“It quickly became an unofficial hit,” he said. (Banger, if you will.) Jewish youth groups in the United States and abroad have adopted it. By the 1940s, diaspora Jews began singing the song in the aftermath of the Holocaust. “It became a symbol of happiness, a symbol of joyful rebirth and survival, and continued from there,” Prof. Loeffler said.
Harry Belafonte, who was married to Julie Robinson, a Jewish woman, recorded the song in the late 1950s and it became even more mainstream. “That was a big draw,” Prof. Loefler said. “People started making different versions of it.” By the 1990s, European football teams were using it in stadiums, and Eastern European gymnasts were using it for their floor routines.
“It’s something that’s very recognized, very simple, very easy, very ubiquitous,” he added. “That’s why it works both at the ballpark and at the ice skating rink.”
Musicians performing the song today report that it was an instant crowd pleaser.
Alex Megane, a 44-year-old DJ and producer from Greifswald, Germany, worked with sound engineer Mark Van Dam to create a club mix track for the song. “I’ve played in Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Estonia, Poland, basically all over Europe,” he said. “This record really captivates and people love it.”
The timing may seem surprising given the rise in anti-Semitic incidents. “We are now living in a strange time, with anti-Semitism on the rise, not only in this country, but especially in Europe,” Prof. Loefler said. But research also shows that Americans prefer the Jewish religion and that Jewish culture is popular, he said. “I think Haba Nagira is an interesting reflection of this,” he says.