Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Hava Negila Turns 100 years old with some great old film clips of Danny Kaye and Louis Armstrong

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Mentally Prepare For Challenges

 The more mentally prepared you are for challenges to your being in a serene state, the greater your ability to maintain this state. The goal to strive for is to be able to remain in a serene state even when other people say and do things that could potentially cause distress. Mentally practice remaining serene regardless of what anyone says. Knowing that you can do this in your imagination will free you from worrying about what anyone may say in the future.

Love Yehuda Lave

Though ubiquitously sung, century of 'Hava Nagila' goes largely uncelebrated

First catching on amid jubilation at Allenby's arrival in Jerusalem, it remains a favorite through a hundred years of evolving versions


"Hava Nagila," that beloved, hackneyed Hebrew song that's become a symbol of celebration and is sung at many a Diaspora bar mitzvah and wedding, and plenty of places beyond, turned 100 this year.

It's an anniversary that's gone remarkably unnoticed, with the possible exception of one local singing duo, Project Hora Groove, who have made it their personal task to bring back all the Hebrew oldies, often set to a newer beat.

Hora Groove, Jackie Even Chen and singer Mazal Levy, together with guitarist Gilad Argas, percussionist Or Binyamin and musical producer Alon Ohana, will perform "Hava Nagila" and other age-old favorites on Friday, September 14, 11:30 a.m., at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.

It's mostly an older crowd that comes to hear them, said Even Chen, although there's always a scattering of younger folks as well.

"It's for people who appreciate a genre of music that's getting lost," said Even Chen. "These songs are not taught to kids in kindergarten any longer; they teach them the more recent songs, like those by Naomi Shemer and Uzi Hitman, but these songs, that were the first of the first, are forgotten."

Well, not completely forgotten, but nearly. The 100-year-old song is still a staple at American Jewish celebrations, as documentary filmmaker Roberta Grossman showed in her 2012 film, "Hava Nagila (The Movie)."

But in Israel, where this tune was composed, it's not always an obvious addition to the playlist.

Even Chen thinks "Hava Nagila" lost its place among Hebrew favorites because its tune is Hasidic at the core, a sound that the early settlers discarded, eschewing any connection to the old country and the languages of their previous lives.

"There were other songs that were more about patriotism and the homeland," he said.

"Hava Nagila" — 'Let Us Rejoice" — was written in celebration of the arrival of General Edmund Allenby in Jerusalem, explained Talila Eliram, director of the Israeli Folk Music Research Center at Bar Ilan University. The residents of the city rejoiced to be rid of the Ottoman conquerors and were overjoyed about the end of a difficult period for Jews in Israel.

When General Edmund Allenby conquered Jerusalem in 1917, the Jewish public was euphoric, and rejoiced with the song, 'Hava Nagila.' In this photo, the public waits for Allenby's entrance to Jerusalem, December 11, 1917 (Courtesy of the Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress)

"General Allenby entered Jerusalem and the Jews saw it as a sign of the Messiah," said Eliram. "They waited for Abraham Zevi Idelsohn, a music professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, to offer a symbol of this elation."

Idelsohn, who had originally trained as a cantor in Latvia, took a Hassidic tune, a niggun of the Sadigurer Hasidim, and used it without words to create the first version of "Hava Nagila."

He wrote in his 1921 book, "Sefer Hashirim" ("The Book of Songs"), that it became a popular folk song, a "Palestinian" song that had originated from the Balkans when he first wrote in 1915, and that he used it in 1918 when the city needed a song to celebrate the arrival of Allenby.

Abraham Idelsohn, credited with composing the music, and possibly the text of 'Hava Nagila,' around 1918 (Courtesy Jewish Music Research Centre)

Idelsohn arranged the piece in four parts for his male-and-female choir, and later wrote that it caught the imagination of the audience and spread throughout the city, the country and then the Jewish world.

There is, however, another version to the story, said Eliram.

According to the second story, Idelsohn brought the tune to his students at the Lemel School in Jerusalem, asking them to write words that would fit the elation of the time period. One student, a future cantor named Moshe Nathanson, later said that he chose the words from the Hallel prayer, "Ze hayom asa hashem, nagila v'nismecha vo."

