Dear Aly: I could nevah hava (nagila) 'nuff of you!

Dear Aly,

Though you’re ten years my junior, you inspire me. At five feet two inches, you are strong—in body and spirit; you are open and kind; you are level-headed and take things as they come.

I admire your dedication. You shared that you “hope [to] inspire a generation,” and that you’ve “sacrificed a lot, but it’s been worth it to become [a] gold medalist.” Yes. You have inspired this member of “Generation Y,” and probably members of “X,” as well as most of the “Baby Boomers,” and those of “The Greatest Generation.” You have pretty universal appeal.

But what I’d like to get at is: You’ve inspired the Jews. Reinvigorated us. So thank you.

There is a heaviness that has seeped into our spiritual DNA. And why not? We’ve suffered a lot, personally and as a tribe, and so, when you come along, tumbling in on dreams of gold and cultural rhythms, you remind us … to rejoice. To REJOICE!

Hava nagila הבה נגילה Let's rejoice
Hava nagila הבה נגילה Let's rejoice
Hava nagila ve-nismeḥa הבה נגילה ונשמחה Let's rejoice and be happy

When you catapult yourself across the floor, like a slingshot, like an arrow, like a Jewish ninja, your body, unleashed, gives our pent up souls an opportunity to… SING!

Hava neranenah הבה נרננה Let's sing
Hava neranenah הבה נרננה Let's sing
Hava neranenah ve-nismeḥa הבה נרננה ונשמחה Let's sing and be happy

As we clap and send holy sparks to the top of Mt. Olympus, you AWAKEN our vitality.

Uru, uru aḥim! עורו, עורו אחים Awake, awake, brothers!
Uru aḥim be-lev sameaḥ עורו אחים בלב שמח Awake brothers with a happy heart

Inspiring both celebration and awe, you reinforce the Jewish belief (and American ideal) that with hard work one can achieve almost anything. Watching you while listening to our cultural anthem, the tsuris melts away and we remembe r… that life is gut! 

Did you know that the melody has its origins in a Ukrainian folk tune?  Though a few Olympic predecessors, mostly gentiles I believe, chose to compete to this song, I think it was a bold move for you, an American Jew, to select the song for your floor routine. Bringing our culture to the world arena in such a high spirited fashion is so very cool. Way to represent!

Today is a big day for you. 11:30am (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) is the start of the Women’s Individual All-Around where you will perform your now famous routine. Of course I want you to win. That Gold would be so sweet on so many levels.

But, Aly, I will be proud of you no matter what happens.


Good luck! Let the games, and the tumbling, begin!

From one Jewess to another, with attitude,



I could watch Aly tumble to this song all day. (Note: this footage is from a preliminary competition.)

And if you want to have an even fuller appreciation for the song, watch the trailer (director's cut) for Hava Nagila (The Movie). Who knew?

Topics: Music, Athletes, Olympics
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How to cite this page

Orcha, Gabrielle. "Dear Aly: I could nevah hava (nagila) 'nuff of you!." 2 August 2012. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 29, 2024) <>.