The roots of Jewish dance go back to the Jewish religion. Among men and women dancing was one of the main forms of praise and celebrating in the Jewish faith, which can be observed in the Bible. Frequently it describes dance as a form of worship. For example Miriam danced together with other women, David danced before the Ark of Covenant when he was bringing it to Jerusalem. Jews expressed joy with dance, especially when God delivered them from the hands of their enemies. Dancing is also present during the Jewish feasts, especially the First Fruits (Hag ha – bikkurim), Feast of Tabernacles (Hag ha – Asif), Simchat Torah (Rejoicing with the Torah) and during the Shabath. God commanded His people to rejoice during the feasts. He said: “Rejoice before the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 16,11) so the Israelites obeying God’s command – rejoice and celebrate before Him. They express this joy with dancing.
For the Jews rejoicing and celebrating means the same as dancing. In Aramaic language, which was used by Jews in Jesus’ times, the words “rejoice” and “dance” are the same words. In Hebrew we find eleven words describing dance or some kind of dancing moves: to spin, to rotate, to jump and so on, but the main word describing dance is “hagag” – which means dancing in a circle. These are the majority of Jewish dances – dances in a circle – the symbol of unity, equality, fellowship and integration. From the beginning the dance was used only as a form of praising God, later on it entered into the culture.
Among the Hasidim dance is considered a way of connecting with God, a form of prayer in move – as the Old Testament teaches. Hasidim say that “Those who dance – are praying twice.” Jewish and Israeli dances are very diverse in their forms and themes. Some are very simple dances in circle like Mime – reflecting religious experience or speaking about everyday life and ancient traditions like War Dance or Wedding Dance. Other dances contain choreographies that appeared in modern times and are still created nowadays.