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Yom Kippur on the Block

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“Man is frail; his life is short and fleeting. Pestilence and wars recur to plague him. Vexed and harassed even from the cradle. Year by year, we see fresh blights of sorrow. Bonds of love and friendship torn and severed, homes left desolate, bereft of dear ones.”

I listened to these haunting words from the Yizkor service, not from my usual seat inside of my synagogue, but from a street corner in the middle of a poverty- and crime-ridden neighborhood on the south side of Chicago.

The inner city is probably not the first place that comes to mind when thinking about Yom Kippur. Yet that is exactly where Tamar Manasseh, the founder and president of MASK, Mothers and Men Against Senseless Killings (MASK), a Chicago-based, anti-gun violence organization, led her first Yom Kippur memorial service as a fully-ordained rabbi.

Since 2015, Manasseh and MASK have been working to prevent gun violence in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. In the years that followed, Manasseh has transformed the corner of 75th Street and South Stewart Avenue into an open-air community center. When Covid struck, MASK converted shipping containers into an educational center to serve the children of the neighborhood who have had difficulty........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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