“ZIYARA”— To Morocco


To Morocco

Amos Lassen

Director Simone Bitton takes us on acinematic pilgrimage to her homeland of Morocco, as she explores her Jewish roots through the sphere of the Muslim guardians of the nation’s Jewish memory that are centered around the tradition of “ziyara”.

In rural Morocco, the country’s youngest citizens have largely never coexisted alongside Jews, although their presence is still felt in symbols, old shrines, synagogues and cemeteries. Many Muslims still maintain and find beauty in these commodities, seeing them as a timeless connection to the word of God.

Throughout the film, Bitton looks at the tradition of ziyara, a shared tradition between both Muslims and Jews. Pilgrims take a few days off in order to visit the tombs of saints, not only to pray but more importantly to commune with nature, celebrate outdoors, meet new people and exchange. Bitton revisits her original identity through the eyes of maturity and tells the story of Jews and Muslims, as has been the consistent theme in her work for decades. She finds a story of hope.

Through intimate conversations not only with those old enough to remember sharing their land with Jews, but with a new generation of Moroccans inspired by their heritage, we are with Bitton. These deeply personal insights include everyday people and specialists, all of them modest and magnificent heroes in a relentless quest for modernity, dignity, and social justice.