Members of a synagogue in Corona are protesting the possible foreclosure of their house of worship. Congregation Beth Shalom says the bank refuses to negotiate — and they could be left homeless.
About 30 members of Congregation Beth Shalom and their supporters rallied on the sidewalk outside California Bank and Trust in Corona. The congregation, with about 70 families, moved into their new building about three years ago.
“We built our building at probably the exact wrong time, because of the financial crisis that was taking place in the country," said synagogue president Bruce Williams. Just as people settled into the new space, membership flatlined, Williams added.
Contributions dried up and the congregation couldn’t make its mortgage payments. They still owe about one-and-a-half million dollars.
Williams said the congregation has offered to make partial payments. “We have tried and the bank has not accepted those partial payments.”
So Beth Shalom filed for bankruptcy in the hopes of delaying eviction. Williams said that if the bank does foreclose, the building will probably stand empty for a long time.
“It’s zoned for a religious institution," Williams said, "and it sits in a residential area, so it can’t be rezoned for anything else, so if they take it over, that building is just gonna sit and decay. We’d have to find a new home. They’re basically trying to shut us down and take us out of business.”
California Bank and Trust said it couldn’t comment on the specifics of the loan. A bankruptcy hearing is set for the end of the month.