" Klezmer is an interpretation of art and life based not solely on Jewish folklore, but rather on a cosmopolitan divergence of musical genres" Giora Feidman 

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Hava Nagila


The emblematic Israeli song From Hassidic nigun to international standard

Without even knowing it millions of people are acquainted with Abraham Zvi Idelsohn. He is the father of the most emblematic and best known Israeli folksong: "Hava Nagila".
This song has long ago crossed the frontier of Israel and entered the world music hall of fame. Hava Nagila was recorded maybe thousands of times by artists of all horizons in countless versions, it became a standard for Jewish and non-Jewish as well.

The melody is based on a Sadigorer hassidic nigun from Bukovina. In 1915, while serving as a bandmaster in the Ottoman army,Idelsohn transcribed the melody and added simple Hebrew lyrics:

(let us rejoice x2, Let us rejoice and be glad, Let us sing x2, Let us sing and be glad, Awake, awake brothers, Awake brothers with a joyful heart). These words are inspired by Biblical verse (Psalms 118:24).

In 1918, The Turks were defeated and the British were in Palestine. Idelsohn needed a tune to celebrate the Balfour declaration and the luck or the hazard of life made him choose among all the melodies this particular one. It became an immediate hit, it spread enthusiastically throughout the Jewish settlement and in the next years the song was included in the Jewish repertoire in Europe and in the United States.

With the creation of the State of Israel Hava Nagila became a kind of alternative popular anthem. Danced as an Israeli hora (quick tempo) it is assimilated to the image of the sabra (native of Israel), the builder of a young nation.

From the fifties until now the popularity of Hava Nagila had never failed, from the Barry Sisters to Harry Belafonte, from Afro-Cuban orchestra to Gypsy band, hundreds of artists have added this song to their repertoire .

Hava Nagila is a song of joy, hope and brotherhood, it is catchy and buoyant, from Hassidic Bukovina to disco clubs, LET'S DANCE and thank you, Maestro Abraham Zvi Idelsohn.

Hava Nagila may symbolize the blending of styles, of cultures, of musical genres all over the world. There are hundreds of different version and arrangement of the tune. Here is a selection.

Rika Zarai sings Hava Nagila

Rika Zarai was born in Jerusalem in 1939. After musical education and military service she started a singing career in France as a young performer. She became an icon of the french popular "chanson". This interpretation of Hava Nagila is one of my preferred. She popularized others Jewish and Israeli tunes like "Jerusalem of Gold", "My Yiddische Mama" and "halleluya".

Giora Feidman plays Hava Nagila at Kirchentag 2009 in Bremen

With his unmistakable and passionate style Giora Feidman is giving the public his own version of Hava Nagila. He is driving enthusiastically the audience to sing together and share this unique instant of musical experience.

Hava Nagila Dance

Bottle Dancers from Brooklyn perform Hava Nagila

Can you imagine a traditional Jewish marriage without Hava Nagila?

Hava Naguila - Dalida

Here is a bilingual version by Dalida another icon of the "chanson Francaise" who was born in Egypt.

Andre Rieu - Hava Nagila

Indian Hava Nagila

Hava Nagila goes to Bollywood


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Giora Feidman
"We have one Torah, one shofar, one flag, and the expression of all that is the nigun, any nigun. It's not a song, it's an energy which results from an interpretation of the faith."




"Long live Giora, his clarinet and his music! He builds bridges between generations, cultures and classes, and he does it with perfect artistry!" Leonard Bernstein