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Tamar Manasseh on repairing the cracks in our communities

In the NewsHour’s Facebook Watch show, “That Moment When,” the founder of an organization dedicated to preventing senseless killing talks about the importance of building community. With Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killing (MASK), Chicago’s Tamar Manasseh goes to “where bad things are going to happen” and, over barbecue and good conversation, seeks to save lives.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    This week's "NewsHour" Facebook watch show, "That Moment When," features Tamar Manasseh. She's the founder of MASK, Mothers and Men Against Senseless Killing.

    Manasseh tells us how she is able to win people over to her cause using her background, growing up as a Jewish woman of color on Chicago's South Side.

  • Question:

    What does it feel like to have the international media storm Chicago on its worst days with the high number of shootings and killings?

  • Tamar Manasseh:

    I don't feel anything. I think the mayor should feel something. I think the superintendent of police should feel something.

    People like me, who are out here every day, who are trying to make the difference, who are making the difference, who do the work, we see that our efforts are actually doing something, even if the international media doesn't recognize it. It's not about that. It's about the lives that you save.

    When I leave here, I'm going to go home, I'm going to put on some warm clothes, and I'm going to head to the block, because, tonight, we're having a sukkah soiree.

    There's this idea. If we can find where bad things are going to happen, if we know that bad things are happening between these two warring factions, you send some moms over there, you send some moms over there, and we just sit there. And we have, hands down, the best sukkah on the South Side of Chicago.

    No one would ever expect to see Jews of all colors dancing to "Hava Nagila" played by a jazz band on a street corner in the middle of the hood. But that's what you're going to see tonight.

    Being around a barbecue grill is going to give us some time to talk, to get to know each other. It takes time for food to get ready. So, while we're talking, food's going to be cooking. You're going to get to know me, and I'm going to get to know you.

    And then, once the food comes off the grill, we're going to be mid-conversation. So, you aren't going to just walk away, because we're having a good conversation.

    And then you know what? Tomorrow, you're going to come back and we're going to do it again. And then you're going to come back the day after, and we're going to do it again.

    And that's what built community around that barbecue grill and around that corner. That's what did it. It was food and good conversation and genuine concern.

    It is the way that I bring people together. It is the way that I bridge the gap. The most Jewish thing that I can do is sit on a corner and make sure that people are treated justly and make sure that they have food, and make sure that everybody is treated with respect and dignity.

    It is part of tikkun olam. It is a crack in the world. And if you see the crack, you have to try to repair the crack. It's up to you to try to repair the flaw. That's what it is.

    Everybody else sees problems. I see cracks.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Tamar Manasseh. The group is MASK.

    You can watch all episodes of our series on Facebook @thatmomentwhenshow.

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