An uneasy normalcy in L.A.

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At the North Valley Jewish Community Center, life is returning to normal. Seniors take classes, friends chat in the lobby, campers play outside.

Less than a week after a gunman marched into the JCC lobby in Granada Hills and opened fire, the institution has made a defiant statement against fear: It will go on being the community center it always was.

In fact, nearly all of its young campers and preschoolers returned Monday.

Among them was 6-year-old Joshua Stepakoff, who was hit in the leg by a bullet and is now in a cast and crutches. He and his parents showed great courage in coming back so soon.

Of course, we must acknowledge that the community is changed forever in many ways, and that hate against minorities is thriving in our country.

It is impossible to ignore the dramatic eruptions of anti-Semitism we have seen in the past several months — the Sacramento synagogue arsons, the shooting of Orthodox Jews in Chicago, and now the JCC attack.

Throughout the Bay Area, as in the stricken communities, a mood of defiance prevails. While JCCs and other local institutions have beefed up security, they are bending over backward to ensure business as usual.

The Albert L. Schultz JCC in Palo Alto has received several hate calls in the past two months. But its staff and members are not cowering in fear.

"The spirit and mission of the JCC will go forward," says Director Sanford Blovad. "We just want that to happen in a safer and more secure environment."

So the Jewish community marches forward — a bit frightened, a bit uneasy, and very determined not to let hate get in its way.

We have been reminded painfully that the fight against hate is one of the great battles of our time.