“Havah Nagilah” Goes to the Night Clubs https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/arts-culture/2023/06/havah-nagilah-goes-to-the-night-clubs/

June 30, 2023 | Alyson Krueger
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Written in 1918 to capture the spirit of Zionist pioneers, Havah Nagilah doesn’t seem like the sort of song that would be popular in trendy restaurants in 2023. But, writes Alyson Krueger, it is:

On a Monday afternoon in May, Havah Nagilah, the infectious Jewish folk song, was reverberating through the Monte-Carlo Beach Club, a resort on the Mediterranean Sea in Monaco. The music was coming from a cliff-side, open-air venue, where revelers dressed in suits and dresses were dancing in circles and swirling cloth napkins in the air. Some people passing by remarked how lovely it was that a Jewish wedding was taking place. But a server quickly corrected them. That was no Jewish wedding, he said. It was an after-party for the Formula 1 car race from the previous day.

Havah Nagilah, a song traditionally played at Jewish life events including weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs, is now making appearances at highly secular, non-Jewish gatherings. You can hear it at sporting events, trendy bars and clubs, music festivals, and private parties. “It is played from time to time here at Citi Field, especially when we have an organist,” said Julia Baxley, a spokeswoman for the Mets baseball team, in an email.

It is played at least once a weekend at Calissa, a Greek restaurant in Water Mill, NY, that hosts big-name D.J.s and performers like Samantha Ronson and Wyclef Jean.

James Loeffler, a professor of Jewish history at the University of Virginia who has studied the song, said he wasn’t surprised Havah Nagilah was getting so much airtime today. “It’s a song that is about transformation and reinvention, so that is destined to keep happening,” he said. “It’s always had new lives.”

Read more on New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/24/style/hava-nagila-bars-clubs-sports-events.html