To prepare you for 21st year of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, completely virtual-for-the-first time as you’ve never seen before, we bring you 21 previews spotlighting the breath of films offered for your home viewing. The films, which represent more than half of those in the AJFF lineup Feb. 17-28, include classics, intimate family dramas, upbeat comedy and historic documentaries. Sit back and relax as the AJFF brings us together through film.
The documentary “They Ain’t Ready for Me” introduces a charismatic woman, Tamar Manasseh, who leads the fight against the alarming trend of gun violence in the South side of Chicago. Tamar founded the grass roots organization, Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings (MASK). The goal is to replace violence and crime by engaging and building a meaningful community of committed neighbors.
Her inner-city home is plagued with poverty and violence. The senseless shooting and killing of a young mother prompts Tamar to “fix the problem.” She goes to the same corner of the murder, brings lawn chairs and food, organizes and mobilizes other mothers and neighbors to “put eyes on the street” to stop the violence.
The long hours of community vigilance continues on the corner. Mothers show children what community means. Neighbors begin to volunteer starting youth activities to create a safe environment for kids and families. Neighbors build a shelter on the corner for inclement weather. Over time they witness a decrease in violent crime. Their efforts result in creating a sense of ownership and pride in a broken neighborhood.
The documentary intersects all aspects of life. Tamar is raised Jewish and attended Akiba Schecter, a Jewish day school. Tamar is a rabbinical student guided by the principles of tikkun olam. Tamar contends that her community-centered activism is a true expression of Judaism. She proudly asserts, “I’m practicing Judaism on the corner. The neighborhood is broken and it’s for me to fix it.”
The film exposes her faith and experience as an African American Jew. She does not identify with any particular denomination. “I’m just a Jew and I’m a Black woman in America.” Tamar introduces Judaism to the neighborhood and hosts collective Sukkot, seders and other holiday celebrations for Jews and non-Jews. Tamar sees joy in her Judaism. Her fierce determination is the force that brings positive change to the community.
Tamar’s authentic Jewish journey is inspirational and hopeful. Audiences of all ages will appreciate this urban tale. Sit back and enjoy a compelling and candid documentary.