a fine thing to be joyful. And is anything more joyful than
coming home after a long journey? I'm going to tell you a story
about a song and a journey home that took two thousand years!"
So begins this charming picture book which brings to life the
real history of Hava Nagila -- a song that is sung at Jewish simchas and
baseball games alike! Learn how this soulful, Jewish tune began
while journeying towards the building of the state of Israel.
Meet Professor A.Z. Idelsohn and his young student Moshe
Nathanson who, by making "a sad song happy," created the joyful
tune of Hava Nagila. Moshe Nathanson, the author of HAVA NAGILA
grew up to become the cantor at the Society for the Advancement
of Judaism in New York City, spending many years there with
Mordechai M. Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionism. He also
wrote the musical setting for the beginning of the Birkat
HaMazon (Grace after Meals).
COME LET US BE JOYFUL:
THE STORY OF HAVA NAGILA
An AJL Notable Children's Book of 2000
illustrated by Rosalind Charney Kaye.
Publisher: UAHC Press
Pub. Date: September 2000
$12.95. 30pp. Nonfiction for Grades 2-5.
How I Came to Write this Book
I was visiting the bookstore of the Workmen's Circle in New
York City and came upon a book for adults about the life Moshe Nathanson. It was written by a cantorial student of his, who
knew Moshe for many years. He described Moshe as a modest and
gifted man, who taught many generations music, in synagogues, in
schools, and at summer camps. The more I read about Moshe, the
more eager I was to tell his story to children: what could be
more inspiring than to see a young person making such a joyful
and lasting contribution to Jewish (and world) culture? As I
began researching the book, I discovered that one of Moshe
Nathanson's daughters, Deena Starr, lived only four blocks away
from me in New York. I interviewed her at her apartment, and she
offered me wonderful biographical information about her father
as well as the photo of Moshe that appears in the book.
Now when Deena goes to weddings and tells people that her father
wrote HAVA NAGILA, she has this book to show them!
"Manushkin's writing is as joyful as the tune,"He told his
music class, 'Boys, listen to this song.' Well, some boys
listened, and some did not." And Kaye's pictures are a perfect
accompaniment. This is a beautiful and happy book that should
find a large audience among music lovers as well as children who
like a good story."
Judy Chernak, Children's Literature
"Young readers will be inspired to learn how someone their
own age can make an important and lasting contribution."
Dr. Evelyn B. Freeman, Director, School of Teaching and
Learning, The Ohio State University
"This book is a wonderful and exuberant celebration of a song
that is indelibly linked to the consciousness of the Jewish
people and our relationship to the Land of Israel."
Here are a few sketches and finished art.
Rabbi Joseph R. Black, Congregation Albert, New Mexico, composer
Click the thumbnails for a closer view of each.