Sometimes I wish there were three of me -- one to travel the world playing music and visiting with friends of all cultures, expanding my understanding of what it means to truly be in the moment experiencing life and building bridges. Another, to be living in the Holy Land amongst my soul family, working on peace initiatives and celebrating joyous occasions, like my friend Jeremy Pesach Dahvid Stadlin's recent engagement (I've been looking forward to this moment for YEARS). And the third to be at home on the land with my husband and our new puppy, Luna, planting seeds, staying grounded, and working on my inner world - healing, writing, visioning, reading, deepening my roots in our new home and community in Oregon.
After experiencing some extremely challenging personal and global challenges over the past few years, early this year I decided to seize every opprtunity to live life to the fullest and go wherever I was led. I've often lived by instinct and synchronicity -- the result of not having had parental guidance or nurturing in my early life. In my youth, I had no choice but to develop a fiercely independent streak that has kept me sane and connected to the free spirit inside.
That said, I've just returned back to the West Coast from a pretty intensive, yet inspiring ten day trip to Morocco. I was invited there by the United Religions Initiative, a global interfaith organization with over one million members of every faith worldwide. I met people from countries including Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Israel/Palestine, Kurdistan, Jordan, Poland, Bulgaria, Bosnia, South Africa, and of course, Morocco.
The theme of the conference was 'Preventing Religious Extremism and Violence through Interfaith Dialogue.' I listened, learned, shared, and grew in my belief that, no matter how dire global conflicts are, we are ultimately one human family and must continue to seek peace and human connection.#Coexist
One of the most powerful moments of this gathering was when a new friend from Poland, Klara, helped me locate the very street in pre-war Poland where my grandfather had lived before the Nazi invasion. No one in my family ever spoke about my grandfather, Daniel - he died three months after I was born and my grandmother remarried when I was very young. When I saw the street on the map, my mind. was. blown.
It made me realize that I must find my way there at some point, to make a pilgrimage to the home of my ancestors. After the gathering, I traveled with some new friends to Marrakesh for several days and stayed in the Medina, which was busy, crowded, and intense. We stayed in a Riad - a guest house built from a former palace, which was like a quiet oasis within the hustle and bustle of the city. The beauty of the detailed architecture and the kindness of a few strangers made it an unforgettable experience.
I then visited the coastal city of Essaouira for a few days, which ended up being my favorite part of the trip. I made friends with some amazing locals and learned that Essaouira has been a model of tolerance and plurality for centuries, where Jews and Muslims lived together in harmony. It was a center of trade between Africa and Europe. I was particularly taken by the beautiful blue doors and shutters, which are reminiscent of the blue in the mystical city of Tzfat, a place I have always felt was my spiritual home.
As it turns out, Essaouira is also legendary for being a favorite haunt of some of my favorite musicians of all time, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, which I only discovered after I had already fallen in love with this little village.
But the best part of all was making new friends who gave me a reason to want to return and explore more of this beautiful country. It's one thing to be a tourist, it's another to feel like you have a new community on the other side of the world. I’ll be returning there in September to perform music with the Bay Area-based surf-rock band, The Mermen, and to write and record new sketches for my upcoming album and book.
They say, "Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." Truer words have never been spoken. Make sure to follow me on Instagram to see more pics and footage from the upcoming journey. www.instagram.com/alizahavamusic
Find the original posting of this blog on the United Religions Initiative website at https://www.uri.org/uri-story/20220815-interfaith-people-and-places-journeying-together