Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hava Nagila

Someone sent me a link to this cute YouTube video about Hava Nagila.

The thing is, although everyone in the film is convinced Hava Nagila is a defining Jewish cultural icon, what it actually is is a popular American Jewish icon. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it's probably not recognized at all in most European Jewish communities, I can't say about the South American ones, and of course in Israel no-one would be caught dead singing it. Any Aussie or Kiwi Jewish readers who care to enlighten us about the Hava Nagiliut of their communities?


Daniel said...

At this point I would even question how Jewish it is, it might just be part of Americana, this video is from the CUFI conference. I do not believe the band (or the Gospel choir)is Jewish. They seem to have a particular problem with "ח"

Anonymous said...

In Australia, it is very recognisable as Jewish kitsch. At every simcha the band will always throw in a Hava Nagila somewhere in their repertoire. It is also the only Jewish song non-Jews know about.


eze said...

The same Pavel wrote @ 12:36 could be said about South America, at least, Argentina.

Though I'd dare to say that "Maaminim bnei maaminim" and "Mashiaj" are the most celebrated songs.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure about being caught dead in IL? Hagivatron has a cool Hava Nagila medley if you are interested.

It is back from the 60s so you are probably right about singing it today.

I refer Arik Einstein anyway.


Yaacov said...

The 1960s, Assaf, were almost 50 years ago.

Maminim bnei maminim?? Wow. How did that get to Argentina? It certainly hasn't reached mainstream American Jewry yet. Mochiach is, of course, Chabad. I won't pronounce on that, lest Victor come by here later :~)

Anonymous said...

I forget the 1960s are 50 years ago.



eze said...

When I said that those are the most celebrated songs I was referring to specific Jewish celebrations such as weddings, bar mitzvahs. I think my message has been somewhat confusing, sorry about that. Chabad has been growing consistently for the last I'd say.. 10 years (reasons exceed this comment).

For the society as a whole, I believe Hava Nagila remains the most popular song. That song, famous and good Jewish comedians and the remembered Charlton Heston movie (which was religiously aired in public television every Easter) are perhaps the most famous expressions of Judaism in this country.

It is fare to say that Argentina has been the largest Jewish community in latinamerica for more than a century (strong 500,000 in the middle '60s -disputed figures though-, dwindling through the years to 250,000 according to a 2005 study).

Fabián said...

Oh, we sang it in every party in Argentina. It is undoubtably a Jewish icon there too. It took me 36 years to realize it was an Eurovision song, instead of being millenary. (I found out six months ago).

Fabián said...

Hola eze!

You have your number wrong, though.
Argentinian Jews never surpassed 350.000, and they are in the 163.000 core Jewish population (those self-identified as Jews) in Buenos Aires and surroundings (more than 80% of the Jews of the country, and 180.600 halachic Jews, also in Buenos Aires and surroundings.
Source: Ezequiel Erdrei, "Demografia e identidad: a proposito del estudio de poblacion judía en Buenos Aires", Pertenencia y Alteridad. Judíos de/en América Latina: cuarenta años de cambios, Frankfurt y Madrid, Iberoamericana Vervuert Bonilla Artigas Ed., 2011

Darryl Dempsey said...

Well known in Australia. Because I had lived in Israel and spoke Hebrew my friends asked me what the words meant.
Used to tell them that Nagila was a popular cigar in Israel, and so the song was about sharing a cigar: Hava Nagila.

Don't think they believed me ...

Darryl Dempsey

RK said...

I liked this video that the Jewish blogger DovBear linked to. It shows Harry Belafonte singing Hava Nagila without a trace of self-consciousness. The 60's really were different.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Fabián, you're wrong. Hava Nagila is not an Eurovisión song; Hallelujah is.

I would say Hava Nagila is the most popular song among Argentina's Jews, followed by Heveinu Shalom Aleichem. It's also the only Jewish song immediately recognized by non-Jews (the melody is actually Ukrainian).