Back in the early/mid 1970s, I, like every good American Jew, did Israeli folk dancing. Our family was very serious about it, so much so that we’d usually attend the annual get-t0gethers in San Luis Obispo at which the top Israeli choreographers would introduce their new dances for the year.
At one of the annual events, a choreographer introduced a new dance called “Li Lach.” I loved it because it was a bright, energetic dance that periodically broke out into a polka. I am a big fan of polkas and waltzes and, back in the day, could do them pretty darn well. Li Lach was also fun because the chorus was the word “why” repeated over and over again, which meant that the dancers would swing joyously around the dance floor, polkaing and hollering out “why, why, why!” at the top of their lungs.
Fast forward forty-odd years: I’ve made a playlist on Spotify that has hundreds of my favorite songs (many of which I share here on “just because music” posts). These songs span decades, genres, and countries. After I added Bashana Haba’ah to my playlist, it occurred to me to search out Li Lach. I couldn’t find it on Spotify, so I turned to YouTube.
Sure enough, there on YouTube was the song Li Lach. Unfortunately, it’s not a straight out recording but is, instead, the background music part for a video showing amateur Israeli folk dancers in a big gym. (If anyone can find a straight recording, I’d sure appreciate that.) For some reason, too, the recording is speeded up, so it makes the whole thing sound like an Alvin and the Chipmunks version of the song.
Despite its failings, I found the video fascinating for two reasons. First, the choreography hasn’t changed in forty years. And second, it’s a Chinese group doing the dancing. That made me laugh until, with perfect timing, I read in PJ Media that the Chinese are fascinated (in a good way) by Jews and Judaism . . . so maybe it’s not so funny after all:
Over the past couple of decades the Chinese have become more interested in the Jews. Of late the Chinese regime has been bringing Jewish scholars and theologians to the People’s Republic to discuss Torah, Talmud, Mishnah and even some of the more mystical tracts.
Read Michael Ledeen’s whole post to see his intriguing theory about this new love affair.