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HORAH, the best-known folk dance of pioneer Ereẓ Israel. The dance is derived chiefly from the Romanian hora (a term going back ultimately to the Greek choros; cf. the Bulgarian horo, the Yugoslav kolo, and the Russian khorovod). To perform this dance the participants interlock arms behind their backs or on their shoulders, then take two running steps to the right, jump on the left foot, at first slowly and then accelerating (sometimes the dancers begin with a slow stationary swaying). In the course of time the energy-expending movements – strong stamps and kicks – diminished somewhat, and at present the arms are often held downward with simple hand-holding.

The earliest horah-like dances were apparently El Yivneh ha-Galil, of which three melodies became current during the Second Aliyah (1904–14), and Havah Nerannenah. The horah proper developed during the Third Aliyah (1919–23) and reached its apogee during the Fourth Aliyah (1924–31) with the dance-songs Kumah Eḥa (S. Postolsky, I. Shenhar), Havah Neẓe ba-Maḥol (Y. Admon), Anu Banu Arẓah (composer and author unknown), Ein Zeh Pele ("corrupted" to Eizeh Pele, S. Postolsky, N. Alterman), Horah Medurah (Y. Walbe, N. Alter-man) and others (Emek, Emek Avodah, by E. Amiran and A. Wolf was written only in 1933). The typical rhythm of the horah melodies is based on the syncope: with the initial eighth note sometimes substituted by a rest in 2/4 or 4/4 measure, counterpointed by the six-beat sequence of the steps. Melodically, the ḥasidic niggun was the most important primary source, which soon became overlaid by other thematic elements.


A.Z. Idelsohn, Sefer ha-Shirim (19222); idem, Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies, 9 (1932), no. 510; S. Rosowsky (ed.), Mi-Zimrat ha-Areẓ (1929); J. Schoenberg (ed.), Shirei Ereẓ Yisrael (1935, repr. 1937), 185–205 and passim; G. Kadman (Kaufmann), Horah Aggadati (1946); idem, Am Roked (1969); idem and T. Hodes (eds.), 10 Israeli Folk Dances (1959), 4–5 (with dance instructions); S. Shapira (ed.), Mi-Shirei ha-Aliyyah ha-Rishonah (1948); S. Kaplan (ed.), 30 Shirim ve-Niggunim le-Yovel ha-Aliyyah ha-Sheniyyah (1954); idem, Shirei ha-Aliyyah ha-Shelishit (1960); Z. Friedhaber, in: Yeda Am, 6 (1960), 25–27.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.