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

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"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.; —


'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.