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Synagogue Clean Up Attracts Religious Leaders

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“Community leaders, clergy and nearly 800 people of various denominations gathered at the Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation Sunday to paint over swastikas and graffiti.

Organizers said the event was held to symbolically erase hateful messages spray-painted on the North Side synagogue one week ago.

""All of us here painting symbolizes the community of mankind coming
together,"" said Joseph Hart. ""It’s really a very beautiful response to a very ugly, ugly thing."" Hart, of the Ba’Hai faith, and hundreds of others gathered outside Agudas Achim on one of the coldest days of the winter. They passed around a paintbrush and took turns slapping white paint over swastikas.

Rabbi Ira Youdavin of the Chicago Board of Rabbis organized the event. ""You know the courage is for people to come back in here; the congregation, to come back in here,"" Youdavin said. ""You know it sends a sign.""

Kanan Rosenstein drove in from Naperville and says obscuring the graffiti is just part of the solution. ""The persons and the mindset that did this is my concern, and that can not be covered over with paint,"" Rosenstein said. ""That has to be cleaned from the inside out.""

Participants covered more than half of the graffiti on a 35-foot stretch of the synagogue after the hour-long ceremony of speeches and prayers inside.

Synagogue officials say city workers are expected to remove the rest of the graffiti sometime next week.”

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