Hava Nagila

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For the Party Animals song, see Hava Naquila (song).
Instrumental performance of Hava Nagila

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Hava Nagila” (הבה נגילה Havah Nagilah, "Let us rejoice") is perhaps the first modern Israeli folk song in the Hebrew language that has become a staple of band performers at Jewish weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. It was composed in 1920's Palestine at a time when Hebrew was first being revived as a spoken language for the first time in 2,000 years (i.e. since the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE). For the first time, Palestinian Jews were being encouraged to speak Hebrew as a common language, instead of Yiddish, Arabic, Ladino, or other regional Jewish languages.

Origin[edit]

Against this backdrop, Prof. Abraham Zvi Idelsohn of the Hebrew University began cataloging all known Jewish music and teaching classes in musical composition. One of his students was a promising cantorial student, Moshe Nathanson, who later went on to a successful career in New York, most famously composing the nearly-universal melody that is sung with the Birkat Hamazon or Grace After Meals. Idelson presented the class with a 19th-century, slow, melodious, chant (niggun) assigning the class to add rhythm and words in order to fashion a modern Hebrew song. The niggun is attributed to the Sidigorer Chassidim, who lived in what is now Ukraine. It uses the Phrygian dominant scale common in music of Transylvania. The commonly used text was probably refined by Abraham Zevi (Zvi) Idelsohn[1][2] in 1918 as one of the first songs designed to unite the early Yishuv [Jewish enterprise] that arose after the British victory in Palestine during World War I and the Balfour Declaration, declaring a national Jewish homeland in the lands newly liberated from Turkey by the Allies and entrusted to Britain under the treaty of Versailles. Although Psalm 118 (verse 24) of the Hebrew Bible may have been a source for the text of Hava Nagila,[citation needed] the expression of the song and it's accompanying hora (circle) dance was entirely secular in its outlook.

Lyrics[edit]

Transliteration Hebrew text English translation
Hava nagila
הבה נגילה
Let's rejoice
Hava nagila
הבה נגילה
Let's rejoice
Hava nagila ve-nismeḥa
הבה נגילה ונשמחה
Let's rejoice and be happy
  (repeat)  
Hava neranenah הבה נרננה Let's sing
Hava neranenah הבה נרננה Let's sing
Hava neranenah ve-nismeḥa הבה נרננה ונשמחה Let's sing and be happy
  (repeat)  
Uru, uru aḥim! !עורו, עורו אחים Awake, awake, brothers!
Uru aḥim be-lev sameaḥ עורו אחים בלב שמח Awake brothers with a happy heart
  (repeat line four times)  
Uru aḥim, uru aḥim! !עורו אחים, עורו אחים Awake, brothers, awake, brothers!
Be-lev sameaḥ בלב שמח With a happy heart

Note: The “” can be pronounced as a voiceless pharyngeal fricative [ħ] (as in Classical Hebrew) or a voiceless uvular fricative [χ], as “ch” as in Bach (Modern Hebrew pronunciation).

Notable performers[edit]

  • Abraham Zvi Idelsohn produced the first commercial recording in 1922 on the Polyphon Record label as part of a series which recorded 39 Hebrew folk songs.[3]

Although Hava Nagila was known in Jewish circles, particularly the more secular-oriented Zionist organizations, and became a staple at weddings and bar mitzvahs, its explosive popularity was triggered by the unexpected victory of Israel in its 1948 War of Independence, a war in which the nascent state was expected to be annihilated by five invading armies. The Weavers started the trend of mainstreaming the songs of the newly emergent State of Israel with their recording of "Tzena, Tzena" which they rode to the top of the charts. Hava Nagila soon followed into 1950's radio-land.

