SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) – The world’s first green-certified synagogue is facing foreclosure.
Congregation Beth David in San Luis Obispo, Calif., says it must raise $1.3 million by May 5 or the bank will foreclose on its $3.3 million loan. The building would be put up for auction on May 17.
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...
Gee, and the whole thing sounded so viable (for ducks and/or farmers, at least; for praying Jews, not so much).
Though I doubt this is of much consolation to the members of the synagogue who are now stuck with the $18,000/month interest (only!) payments, this news item has an apposite ironic quality. Soren Kierkegaard, the great Danish philosopher and theologian, famously argued that, although analytico-syntehtic arguments for the existence of God could provide some measure of support for the thesis that God exists, ultimately the believer had to take a "leap of faith" to believe in Him.
Well, this late in the Environmental Theater of the Absurd we have all been watching since the 1960s, the leap of faith the good congregants of Beth David had to take to believe in the existence of God is nothing compared to the one they had to take to believe they could really have an economically viable ecologically "sustainable" system.
Although I now make my living as a physical therapist, this is a second career for me. I was a mechanical engineer for many years previously. In all the time I was an engineer, going back to my university days in the 1970s, I have yet to see a large-scale "green" system that could operate without a subsidy (and, with enough of a subsidy, I could grow Florida Valencias on the moon!).
Though the average rabbi might not have the technical background to evaluate the economic viability of such a system, surely, among 200 families belonging to this synagogue, some members must have had the technical and financial background to assess it realistically. That no one, presumably, came forward to orient the good rabbi to reality is a powerful attestation of the quasi-religious nature of "environmentalism." (Though, really, how much technical background does it take to figure out that 62 acres of "wetlands," what we used to--and mostly still do--call a _swamp_ here in Florida might not be a shrewd real estate investment?)
Lest the good folk of Beth David feel too bad about having been had by the Green scammers, one sees a great deal of this sort of neo-pagan, Gaia-worshipping mentality in the Christian churches as well. (Moslems, on the other hand, seem pretty oblivious to it, which is probably a bad sign for our side.
As an active member for many years of a synagogue that's on dry land (with nary a duck in sight), I know how challenging it is for it to remain up and running--and, ideally, for it to thrive. Perhaps if the members of Beth David had concerned themselves as much with spiritual matters as they did with environmental one, their synagogue would have been able to survive.
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