Worlds first green-certified synagogue in San Luis Obispo may face auction block

The world’s first green-certified synagogue is facing foreclosure. Congregation Beth David in San Luis Obispo said it must raise $2.3 million by May 5 or the bank will foreclose on its $3.3 million loan. The building would be put up for auction May 17.

As of May 4, around $1.7 million had been raised, according to the synagogue’s Facebook page.

Beth David was built in 2005 and became the world’s first LEED-certified synagogue. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building standard that signals a design aimed at minimizing environmental impact and saving natural resources.

The building was constructed on 92 acres, including 62 acres of wetlands and 30 acres that were intended for sale as agricultural land, with the proceeds helping to pay off the bank loan, according to the congregation. But the community has been hard hit by the economic downturn, and dues from the 200 member families weren’t enough to keep up with the $18,000 interest-only monthly payments.

The bank forgave $1 million of the original loan, and the temple has been able to raise

$1 million internally, but is now “turning to the national Jewish community for help,” said synagogue board co-president Gregg Loberstein. “We’ve got a bit of a hill to climb, but we believe we can get it done in time.”

The congregation has a Facebook page ( to keep track of donations, and it has drawn some media attention, including a recent piece on MSNBC. — jta