Straddler brings loaded strum

Aliza Hava plays at local branch of international peace campaign opening tonight.

aliza hava 298.88 (photo credit: courtesy)
aliza hava 298.88
(photo credit: courtesy)
A singer-songwriter who straddles many worlds, Aliza Hava is at once an olah, an expatriate, a peace activist and a Jewish spiritualist. She follows up an acoustic set at Mike's Place in Tel Aviv last week with an 8 p.m. appearance tonight at Tantur (between Jerusalem and Bethlehem), where she'll be joining a full lineup of entertainers for a program entitled "Two People, Two States, One Peace." The gig is part of a multi-day international campaign, with coordinated events in Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Chicago, London, Berlin, Rome and elsewhere. Locally, the event kicks off this evening with headliner David Broza at 5:30, followed by a series of performers that culminates with a set by Jerusalem-based acoustic ethnic groove ensemble AndraLaMoussia. On Saturday, peace-themed movies (including the Oscar-winning West Bank Story) will be screened, with live performances resuming at 6 p.m. The second day's concerts and ceremonies include an 8 p.m. set by Lod-based rap collective DAM. In the past, Hava has played at a World Peace Prayer Ceremony at the Washington Monument, at the U.N. International Day of Peace, and at downtown Jerusalem's activism-themed Daila club, so playing for a global harmony-oriented crowd is hardly a stretch. However, she is still considered an artist who operates largely within the "Jewish music" genre - perhaps because of her lineage as a descendant of 18th century Poland's "Biala Rebbe," Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Rabinowitz. "Because I am Jewish, people keep thinking of me as 'a Jewish musician,'" she notes. "But I think that has more to do with society's need to place labels on people in order to understand them. Although my spiritual beliefs do play a role in what I write, I feel that my work goes beyond the barriers of religion to a more universal connection with people from all walks of life." Ultimately, activism is what drives Hava's creative output. "Since I was a teenager," she explains, "I've been performing music that has to do with peace, justice and unity - it's in my blood." Back in New York, Hava has been touring extensively in support of her debut solo album, Rise, a powerful 2006 femme-guitar pop-song cycle that evokes Tracy Bonham and the early Alanis Morissette. She has also been busy composing for soundtracks, developing a series of love songs for a new album and gigging with an ensemble called Neptune's Daughters. But playing shows in Israel remains a priority for her. "It is incredibly important for me to have a presence in America so I can reach a wider audience," she admits, but adds that "it's also important to share the spirit of my music in Israel because it's my home." For more information on Two People, Two States, One Peace, visit, or call (02) 676-9460 to make reservations.