The melody is based on a Hassidic Nigun. It was composed in 1918, to celebrate the Balfour Declaration and the British victory over the Ottomans in 1917. It was first performed in a mixed choir concert in Jerusalem.
Abraham Zevi Idelsohn (1882–1938), a professor at Hebrew University, began cataloging all known Jewish music and teaching classes in musical composition; one of his students was a promising cantorial student, Moshe Nathanson, who with the rest of his class was presented by the professor with a 19th-century, slow, melodious, chant (niggun or nigun) and assigned to add rhythm and words to fashion a modern Hebrew song. There are competing claims regarding Hava Nagila's composer, with both Idelsohn and Nathanson being suggested.
The niggun has been attributed to the Sadigurer Chasidim, who lived in what is now Ukraine. The text was probably refined by Idelsohn. Members of the community began to immigrate to Jerusalem in 1915, and Idelsohn wrote in 1932 that he had been inspired by that melody.
|Transliteration||Hebrew text||English translation|
|Hava nagila ve-nismeḥa||
הבה נגילה ונשמחה
|Let's rejoice and be happy|
|Hava neranenah ve-nismeḥa||
הבה נרננה ונשמחה
|Let's sing and be happy|
|Uru, uru aḥim!||
!עורו, עורו אחים
|Awake, awake, my brothers!|
|Uru aḥim be-lev samea���||
עורו אחים בלב שמח
|Awake my brothers with a happy heart|
|(repeat line four times)|
|Uru aḥim, uru aḥim!||
!עורו אחים, עורו אחים
|Awake, my brothers, awake, my brothers!|
|With a happy heart|
- Singer Harry Belafonte is known for his version of the song, which was recorded for his album Belafonte at Carnegie Hall in 1959. He rarely gave a concert without singing it, and stated that the two “stand out” songs from his professional career were “The Banana Boat Song,” and “Hava Nagila”. Belafonte noted and claimed, "Life is not worthwhile without it. Most Jews in America learned that song from me."
- Brave Combo
- Glen Campbell
- Chubby Checker
- Carmela Corren - Israeli singer
- Celia Cruz
- Dick Dale and the Del Tones (surf rock)
- Neil Diamond, in addition to having performed Hava Nagila in his 1994 Live In America concert, incorporated it into The Jazz Singer, based on Samson Raphaelson's play, in which he acted out a cantor with popular-music ambitions.
- Dream Theater performed a cover of "Hava Nagila" in Tel Aviv, Israel on June 16, 2009.
- Bob Dylan
- Lena Horne, "Now!" (US #92, 1963)
- Irving Fields
- Ivan Rebroff
- Four Jacks and a Jill released a version of the song on their 1965 album, Jimmy Come Lately.
- Connie Francis
- Abraham Zevi Idelsohn published the Hebrew song book, "Sefer Hashirim," in 1922, which includes the first publication of his arrangement of the song Hava Nagila. He also produced the first commercial recording in 1922, on the Polyphon record label ("Order No. 8533."), as part of a series which recorded 39 Hebrew folk songs.
- Jon Lord of Deep Purple included Hava Nagila in his solo keyboard improvisations as heard on Made in Europe (1975).
- Betty Madigan, "Dance Everyone Dance" (US #31, 1958)
- Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
- Party Animals
- Frank Slay and his Orchestra, "Flying Circle" (US #45, 1962)
- The Spotnicks
- Pete Townshend, whose ability to play the song was instrumental to his induction in The Who.
- The Barry Sisters
- Nissim Black, a Jewish Orthodox rapper, recorded an adaptation titled "The Hava Song".
Use in sports
Supporters of the Dutch association football club AFC Ajax, although not an official Jewish club, commonly use Jewish imagery. A central part of Ajax fans' culture, the song Hava Nagila can often be heard sung in the Stadium by the team's supporters, and at one point ringtones of "Hava Nagila" could even be downloaded from the club's official website.
Supporters of the English football club Tottenham Hotspur commonly refer to themselves as Yids and are strongly associated with Jewish symbolism and culture. "Hava Nagila" has been adopted as an anthem of sorts by the club, and was one of the most frequently sung songs at White Hart Lane.
2012 London Olympics
- Loeffler, James. "Hava Nagila's Long, Strange Trip. The unlikely history of a Hasidic melody". myjewishlearning.com. My Jewish Learning.
Like many modern Israeli and popular Jewish songs, Hava Nagila began its life as a Hasidic melody in Eastern Europe
- The secret history of Hava Nagila
- Roberta Grossman, Director/Producer; Sophie Sartain, Writer/Producer (2012). Hava Nagila (The Movie) (NTSC B&W and color, widescreen, closed-captioned). Los Angeles, CA, USA: Katahdin Productions, More Horses Productions. OCLC 859211976. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
The song you thought you knew. The story you won't believe.
- NPR staff, 2013, "Film Hoists 'Hava Nagila' Up Onto A Chair, In Celebration Of Song And Dance." NPR (online), February 28, 2013, see , accessed 3 September 2015.
- Yudelson, Larry. "Who wrote Havah Nagilah?". RadioHazak. Larry Yudelson. Archived from the original on 2008-07-29. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
- Belafonte, Harry (1959) Belafonte at Carnegie Hall: The Complete Concert (LP) RCA Victor LOC-6006
- "Hava Nagila, What Is It? (Part I)" at YouTube[unreliable source?]
- Leland, John. (2004) Hip: The History, New York, NY, USA: HarperCollins, p. 206.
- "Hava Nagila Twist", on The Hokey Pokey:Organized Dancing (1991)
- "Carmela Corren – International". Germany: Ariola – 70354 IU. 1963. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
- Neil Diamond Live In America 1994, at YouTube
- Dream Theater: vídeo de música Judaica no show em Israel, luew, 19/06/09
- Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
- Ivan Rebroff – The Very Best Of Ivan Rebroff (1990, CD), retrieved 2021-02-05
- Four Jacks and a Jill, Jimmy Come Lately Retrieved May 13, 2015
- "Abraham Zvi Idelsohn: The Thesaraus of Jewish Music & Hava Nagila". www.seligman.org.il. Retrieved November 27, 2020.
- "Set Lists 1968 to 1976". The Highway Star. Retrieved 2012-06-18.
- "Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah". Fat Wreck Chords. Retrieved 2019-06-11.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 521. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Rogovoy, Seth (2019-11-12). "The Secret Jewish History of The Who". The Forward. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- Adkins, Laura E. (9 December 2020). "Orthodox rapper Nissim Black's new single, 'The Hava Song,' remakes 'Hava Nagila' just in time for Hanukkah". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
- Amsterdam Journal; A Dutch Soccer Riddle: Jewish Regalia Without Jews, The New York Times, 28 March 2005.
- Hava Nagila! – Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad, 15 October 2013
- 'Waar komt de geuzennaam 'Joden' toch vandaan?', Het Parool, 1 February 2014.
- Promised Land: A Northern Love Story – Anthony Clavane, 12 February 2014
- The Yid Army’s chants turn anti-semitism into kitsch banter, Financial Times, 20 September 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hava Nagila.|
- Hava Nagila's Long, Strange Trip at My Jewish Learning
- Hora Music, How do you sing and dance "Hava Nagila" - lyrics and steps
- Who wrote "Havah Nagilah"?
- Hava Nagila at HebrewSongs.com
- Discogs search for other remakes of "Hava Nagila"
- Historical research includes first recording of Hava Nagila
- Romani version of "Hava Nagila" (Aven, rromalen)
- on YouTube