|In the 1950s, "Hava Nagila," already a hit at Jewish celebrations,|
became a crossover hit for singers such as Harry Belafonte.
After all, “Hava Nagila” (“Let Us Rejoice”) was not born in raucous catering halls but in the 1800s, in Sadigura, a Ukrainian chasidic shtetl, as a wordless meditative melody. Words and a hora were added in the Yishuv, and it was danced to in the DP camps, an expression of hope and energy in a world that seemed to have neither. Refugees and Zionists brought it to the United States, and “Hava Nagila” soared to popularity in mid-century, only to leave home, lost to parody, kitsch and cliché.
Here, though, a visitor suddenly hears the old song in a new way. -- Jonathan Mark, NY Jewish Week
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