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Don’t Call It a Comeback, Hava Nagila

Aly Raisman may have revived a tune

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Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman may be sparking a renaissance for the song “Hava Nagila,” to which she performed her masterful floor exercise routine. I’ve now received multiple e-mails this week hyping a Beatles-style cover of the famous song and seen it posted along the various social media apparatuses. Whether this constitutes a trend is impossible to tell; I may just have really nerdy friends.

Two warnings: Apparently this video is neither new, nor actually of The Beatles. But then again, “Hava Nagila” is rumored to be from the 15th century so I suppose it’s all cyclical, right?

With some light digging across the internets, I also found this grainy video of Bob Dylan and Harry Dean Stanton (both in kippot!) jamming out to the tune at a Chabad telethon. The slight discomfortable alone is worth your time.

Tablet’s Songs of Songs, a list of the 100 greatest Jewish songs, adds Dick Dale, The Boss, and Harry Belafonte to the list of famous people who’ve made the song worthy of its #2 all-time spot.

Related: Songs of Songs

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Check out Roberta Grossman’s new
documentary on the long and colorful history of Hava Nagila. It answers all of the questions. It wil be making the rounds of Jewish and other film festivals this year.
great timing for a revival of the iconic song

And for a recent, somewhat contrarian take on the current popularity of this tune (or more precisely lack thereof) at Jewish celebrations, check out this article by Lucette Lagnado that appeared July 29, 2012 in the WSJ:

Addendum to my previous comment: I should note that Aly Raisman’s sparkling performance took place after the WSJ article. Who knows, perhaps Raisman will have single-handedly provided for the immortal nigun’s continued appearance at future Jewish ceremonies after all, contrary to Lagnado’s WSJ thesis. I guess we shouldn’t dismiss the ‘HN’ tune just yet! Klezmorim, stay tuned!

robertagrossman says:

Hava never went away – as our film argues, Hava is a portal into 150 years of Jewish history, culture and spirituality. I also think that Hava’s ups and downs, are a stand-in for American Jewish identity, love-hate, push-pull. We’ve had 3/4 million views of the 10 minute sample reel for the documentary!!! Hava is not a has-been, it’s a lightening rod!
Roberta Grossman, Director Hava Nagila (The Movie)


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Don’t Call It a Comeback, Hava Nagila

Aly Raisman may have revived a tune

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