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Hava Nagila started out as a wordless prayer long ago in the Ukraine. As it migrated to Israel, the song picked up lyrics and steam and crossed over into popular culture in the United States.

A new documentary film about the history of the song, titled “Hava Nagila,” will have its premiere showing opening night of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival at the Castro Theatre.

The 32nd  San Francisco Jewish Film Festival runs July 19th through August 6th in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, San Rafael, and Palo Alto. Along with feature-length films, documentaries and shorts, there will be special musical events, an award presentation to Elliot Gould, and a number of Q & A sessions with writers and directors after the screenings of their movies.

SFJFF has some special pricing for those under 30 years old and even special-er pricing for those 25 and under. Check the website for details.

Ben Lee will be there with Ione Skye to talk about the movie “Ben Lee-Catch My Disease.”

The Russian film “My Dad is Baryshnikov” is totally charming…kinda like “Billie Elliot” but not quite…

And Judy Blume will be at the festival with her son who wrote the screenplay for the only Judy Blume book that’s been made into a big screen movie: “Tiger Eyes.”

Lexi Leban is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. She talks about some of the films in the festival and the process of finding the films that are featured.


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