Usage in sports[edit]

Association football[edit]

Ajax Amsterdam

Supporters of the Dutch association football club AFC Ajax, although not an official Jewish club, commonly use Jewish imagery. A central part of Ajax fans' culture. the song Hava Nagila can often be heard sung in the Stadium by the teams supporters, and at one point ringtones of "Hava Nagila", could even be downloaded from the club's official website.[15][16][17]

Tottenham Hotspur

Supporters of the English football club Tottenham Hotspur commonly refer to themselves as Yids, and are strongly associated with Jewish symbolism and culture. The song 'Hava Nagila' has been adopted as an anthem of sorts by the club, and is one of the most frequently sung songs at White Hart Lane.[18][19]

Olympic sports[edit]

Date Athlete Sport Event
1994 Ukraine Lilia Podkopayeva Gymnastics 1994 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships
1995-1997 Ghana Tony Yeboah Football all season long
1998-1999 Russia Evgeni Plushenko Figure skating all season long
1999-2000 Italy Maurizio Margaglio Figure skating all season long
1999-2000 Italy Barbara Fusar-Poli Figure skating all season long
2000 Russia Yekaterina Lobaznyuk Gymnastics 2000 Sydney Olympics
2000-2001 Russia Irina Lobacheva Figure skating all season long
2000-2001 Russia Ilia Averbukh Figure skating all season long
2002-2003 Russia Alina Kabaeva Rhythmic Gymnastics all season long
2004-2005 Japan Daisuke Murakami Figure skating all season long
2007-2008 China Wang Chen Figure skating all season long
2007-2008 China Yu Xiaoyang Figure skating all season long
2009-2010 Israel Roman Zaretsky Figure skating all season long
2009-2010 Israel Alexandra Zaretsky Figure skating all season long
2010 Romania Sandra Izbasa Gymnastics all season long
2011-2012 United States Aly Raisman Gymnastics 2011 CoverGirl Classic through Floor gold medal performance at 2012 London Olympics[20]
2011-2012 Israel Israeli Team Rhythmic Gymnastics all season long
2012 Israel Neta Rivkin Rhythmic Gymnastics all season long

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yudelson, Larry. "Who wrote Havah Nagilah?". RadioHazak. Larry Yudelson. Archived from the original on 2008-07-29. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  2. ^ In an appearance on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs on 28 October 2007, Joel Joffe referred to his grandfather Abraham Zevi Idelsohn as the author of "Hava Nagila", but in the programme notes it says "Composer: Bashir Am Israelim", meaning that either this is an alias for Abraham Zevi Idelsohn, to whom Joffe was clearly referring in the programme, or (more plausibly) the programme notes contain a mis-transcription of "Shir Am Yisraeli", meaning "Israeli folksong".
  3. ^ http://www.seligman.org.il/joffe_AZIdelsohn.html
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Hava Nagila, What Is It? (Part I)" at YouTube[unreliable source?]
  5. ^ Leland, John. Hip: The History, HarperCollins, 2004, p. 206.
  6. ^ [1] Conjunto Quisqueya - Hava Nagila (1978) at Youtube
  7. ^ "Set Lists 1968 to 1976". The Highway Star. Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  8. ^ [2] Raphael sings "Hava Nagila" at Youtube
  9. ^ [3] Neo Cheezy (2007)
  10. ^ DALIDA Hava nagila 2, at Youtube
  11. ^ Neil Diamond Live In America 1994, at Youtube
  12. ^ "Hava Nagila Twist", on The Hokey Pokey:Organized Dancing (1991)
  13. ^ "Hava Nagila" by Sonata Arctica in a Tokyo concert, at Youtube
  14. ^ Dream Theater: vídeo de música judaica no show em Israel, luew, 19/06/09
  15. ^ Amsterdam Journal; A Dutch Soccer Riddle: Jewish Regalia Without Jews – New York Times, 28 March 2005
  16. ^ Hava Nagila! – Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad, 15 October 2013
  17. ^ 'Waar komt de geuzennaam 'Joden' toch vandaan?' – Het Parool, 1 February 2014
  18. ^ Promised Land: A Northern Love Story – Anthony Clavane, 12 February 2014
  19. ^ The Yid Army’s chants turn anti-semitism into kitsch banter – Financial Times, 20 September 2013
  20. ^ Kvelling for Aly Raisman on Salon. Retrieved 8 August 20112

External links[edit]