Awake Zion

Have you ever wondered why Jews and Rastafarians share the same Star of David and references to Zion? Could it be that dreadlocks are a Caribbean version of Hasidic earlocks? This film answers those questions and more as it explores the common histories of Jewish and reggae culture. This musical conversation involves Jews, Rastafarians, Americans, Jamaicans, and Israelis: including a Hasidic dancehall star, a ska/klezmer fusion pioneer, and several generations of reggae artists. Awake Zion will surprise you as it travels through history and scripture, back to the days of King Solomon, in its journey to understand the "unsuspecting kinship" between the two cultures. Featuring a soundtrack packed with vibrant music, this film is a testimony to harmony and unity between two diverse communities. --Erin Stamos
Monica Haim Writer, Director & Producer: Awake Zion Monica recently completed a master's degree in cultural journalism at the Gallatin School at NYU. She received a BFA in Acting from the Tisch School of Arts, also at NYU. The idea for Awake Zion was the result of many years of Hebrew school and a deep-seated relationship with music. Her recent studies in ethnomusicology, music criticism, arts and social worlds reporting provided a forum where she could explore the ideas for the project with perspective from various disciplines, creative and academic. Throughout the making of the film, Monica has immersed herself in the culture of the music, following Jewish and non-Jewish reggae musicians and enthusiasts from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to New York, New Jersey, Newton, Los Angeles, Israel and Jamaica, on a continued exploration of this unlikely cultural link. In 2004 Monica founded Twin Goat Productions, a company specializing in slice-of-life documentary projects. Upcoming projects include Meeting Me, a documentary that will explore the meaning of family through the prism of adoption; Yeah-Yeah, another music-driven piece about the underground legacy of Afrobeat music; and ECO, a documentary about perma-culture and modern organic life, as experienced through various self-sustained global villages. Two years ago Monica was published in an anthology, 9/11 8:48am: Documenting America's Worst Tragedy (Blue Ear Press, 2001), and her essay was adapted for the London theatrical premiere, Voices from September 11th, which ran at the Old Vic on September 11th 2002. Monica freelances as an associate producer for KPI TV, a documentary production company in New York. She has previously freelanced editorially for Time Out New York and Nylon, and worked as a public relations executive in Manhattan and San Francisco for three years. Awake Zion is Monica's directorial debut.
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