Aspen Film begins streaming the documentary “They Ain’t Ready For Me” on Sunday, Aug. 30. The film follows Tamar Manasseh, a Black rabbinical student organizing against gun violence on Chicago’s South Side.
“I read about Tamar online … there was an article, and the title was ‘Black Rabbinical Student Leads an Army of Moms Against Gun Violence,’” said the film’s director Brad Rothschild. “With a headline like that I decided I needed to learn a little bit more.”
Manasseh founded MASK, Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings, in 2015. Manasseh and the organization have received widespread coverage for their work; they spend summers sitting on the corner of 75th Street & Stewart Avenue in a bid to stop neighborhood shootings, and organize community barbecues in the area.
Rothschild said what pulled him to her story was her crediting of Judaism for her activism in her Chicago neighborhood, and that stories about the community activist have often skirted the complexities of her identity.
“There are a lot of news pieces that have been done about Tamar,” said Rothschild. “But they never go into that aspect of her personality, they’re more interested in the work she’s doing.”
Rothschild added that he frequently gets questions about what Manasseh's been up to since the film was released in January. He said that she’s on track to become a rabbi in October, and MASK has plans to open a school made out of shipping containers on the corner of 75th & Stewart. The classrooms were set to open in the spring, but the pandemic has shifted those original plans.
Rothschild said he hopes his film helps audiences better understand the community Manasseh’s fighting for.
“It’s easy for anyone who only knows of a place through the news to get a skewed view of that place, any place, and I would hope people would walk away and say it’s a lot more complicated than I thought,” he said.
Aspen Film is partnering with the Aspen Jewish Community Center to offer the documentary through Tuesday, Sept. 1. Tickets can be purchased at Aspen Film’s website.