Historic Philadelphia prison works to restore synagogue

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In the eyes of the law, the worshippers were criminals. But to the rabbi who served them, they were simply Jewish men in search of faith and spiritual guidance.
The synagogue behind the walls of Eastern State Penitentiary was a place for inmates to reflect and, perhaps, seek forgiveness. But after the prison closed in 1971, the room remained forgotten even as work began to preserve other parts of the decaying historical site.

Now, officials at the 179-year-old landmark prison and popular tourist attraction are restoring the synagogue's spare but dignified environs. Decades of neglect had left the consecrated space almost inaccessible due to collapsed stone walls outside; inside, rotted wood benches sat amid several inches of debris from a fallen ceiling.

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