"This is the day that God has chosen, let us rejoice and celebrate in it," is a line that comes from Psalm 118.

Eliram said she thinks that the latter story, as told by Nathanson, is the correct version because it just seems more likely.

"But we really don't know," she said.

The song was eventually recorded by a choir of cantors who sang it very slowly. Later on, the beat got faster, often joined by a circle of people dancing the hora.

In Amazon's "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," wedding guests got their groove on to 'Hava Nagila' in the first episode, aired in 2017 (Courtesy Amazon)

The words have also changed, slightly, over time.

In the original version, the words were "ur achim b'lev sameach," "Awake brothers with a happy heart!"

In recent years, said Eliram, it's often sung as "muhrahim b'lev sameach," "One has to have a happy heart."

"A lot of Sabras sing it that way," said Eliram.

Chen and his fellow musicians sing it according to the original text, he said.

"It was the new immigrants who turned it into 'muhrahim,' he said.

These days, Chen and his Project often take their show to schools, where they teach kids some of the older songs, often showing them the similarities between the songs of yesteryear and more modern music.

"Hava Nagila" is just one of the 50 or 60 songs in the Project's repertoire, all originating from the first aliyah to Israel in the late 1880s, when Jews began learning Hebrew, as well as Hebrew songs, said Chen.

The band also works with Zemer Reshet, a company that has digitized many of the old recordings and offers them online, including "Hava Nagila."

"It's a song that's just caught the imagination of a lot of people," said Even Chen. "Harry Belafonte made a career out of it."


The Project takes it all a step further, renewing the sound with a twist of reggae, some rock 'n roll and even punk, said Chen. They're now on their fourth album, which includes "Hava Nagila."

"I always ask my students if they know it or don't know it," said Eliram. "They always know it, because it has a good beat and it's happy and it's sung whenever you want to be happy."

OFFICIAL TRAILER for Hava Nagila (The Movie)

Coming soon to New York, Los Angeles, and Florida

Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis and Leonard Nimoy are among those featured in filmmaker Roberta Grossman's history of the song "Hava Nagila," from its Russian origins to its prevalence in Jewish culture.Initial release: March 1, 2013 (New York City)Director: Roberta GrossmanScreenplay: Sophie SartainCinematography: Michael ChinProducers: Roberta Grossman, Sophie Sartain, Marta Kauffman


Roger Ebert's review:

My mother's favorite episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" was not one of the certified classics, like the one with the walnuts, but rather the one in which middle-aged comedy writer Buddy Sorrell was belatedly bar mitzvahed. God, she would have loved "Hava Nagila: The Movie," a slight, but very satisfying, and at times, surprisingly moving, documentary about the inescapable Jewish anthem and wedding and bar mitzvah music staple.

But you don't, as the old saying goes, have to be Jewish to enjoy it. Because everyone knows "Hava Nagila." It is an instantly recognizable musical cliché on par with "Kumbaya," a pervasive earworm so irresistibly catchy, yet so cheesy that even "It's a Small World" might be moved to protest, "Please, make it stop.

"It's not just a song, it's an event," offers Josh Kun, one of the academics who speaks on the mystery, history and meaning of "Hava Nagila." "It's a song that screams, 'This is a Jewish song.'"

Not everyone is happy about that. Counters Henry Sapoznik, founder of KlezKamp, a Yiddish folk arts program, "It's relentless, resilient, but so are cockroaches. … It represents for multitudes of people Jewish music and that's all that they will ever know."

There is much more to "Hava Nagila," however, than meets the ear. As another expert observes, the song is "a portal into a century-and-a-half of Jewish history." To find out how this song went "from the Ukraine (where it began life as a wordless prayer) to YouTube," director Roberta Grossman embarks on a global "Hava quest."

Strap yourself in for a Hava-palooza. Grossman unearths a dizzying array of clips from films and TV shows in which "Hava Nagila" has been featured, including "Private Benjamin," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Wedding Crashers," "Daddy Day Care," "The Danny Kaye Show," "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Simpsons."

But wait; you ain't heard nothin' yet. "Hava Nagila" has also turned up in "Raisin in the Sun," a Bruce Springsteen concert, and the B-side of Glen Campbell's single, "True Grit." Chubby Checker twisted to it, and Lena Horne adapted it for her powerful civil rights anthem, "Now."

