Here’s a delightful little clip that examines the meaning and roots of Hava Nagila as mythic folk tune, originally a wordless nigun of the Sadagora Hasidim, and reality as an artful 20th century pop-composition by seminal musicologist Avraham Zvi Idelson that somehow crept under our skin and into our consciousness until hardly anybody remembers anymore that it really is a 20th century composition. Which, alert readers recall, is what we call the Folk Process.
Want more? This website takes you on an exploration of everything you wanted to know about Hava Nagila and a whole lot you didn’t know to ask.
Words and Music: The Unknown History of ‘Hava Nagila’
J.J. Goldberg is editor emeritus of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).