An interfaith coalition erased medical debts for over 2,000 people in the Chicago area, inspired by an ancient Jewish custom


(JTA) — More than half of bankruptcies in the United States are connected to medical debt. For some families in the Chicago area, however, that debt is being erased in accordance with the Jewish law of shmita, the sabbatical year.

The Torah’s shmita laws prescribe that, every seven years, all agricultural activity in the Land of Israel is forbidden, and the land must be left fallow. There are many specific rules, including prohibition against plowing, pruning and planting. But a lesser-known custom in observance of the shmita year is the release of all debts. After all, in biblical time...

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