And Bob Dylan! To paraphrase a joke from Ernst Lubitsch's "To Be or Not to Be," what the Germans did to Poland, Dylan does to "Hava Nagila."

The movie includes interviews with two of the song's most prominent ambassadors, who were instrumental in introducing the song to a mass American audience, Connie Francis, an Italian Catholic, who included it on her bestselling album, "Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites" ("I'm 10 percent Jewish on my manager's side," she jokes), and Harry Belafonte, who movingly recalls singing the song in Germany.


Inevitably, "Hava Nagila" becomes a target for spoof and parodies (Allan Sherman's ode to upward mobility, "Harvey and Sheila") and ultimately outright scorn by a new generation attempting to take Jewish music into the 21st Century.

But "Hava Nagila," endures as "an immediate connection to tradition and community." Its lyrics speak of rejoicing ("We are a happy people," one rabbi proclaims) and throughout Jewish history, the song has been the best and most defiant answer to oppression and misery.

Writer Sophie Sartain tries to get cute with onscreen identifications (Someone Else, Really Smart Historian), which gets old fast, but Grossman keeps the film as briskly paced as a Hora, the dance that became "Hava Nagila's" soul mate.

Grossman tackles several intriguing questions, among them: Which is more Jewish, "Hava Nagila" or gefilte fish? And who was the actual author of the song? (Two competing families stake their claims.) But the one, eternal question that this documentary dances around may never be fully, truly answered: What's up with this song?



Danny Kaye & Harry Belafonte sing "Hava Nagila" 1965

In one of the most memorable and iconic moments from the four seasons of The Danny Kaye Show, Harry Belafonte and Danny sing "Hava Nagila" on September 15, 1965. The full episode is available on The Best of the Danny Kaye Show 2-DVD collection.

As long as we are talking about Danny Kaye here is a piece from 20 years earlier . . Gypsy Drinking Song - The Inspector General

Great and funny song from The Inspector General--Warner Bros. 1949. Starring Danny Kaye


Whisking through the whispering woods on a wild Romani pony
With a yak yak yak, and a yak se drak, and a yak se drak se donye.
Rides the gypsy
The gypsy
The gee-eee-eee-ipsy
The gip-ip-ip-ip-ip-ip-ip-ip-ip-ip-ip-ipsy.
The world thinks him careless and tipsy and free
But oh, the poor gypsy (scream, squeak, gasp)
His lot is not what it ought to be. For...
Night and day and day and night there's a man they're sick of obeying
With a whip
In his hand.
Over gypsy he stand.
And this is what he is saying:
Um. Hum. Hmm.
Play gypsy, sing gypsy, dance gypsy, laugh gypsy, cry gypsy, live gypsy, die gypsy
Drink to goodbyes and drink to hellos.
Drink to the open; drink to the closed.
Drink to me only with thine eyes, and I will drink with my nose.
And so we drink!
But first we sing.

-Pause while Danny Kaye teaches chorus to his audience. It consists of "zoom," "shtock, shtock," and "Ha!Ha!Ha!" and another song--look at the bottom of the Description for lyrics/transcription, care of QAZRUS.-

Play, gypsy, sing gypsy, dance gypsy, leap gypsy, dream gypsy, slide gypsy, slink gypsy
And so we drink.
But first we play.

-Pause while Danny Kaye plays violin-

Play gypsy, sing gypsy, dance gypsy, smile gypsy, wink gypsy, blink gypsy, shrink gypsy
And so we drink.
But first we dance.

-Pause while Danny Kaye does flaming sword dance-

And so we drink
To everyone we admire.
To the girl who sets your heart a glow and sets your heart on...FIRE!
And so we drink!

(from http://theboard.byu.edu/questions/25500/)

The song called "Ах зачем эта ночь" [ah, zachem eta noch], "Ow, why is this night".
There is a lyrics for you, you can add them to description.

"Ах, зачем эта ночь
так было хороша
Не болела бы грудь,
не страдала душа."

