that really left a mark on their team. I was awarded the grant, and it made a huge difference.”

For more information about the JVS Scholarship Program, call Mr. Andreas at (862) 704-2281 or email

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