Photo by Jeffrey Schmieg Photography
Submitted by Becky Salita
The Hora, says Wikipedia, is an Israeli circle dance typically danced to the music of Hava Nagila and is traditionally danced at Jewish weddings and other joyous occasions in the Jewish community, like Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
The actual word, Hora, means a circle and has Greek roots. The dance is done in a circle and the hosts of the event welcome all of their guests to join hands and participate: young and old, family and friends, Jewish and non-Jewish. The Hora has become a very meaningful, integral part of the modern-day Bar/Bat Mitzvah party because it is both fun and inclusive.
The dance is fun and sometimes frenetic! An Emcee calls out the steps – a series of Grapevines, sometimes multiple circles moving in different directions, some kicks, clapping, a movement to the center and back, and…of course, lifting the mitzvah child and willing family members in the chair! Why do we lift? Many have their lofty ideas but, basically, it is to show respect to the mitzvah child. He or she is king or queen of the day. AND…because it great fun!
More than just fun; however, doing a Hora at one’s function communicates to everyone present that their presence is noticed and appreciated. It also serves as a cultural representation of Judaism as it is often the only religious/cultural event at a Bar/Bat Mitvah party. Some other rituals are Candle Lightings and saying the Havdalah blessings.
Just like one feels after attending a Bar/Bar Mitzvah ceremony, the Hora leaves people feeling a deeper connection to the host family and the Jewish culture whether it is their first time being exposed or their 100th.