The best part of being a writer is getting to spend time researching things I'm obsessed with under the guise of "work." Mostly this has meant writing articles about Judaism and hip hop. But sometimes I get to get to research my first and truest love -- gymnastics.
Fortunately for me, my editor at JTA has been indulgent of my crazy ideas and actually let me write an article about the use of Hava Nagila in floor routines since Aly Raisman, who is Jewish, just started using the music in her exercise. I spoke to Aly on the phone after a Friday afternoon practice and she was unfailingly gracious and humble. I'll be rooting for her at Nationals this weekend.
I also interviewed Professor James Loeffler, who has written about the origins of Hava Nagila. He was kind enough to watch the routines I sent him before we spoke and was therefore able to comment very intelligently on Hava as it relates to gymnastics.
Here is the article, which is now up on JTA. And wait -- there's more! An annotated video slideshow.
Sometimes my life is awesome.