When Hirshy Minkowicz was growing up in a Hasidic enclave of Brooklyn 30 years ago, he often noticed visitors arriving after dinner to meet with his father. They would withdraw into the study, speak for a time, then part with some confidential agreement having been sealed.
As he grew into his teens, Hirshy came to learn that his father operated a traditional Jewish free-loan program called a gemach. The visitors, many of them teachers in local religious schools, struggling to raise their families on small and irregular salaries, had been coming to borrow money at no interest and with no public exposure.
Now 39 years old and serving as the rabbi of a Chabad center near Atlanta, Rabbi Minkowicz has done something he never expected: open a gemach that deals primarily with non-Orthodox Jews in a prosperous stretch of suburbia….