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Scene of L.A. shooting rampage filled with young campers again

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 17 (JTA) — The North Valley Jewish Community Center reopened Monday with nearly full attendance, six days after a shooting rampage shocked the nation and wounded three children, a teen-age camp counselor and a receptionist. One hundred and twenty-eight out of 130 campers and 37 out of 40 preschoolers showed up at the center and were greeted with welcoming banners, a media throng, and heavy police and private security. To lighten the mood, Monday was designated “funny hair day.” Also on hand was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, joined by a delegation of area clergy. He called for a “coalition of consciousness.” “There is a sense that we are underestimating the number of guns, technical capabilities and the will to injure in our country,” Jackson said. Inside the building, a magician, a clown and a disc jockey entertained participants in the center’s preschool, camp and senior citizen programs. In the lobby, bullet holes had been patched over, walls repainted and new carpeting and walls installed. “The community center is back on its feet,” Jeffrey Rouss, executive vice president of the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times. “We want to demonstrate to ourselves that evil will not stop us.” Among those returning were three of the wounded, Joshua Stepakoff and James Zidell, both 6, and receptionist Isabelle Shalometh, 68. The most seriously wounded, 5-year old Benjamin Kadish, remained in serious but stable condition in a hospital. Camp counselor Mindy Finkelstein, 16, is still recuperating at home.