"Ah, zachem eta noch
tak byla khorosha
ne bolela by grud'
ne stradala dusha"

and if you interested

translated [by me]
"Ow, why is this night
was so good(lovely)
if only wouldn't ache the chest
if only wouldn't suffer the soul

but this is not the end of it.
russian romance part ending and he's starting to sing faster. This is ukrainian song "Їхав козак за Дунай", and here is lyrics:

"Лучше было бы, лучше было бы не ходить,
Лучше было бы, лучше было бы не любить,
Лучше было бы, лучше было бы и не знать,
Как теперь, как теперь забывать."

"Лучше було б, лучше було б не ходити,
Лучше було б, лучше було б не любити,
Лучше було б, лучше було б та й не знати,
Як тепер, як тепер забувати."

but there is a thing, Danny is using mix of this two languages [I don't know why], so he's singing like this:

Danny's version
"Лучше было бы, лучше было бы не ходити,
Лучше было бы, лучше было бы не любити,
Лучше было бы, лучше та й не знати,
Чем теперь, чем теперь забыва...
you want something to drink..."

"It would be better, it would be better not to go,
It would be better, it would be better not to love,
It would be better, it would be better not to know
Than it is now to forget.."

Louis Armstrong Benny Goodman Danny Kaye Laurindo de Almeida Nestor Amaral in A SONG IS BORN 2

Laurindo de Almeida, Nestor Amaral, Zé Carioca (Cariocas Boy) ao lado de mestres do Jazz: Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman,Golden Gate Quartet, Tommy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton e outros...

  • Category
  • Song
    • A Song Was Born - Part 1 (08-06-47)
  • Artist
    • Louis Armstrong
  • Album
    • Complete Jazz Series 1947
  • Licensed to YouTube by
    • The Orchard Music (on behalf of Complete Jazz Series); The Harry Fox Agency, Inc. (HFA), PEDL, Warner Chappell, SOLAR Music Rights Management, and 3 Music Rights Societies
  • Song
    • A Song Was Born
  • Artist
    • Louis Armstrong
  • Album
    • The Cradle of Jazz - Louis Armstrong, Vol. 2
  • Licensed to YouTube by
    • SME (on behalf of History); The Harry Fox Agency, Inc. (HFA), SOLAR Music Rights Management, PEDL, EMI Music Publishing, ASCAP, and 2 Music Rights Societies

Louis Armstrong & Danny Kaye, "A Song is Born" - Part 1

From the movie "A Song is Born" (1948). All the greats of Jazz are here:
Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Golden Gate Quartet, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Mel Powell...

Iyar 4


Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveichik of Brisk (1810-1892), famed talmudic scholar and author of the Beis HaLevi commentary. Legend says that his first wife divorced him after mistakenly thinking he was an ignoramus. In 1854, Rabbi Soloveichik joined the leadership of the famed Voluzhin Yeshiva, the center of Jewish scholarship at that time. He was known for his great piety; it is said that his fear of sin was comparable to an ordinary person's fear when his life is in danger. He became rabbi of Brisk, Lithuania, thus launching the famous Brisker rabbinic dynasty; his son was the famed Rabbi Chaim Soloveichik.

Tongs could only be made by tongs (Ethics of the Fathers 5:8).


The Talmud states that God gave man the first pair of tongs, because it is impossible to forge a pair of tongs without already having another pair to hold the metal in the fire.

A wise man said that the way to really make an apple pie from scratch is to first invent the universe.

These ideas should be sobering thoughts for people who consider themselves self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is obviously a myth; we all must rely on others, in varying degrees.

Many people find it hard to accept their dependency. They see it as demeaning and a sign of weakness. They may take radical measures to prove to themselves and to others that they can stand on their own two feet. This rejection of healthy dependency can give rise to many problems.

Certainly, being lazy and expecting others to do everything for us is wrong, but going to the opposite extreme and denying our need of both emotional and physical support is equally wrong. We should be able to accept our dependence upon others, and their dependence upon us, as a part of life.

Today I shall ...

try to realize that absolute self-sufficiency is an impossibility. Rather, I will be able to accept appropriate help without considering it demeaning.

See you tomorrow

Love Yehuda Lave

enjoy Hava Nagila

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

2850 Womble Road, Suite 100-619, San Diego
United States


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