MembersThe Hora, Israel’s National Pastime

Prominent rabbis have taught that people can connect with the Almighty through prayer, song and joyous dance.

By Gundula M. Tegtmeyer | | Topics: Land of Israel
Young Jewish men dance the Hora at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Young Jewish men dance the Hora at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

Song and dance have always played a central role in Judaism. The Torah describes King David dancing exuberantly on the occasion of the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem wearing the priestly linen ephod.

David together with all the House of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with sound of horns. (2 Sam 6:15)

Rabbi Baal Shem Tov (1698 – 1760) taught the followers of Hasidic Judaism that people can connect with G-d through prayer, song and joyous dance.

Though more secular but no less exuberant, Israelis love folk dance, or rikudai am. These traditional dances bring together young and old from all social classes and ethnicities and are a joyful expression of Israeli identity.

The Hora, the traditional circle dance, is one of the most popular, the simple step sequences invite spontaneous participation.

The name Hora has been borrowed. Some sources attribute it to Romanian, where the word describes a folk dance performed in a circle. Other sources place the word’s origin in the...

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