You and your groom got through the ceremony. The glass is broken. You spent time alone. The guests are enjoying cocktails. It’s time for your grand entrance. You’ll probably show off your first dance. And most likely, right after, you and all of your closest family and friends will gallop onto the dance floor and the Jewish instinct kicks in “Fiddler on the Roof”-style: you and your wedding guests grapevine your way into a festive hora dance.

Dance has always been a part of the cultural element of Judaism, usually incorporated into celebratory occasions as early as Exodus 15:20, which was when Miriam led the women in rhythmic dances after the crossing of the Sea of Reeds from Egyptian slavery to freedom. Today, dance also inspires spiritual expression.

So, it’s no wonder that the hora is the norm-a at Jewish weddings. It’s a time to celebrate and honor traditions!

The hora, also sometimes spelled, horah, is danced in 6 beats, usually to the song “Hava Nagila”:

  • Form a circle with your guests and hold hands
  • Step out on your left foot
  • Put your right foot behind your left
  • Step out on your left foot again
  • Kick your right foot out
  • Kick your left foot out
  • Repeat until you’re pooped!

Have you ever mushed up a bunch of Yiddish-sounding words and faked the lyrics, because, really, you have NO idea what the words are? Admit it, you have no idea. Thanks to the Yentas, now, you can dance and sing the right words:

Hava nagila (Let’s rejoice)
Hava nagila (Let’s rejoice)
Hava nagila v’nismecha (Let’s rejoice and be happy)

Hava neranenah (Let’s sing)
Hava neranenah (Let’s sing)
Hava neranenah v’nismecha (Let’s sing and be happy)

Uru, uru achim! (Awake, awake, brothers!)
Uru achim b’lev sameach (Awake brothers with a happy heart)

Uru achim, uru achim! (Awake, brothers, awake, brothers!)
B’lev sameach (With a happy heart)

Somewhere during the dance, your cousins or the fathers or even some shnockered groomsmen will grab some chairs, lift you up, and toss you around while you hold on for dear life. This makes for some fabulous photos! Word to the wise: Have your venue set aside two arm chairs near the dance floor just for this portion of the evening. Emphasis on the ARM chairs. You’ll want something to grab on to. Trust us!!

Photo by Eight20 Photography

A mother or an aunt will probably toss a napkin at you. This is not because you have chicken skewer sauce on your face left over from cocktail hour. This is because there’s an Orthodox rule that women and men, including the bride and groom, cannot touch, therefore, dance together. When the bride and groom hold on to each end of the napkin, they can “dance” together up in the chairs without touching. Conservative and Reform couples usually incorporate this tradition in their hora dances due to its festive nature, even if they’re not having an Orthodox wedding.

Guests who have never attended a Jewish wedding often say they are overwhelmed by the warm, festive, and fun nature of dancing the hora. It’s a sure-fire bet that the party officially starts from that very first “hava” to the very last “nagila.” So get ready, brides and grooms, because once you grab hands, the party never lets go!

The Wedding YentasTM , A Guide for the Jewish BrideTM, is a wedding planning site that offers tips, explanations of traditions, a vendor directory, and Real Weddings showcasing authentic and professional images for couples planning Jewish weddings. To read more articles and features by The Wedding YentasTM click here!
  1. Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the internet the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people consider worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  2. Hi,

    What size floor does one need for the hora for a wedding with 140 people?



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *