Hava Nagila

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Hava Nagila (Hebrew: הבה נגילה, Havah Nagilah, "Let us rejoice") is a Jewish folk song traditionally sung at Jewish celebrations.


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.[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]

The lyrics are based on Psalm 118 (verse 24) of the Hebrew Bible. The first commercial recording of the song was produced in Berlin in 1922.[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, my brothers!
Uru aḥim be-lev sameaḥ
עורו אחים בלב שמח
  Awake my brothers with a happy heart
  (repeat line four times)    
Uru aḥim, uru aḥim!
!עורו אחים, עורו אחים
  Awake, my brothers, awake, my 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

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, the song 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.[23][24][25]

Tottenham Hotspur[edit]

Supporters of the English football club Tottenham Hotspur commonly refer to themselves as "Yids" and 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 White Hart Lane.[26][27]

2012 London Olympics[edit]

In the 2012 London Olympics, American Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman used the song for her floor routine, for which she earned the Olympic Gold Medal.

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 c 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. {{cite AV media}}: External link in |ref= (help)
  4. ^ NPR staff, 2013, "Film Hoists 'Hava Nagila' Up Onto A Chair, In Celebration Of Song And Dance." NPR (online), February 28, 2013, see [1], accessed 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 2008-07-29. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  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 "Hava Nagila, What Is It? (Part I)" at YouTube
  9. ^ Leland, John. (2004) Hip: The History, New York, NY, USA: HarperCollins, p. 206.
  10. ^ "Hava Nagila Twist", on The Hokey Pokey:Organized Dancing (1991)
  11. ^ "Carmela Corren – International". Germany: Ariola – 70354 IU. 1963. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
  12. ^ Neil Diamond Live In America 1994, at YouTube
  13. ^ Dream Theater: vídeo de música Judaica no show em Israel, luew, 19/06/09
  14. ^ a b c Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  15. ^ Ivan Rebroff – The Very Best Of Ivan Rebroff (1990, CD), retrieved 2021-02-05
  16. ^ Four Jacks and a Jill, Jimmy Come Lately Retrieved May 13, 2015
  17. ^ "Abraham Zvi Idelsohn: The Thesaraus of Jewish Music & Hava Nagila". www.seligman.org.il. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
  18. ^ "Set Lists 1968 to 1976". The Highway Star. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
  19. ^ "Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah". Fat Wreck Chords. Retrieved 2019-06-11.
  20. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 521. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  21. ^ Rogovoy, Seth (2019-11-12). "The Secret Jewish History of The Who". The Forward. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Amsterdam Journal; A Dutch Soccer Riddle: Jewish Regalia Without Jews, The New York Times, 28 March 2005.
  24. ^ Hava Nagila!Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad, 15 October 2013
  25. ^ 'Waar komt de geuzennaam 'Joden' toch vandaan?', Het Parool, 1 February 2014.
  26. ^ Promised Land: A Northern Love Story – Anthony Clavane, 12 February 2014
  27. ^ The Yid Army’s chants turn anti-semitism into kitsch banter, Financial Times, 20 September 2013.

External links[edit]