The Arty Semite

Author Blog: Hava Nagila

By Ron Yitzchok Eisenman

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Rav Ron Yitzchok Eisenman is the author of “The Elephant in the Room.” His blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


Yesterday was some day — I almost cannot remember the clock moving; it began early in the day at Shul and ended late at night. It was a day of constant motion and if I would fill you in on the details of the day… well, suffice to say we could sell such stories to “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”!

At about 5:00 p.m., I find myself at my next challenge of an already hectic day: attempting to find parking on the island of Manhattan. Finally, I spot a garage and quickly turn my vehicle into the lot with about 10 minutes to spare for my 5:13 appointment in midtown New York.

As I open my door and begin to exit, the dark-skinned attendant and his sidekick greet me with a smile. They could be African-American, Latino, Indian, Bangladeshi, Arab or perhaps Sephardic Jews (however, that last choice is very unlikely).

As I step out of the car and place my hat on my head, suddenly my parking pals burst out in a spontaneous rendition of Hava Nagila.”

At first I am totally shocked by this unexpected occurrence of being ‘bageled’ by these perfect parking strangers. After all, here I am in the middle of Manhattan as these two men of unknown lineage are serenading me to the tune of Hava Nagila.

As I am in a rush (which seems more and more to be the norm of my life and not the exception), I am somewhat turned off by this unneeded and bothersome waste of time. However, as I looked at their smiling faces and their genuine attempt to connect with me on my terms I realized that this impromptu medley came from a good and pure place of the human experience; namely their want and their desire to connect to another human being in friendship.

With this epiphany in hand, not only was I no longer agitated by this spontaneous song, I was elated.

Indeed, this was exactly the Godsend I needed to cheer me up on this stress ridden and difficult day.

In less time than you can say “Uru aḥim! Uru aḥim b’lev sameaḥ” I joined their duet and we immediately created the ‘Nagila Trio’ in the middle of a cold night in Manhattan.

On and on we went, “Hava Nageela, Hava Nageela…” as the three of us sang the night away. Well, that’s somewhat of an exaggeration, as in truth our opening rendition lasted about 30 seconds; however, the joy and fun we had was real and meaningful — not to mention great fodder for today’s blog.

Why ignore those moments which are so precious and so meaningful when you connect with another person in joy and simcha? Why ignore someone when they reach out to you on your terms?

If nothing else at least acknowledge and smile back — it will change your day.


Rav Ron Yitzchok Eisenman’s “The Elephant in the Room” is now available.


The Jewish Book Council is a not-for-profit organization devoted to the reading, writing and publishing of Jewish literature. For more Jewish literary blog posts, reviews of Jewish books and book club resources, and to learn about awards and conferences, please visit www.jewishbookcouncil.org.

MyJewishLearning.com is the leading transdenominational website of Jewish information and education. Visit My Jewish Learning for thousands of articles on Judaism, Jewish holidays, Jewish history and more.


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