Hava Nagila: Docu Celebrating Popular Jewish Tune

You don’t have to be Jewish to recognize the tune Hava Nagila, if you ever attended a Jewish wedding, Bar Mitzvah (for boys), or Bat Mitzvah (for girls), not to mention other holidays, ceremonies, rituals, and secular gatherings.

I caught a screening of the lovely, if sentimental in tone and conventional in form, of the documentary “Hava Nagila: The Movie,” written and directed with passion and compassion by by Roberta Grossman, while walking by the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas (Broadway and 62nd Street) and observing a line to get into the picture.

The song, whose title translates into Let’s Rejoice, is instantly recognizable, sort of musical shorthand for anything Jewish, a happy party tune that you dance to at weddings, bar mitzvahs and even at Major League Baseball games. It’s the kind of tune that conjures up wistful smiles, memories of the past, distant and recent, good and bad.

But as the director lovingly shows that the song is much more than a tale of Jewish kitsch and bad bar mitzvah fashion. It carries with it an entire constellation of historical images, cultural values, and yearning hopes for a future that’s better than the present. In other words, examining the origins of the song, Roberta shows that Hava Nagila encapsulates the entire Jewish journey over the past 150 years. Its acceptance is broad and wide, going beyond specific ethnic subcultures within the Jewish tradition.

It also reveals the power of one song to express and sustain identity, to transmit lessons across generations and to bridge cultural divides and connect us all on a universal level. (c) Official Site

I highly recommend that this docu be shown in elementary and hight schools.

MPAA: Unrated
Running time: 72 Minutes.
Directed and written by Roberta Grossman