California Synagogue Launches Effort to Save Temple

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A Jewish congregation hopes to blaze the trail again in unconventional thinking to save their temple from the auction block. Congregation Beth David is in default of their loan and has until May 5 to pay off the $2.3 million required to satisfy the bank. The Temple was the first LEED-Certified synagogue in the world, and gained national attention.

Congregation Beth David

I think our zealousness for this innovative, wonderful space combined with a lack of knowledge of what was to be in late 2008 with the economic crisis led us into this unfortunate situation

A Jewish congregation hopes to blaze the trail again in unconventional thinking to save their temple from the auction block. Congregation Beth David (CBD) is in default of their loan and has until May 5 to pay off the $2.3 million required to satisfy the bank.

The Temple, located on California's central coast in San Luis Obispo, was built in 2005 on 92 acres. The Temple was the first LEED-Certified synagogue in the world, and gained national attention. In addition to the building itself being sustainable, 62 acres were also designated as wetlands and permanent open space with the County. On the remaining 30 acres, adjoining the land on which the Temple is built, three lots were to be parceled out for future sale, intended to support the pay off of the loan. Permission for occupancy was gained in 2006.

After the nation's financial collapse in late 2008, CBD saw a dramatic decrease in support coming in for the Temple, as families buckled down to weather the poor economy. "I think our zealousness for this innovative, wonderful space combined with a lack of knowledge of what was to be in late 2008 with the economic crisis led us into this unfortunate situation," said Gregg Loberstein, who is co-president of the CBD Board of Directors, along with his wife, Debi. Loberstein adds that, in 2009, CBD recognized they would start having difficulty making the monthly interest payment, so contacted the bank to work on a sustainable solution. "We've worked with the bank for the last 18 months to try to structure a solution that worked for all involved. Though the bank did discount the payoff amount by $1 million, we weren't able to raise the balance before they took legal action."

What CBD did do, however, is get pledges for over $1 million, still leaving them approximately $1 million in the hole. "I think we've come up with a unique way to raise funds to save the Temple, and also give those coming forward with donations an opportunity as well," Loberstein says. Being the first in the world again, as far as they have been able to determine, they have put together a nonregistered offering within the Temple family, coupled with a request for additional donations from the extended community and the national Jewish community.

With the May 5 deadline looming, CBD is working hard to get the word out to the Jewish community locally and nationally, and to the community at large. The San Luis Obispo Tribune daily newspaper ran a story on the foreclosure, then followed the following day with an editorial encouraging community support of the community.

They will be launching a Facebook page later this week that will carry specific information about their efforts and be updated regularly, visit http://www.facebook.com/CongregationBethDavid for more information. Visitors to the Facebook page and the CBD website can make donations of any size online in either place, right on the spot.

Congregation Beth David was founded in San Luis Obispo in 1959 and the group of 200 families is led by Rabbi Scott Corngold. For more information on supporting Congregation Beth David, visit them online at http://www.cbdslo.org or call (805) 544-0760.

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Gregg Loberstein
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