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Winnipeg Jewish Review Recommends Seeing Hava Nagila

by Rhonda Prepes, May 16, 2013

Funny and entertaining, Hava Nagila (The Movie) reveals universal themes about the importance of joy, the power of music and the resilient spirit of a people.

Producer and Director Robert Grossman answers the question, “Where did "Hava Nagila" come from and what does it mean? The tune originated as a Ukrainian folk song, and the Hebrew lyrics (translated, roughly, as "Let's rejoice") were written nearly a century ago. It didn't become an anthem of Jewish celebrations until about the time of the founding of Israel in 1948. In the 1950s, the song exploded in popularity, sung by entertainers of all stripes, not just Jewish stars. It continues to be popular today in America and Europe.
Hava Nagila (The Movie) captures the Jewish journey over the past 150 years. It also reveals the power of one song to express and sustain identity, to bring celebration to life, to transmit lessons across generations and to bridge cultural divides that can only be achieved through music.

Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Leonard Nimoy, Regina Spektor and more, Hava Nagila (The Movie) follows the song from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the kibbutzim of Palestine to the cul-de-sacs of America.

It stops at key places – Ukraine, Israel, the Catskills and Greenwich Village, where Belafonte performed a hopeful version in the late 1950s, only to be countered by Bob Dylan, who butchers the song in his version Talkin’ Hava Negiliah Blues. The film covers Allan Sherman’s parody Harvey and Sheila, and Lena Horne’s civil rights anthem Now – both set to the tune of Hava Nagila. The film spotlights Italian-American crooner Connie Francis, who made the song the first track on her famous album of Jewish favorites; and Glen Campbell, who released an instrumental version of Hava on the B-side of his theme song from True Grit. It also dissects the pop culture references to Hava Nagila in film and TV and brings the song up to the present, where it’s a rallying tune at not only Bar Mitzvahs and Jewish weddings, but also at sports games, and nightclubs.

Don't miss Hava Nagila (The Movie) on Sunday, November 18th, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rady Jewish Community Centre, 123 Doncaster Street.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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