A Temecula City Council member who serves on the Riverside Transit Agency has helped one of his city’s synagogues receive a donated van.
City Councilman Jeff Comerchero, who also serves as vice chairman of the RTA Board of Directors, recently assisted in the the donation of a white 2007 Ford Allstar van to Temple Beth Sholom from RTA.
Despite the California Constitution's "No Aid Clauses,” which prohibit use of public funds to aid any religious group or sectarian purpose, for years the RTA has donated vehicles to churches, as well as cities, senior centers and non-profit agencies, according to RTA spokesman Brad Weaver. The vehicles have surpassed their recommended service life and are no longer capable of remaining in the active fleet, he said.
The RTA was established as a Joint Powers Agency in the 1970s and is the transportation service agency for western Riverside County.
The synagogue recently relocated to Temecula from Sun City, and reportedly nearly half its members--many of them elderly--still reside in the Sun City/Menifee area.
“This is exactly what we were hoping for,” said Student Rabbi Sandy Rosenstein during a recent key-passing ceremony at RTA’s Riverside headquarters. “Getting to and from our services is going to be a lot easier for so many people. We are so thrilled about this.”
The donated van seats up to 12 people and two wheelchairs and will serve at least three stops in the Sun City area. The synagogue is located at 26790 Ynez Court, Ste. B, in Temecula.
Comerchero said the donation program prolongs the life of useful vehicles and allows groups such as the Temple Beth Sholom to enhance their services.
“This is such a great opportunity and a worthy cause,” he said. “This vehicle is getting a longer, more productive life and making a positive difference in our community.”