Hava Nagila

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Hava Nagila" (Hebrew: הָבָה נָגִילָה, Hāvā Nāgīlā, "Let us rejoice") is a Jewish folk song. It is traditionally sung at celebrations, such as weddings. Written in 1918, it quickly spread through the Jewish diaspora.


"Hava Nagila" is one of the first modern Jewish folk songs in the Hebrew language. It went on to become a staple of band performers at Jewish weddings and bar/bat(b'nei) mitzvah celebrations.

The melody is based on a Hassidic Nigun.[1] It was composed in 1918, to celebrate the Balfour Declaration and the British victory over the Ottomans in 1917. It was first performed in a mixed choir concert in Jerusalem.[2]

Abraham Zevi Idelsohn (1882–1938), a professor at 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 with the rest of his class was presented by the professor with a 19th-century, slow, melodious, chant (niggun or nigun) and assigned to add rhythm and words to fashion a modern Hebrew song. There are competing claims regarding "Hava Nagila"'s composer, with both Idelsohn and Nathanson being suggested.[3][4]

The niggun has been attributed to the Sadigurer Chasidim, who lived in what is now Ukraine.[3] This version has been recreated by Daniel Gil, based on a traditional song collected by Susman Kiselgof.[5] The text was probably refined by Idelsohn.[6] Members of the community began to immigrate to Jerusalem in 1915, and Idelsohn wrote in 1932 that he had been inspired by that melody.[2]


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
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
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

Notable performers[edit]

Use in sports[edit]


Maccabi Tel Aviv[edit]

After every home Maccabi Tel Aviv win, the fan group The Gate, which is the biggest Maccabi fan group, start chanting Hava Nagila.[24]

Association football[edit]

Ajax Amsterdam[edit]

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, "Hava Nagila" can often be heard sung in the Stadium by the team's supporters, and at one point ringtones of "Hava Nagila" could even be downloaded from the club's official website.[25][26][27]

Tottenham Hotspur[edit]

Supporters of the English football club Tottenham Hotspur commonly refer to themselves as "Yids" and say they are strongly associated with Jewish symbolism and culture. "Hava Nagila" has been adopted as an anthem of sorts by the club, and was one of the most frequently sung songs at the team's former stadium at White Hart Lane.[28][29]

Other versions[edit]

George Lam recorded a Cantonese version of "Hava Nagila" titled《狂歡》("Carnival") for his 1981 album《活色生香》.

Allan Sherman recorded a parody, "Harvey and Sheila," on his album "My Son, The Celebrity," using the tune but spoofing middle-class life.

Thrash Metal band Anthrax included the melody in their 1987 single "I'm the Man".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Loeffler, James. "Hava Nagila's Long, Strange Trip. The unlikely history of a Hasidic melody". myjewishlearning.com. My Jewish Learning. Like many modern and popular Jewish songs, Hava Nagila began its life as a Hasidic melody in Eastern Europe.
  2. ^ a b The secret history of Hava Nagila
  3. ^ a b c Roberta Grossman, Director/Producer; Sophie Sartain, Writer/Producer (2012). Hava Nagila (The Movie) (NTSC B&W and color, widescreen, closed-captioned). Los Angeles, CA, USA: Katahdin Productions, More Horses Productions. OCLC 859211976. Retrieved 3 September 2015. The song you thought you knew. The story you won't believe.
  4. ^ "Film Hoists 'Hava Nagila' Up Onto A Chair, In Celebration Of Song And Dance". NPR. 28 February 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  5. ^ Hava Nagila - The Original, & Unaltered Hasidic Melody
  6. ^ Yudelson, Larry. "Who wrote Havah Nagilah?". RadioHazak. Larry Yudelson. Archived from the original on 29 July 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2007.
  7. ^ Belafonte, Harry (1959) Belafonte at Carnegie Hall: The Complete Concert (LP) RCA Victor LOC-6006
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad "Hava Nagila, What Is It? (Part I)" at YouTube
  9. ^ Leland, John. (2004) Hip: The History, New York, NY, USA: HarperCollins, p. 206.
  10. ^ Adkins, Laura E. (9 December 2020). "Orthodox rapper Nissim Black's new single, 'The Hava Song,' remakes 'Hava Nagila' just in time for Hanukkah". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  11. ^ "Hava Nagila Twist", on The Hokey Pokey: Organized Dancing (1991)
  12. ^ "Carmela Corren – International". Germany: Ariola – 70354 IU. 1963. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  13. ^ Neil Diamond Live In America 1994, at YouTube
  14. ^ Dream Theater: vídeo de música Judaica no show em Israel, luew, 19/06/09
  15. ^ Bruce Springsteen "Hava Nagila" live Sunrise, FL 9-09 (YouTube video). GratefulDad007. 14 September 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2022.
  16. ^ Four Jacks and a Jill, Jimmy Come Lately Retrieved 13 May 2015
  17. ^ a b c Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  18. ^ "Abraham Zvi Idelsohn: The Thesaraus of Jewish Music & Hava Nagila". seligman.org.il. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Set Lists 1968 to 1976". The Highway Star. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  20. ^ "Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah". Fat Wreck Chords. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  21. ^ Ivan Rebroff – The Very Best Of Ivan Rebroff (1990, CD), retrieved 5 February 2021
  22. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 521. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  23. ^ Rogovoy, Seth (12 November 2019). "The Secret Jewish History of The Who". The Forward. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  24. ^ "https://twitter.com/thesportsrabbi/status/1651640453744271361/video/1". Twitter. Retrieved 29 April 2023. {{cite web}}: External link in |title= (help)
  25. ^ Amsterdam Journal; A Dutch Soccer Riddle: Jewish Regalia Without Jews, The New York Times, 28 March 2005.
  26. ^ Hava Nagila!Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad, 15 October 2013
  27. ^ 'Waar komt de geuzennaam 'Joden' toch vandaan?', Het Parool, 1 February 2014.
  28. ^ Promised Land: A Northern Love Story – Anthony Clavane, 12 February 2014
  29. ^ The Yid Army’s chants turn anti-semitism into kitsch banter, Financial Times, 20 September 2013.

External links[edit]