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This entry is part of an online exhibit entitled: "Hava Nagila: From Idelsohn to Belafonte & Beyond," prepared by Eva Heinstein with help from the JMRC staff. To view the exhibit in its entirety click on the link above.
During and immediately after WWII, the folksong Hava Nagila began to gain popularity worldwide. In 1938, the Barry Sisters (Clara and Mena Bagelman) joined forces with pianist and composer Sam Medoff, and famous klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras to produce the weekly WHN radio program “Yiddish Melodies in Swing.” They performed a repertoire that fused traditional klezmer music, jazz, Yiddish and popular American songs. Although the first known recording of the Barry Sisters’ Hava Nagila (alternatively titled, Come Let Us Be Joyous) was released on the album “At Home With The Barry Sisters,” produced by Roulette Records in 1958, we may assume that the Barry Sister's performed the song in their broadcasts well before it was released on album. Hava Nagila was re-released on the album ‘The World of the Barry Sisters: Memorable Jewish Melodies’ in 1964. Finally in 1991, Legacy International released a collection of the Barry Sister’s greatest Yiddish hits, including Hava Nagila.