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Movie review: 'Hava Nagila' a breezy history of Jewish culture

Published May 2, 2013 9:23 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"Hava Nagila" is a staple of bar mitzvahs and Jewish weddings, but the puckishly titled documentary "Hava Nagila: The Movie" engagingly explores the song's roots and its evolution as a symbol of American Jewishness.

Director Roberta Grossman and writer Sophie Sartain trace how the song's symbolism has transformed from a celebration of Israeli pioneers to an icon of suburban assimilation to a reviled piece of Jewish kitsch and back again to beloved cultural touchstone.

The filmmakers (who include "Friends" co-creator Marta Kauffman as one of the producers) gather fun interviews from rabbis, scholars, performers (including Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis and Leonard Nimoy) and musicians for a lively insight into how a song has become reflective of a people's constantly evolving culture.

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HHH

'Hava Nagila'

Opens Friday, May 3, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; not rated, but probably PG-13 for some language and mature themes; 75 minutes.