Musical

Hava Nagila

Phonetic Hebrew Transcription:

Hava nagila, hava nagila,
Hava nagila, venismecha.

Hava nagila, hava nagila,
Hava nagila, venismecha.

Hava neranenah, hava venismecḥa,
Uru achim belev sameach.

Hava neranenah, hava venismecḥa,
Uru achim belev sameach.

English Translation:

Let us rejoice, let us rejoice,
Let us rejoice, and be happy.

Let us rejoice, let us rejoice,
Let us rejoice, and be happy.

Let us sing, let us be happy,
Awake my brothers with a happy heart.

Let us sing, let us be happy,
Awake my brothers with a happy heart.

Going through my family attic, I came across a box of tapes hand-labelled “Yiddish Yodel 1992-95.” From asking around, I learned that a group of relatives and family friends kept up a tradition of singing together every year, to practice their traditional language and reconnect over their immigrant ancestry; most were second-generation. This song is a well-known Hebrew folk song. Although, I knew that I had heard it before, to figure that out, I had to take the tape to one of only two surviving participants in the ‘Yiddish Yodels’, who provided me with my transcription and translation. Wikipedia calls Hava Nagila “perhaps the first modern Israeli folk song in the Hebrew language that has become a staple of band performers at Jewish weddings and bar/bat mitzvah celebrations,” which would explain why I knew the tune. However, the lyrics you find there, and many other places online, are far more complicated than the ones my informant knew. It seems that when the song was passed down orally, as opposed to in writing on recorded, it became greatly simplified so that passive bearers of the tradition could participate more easily.

One online version found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hava_Nagila

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