Response to Questionaire from a 6th-Grade Student

On 24 Nov, 2013, I received a questionnaire from a non-Jewish 6th-grade student who was writing a report about folk dance. Some of her questions were interesting, so I'm sharing the questions and my answers.

1. How does dance impact your culture?

Dance has many roles for Israeli and non-Israeli Jews:

(a) As for other cultures, dance is of course about creating something that is simultaneously beautiful, enjoyable, and social.

(b) For the Hassidim, and to a lesser extent for other religious Jews, dance has a religious component. The Hassidim view dance as a form of prayer. Many of the dances have religious themes. For example, the words of Tsadik Katamar come directly from Psalm 92: "The righteous man (and woman) shall flourish like the palm (tree). He shall thrive (grow tall) like a cedar in Lebanon. Rooted in the house of the Lord. In the courtyards of our G-d. They shall bring forth fruit in our old age. they'll be ever fresh and green, Proclaiming that the Lord is just, my Rock, in whom there is no wrong."

(c) Some dances have a strong nationalistic component. "Eretz, Eretz" is a prime example. For the lyrics, go to

2. How did a certain dance become such a worldwide appeal?

I'm going to interpret this question as "How did Israeli dance acquire such a worldwide appeal?" This is a hard question. The extent to which non-Jews are attracted to Israeli folk dance sometimes surprises me. Part of the answer may have to do with the tremendous variety of styles. I believe that the music also speaks to people.

3. How has dance affected you and your country?

Israeli dance has a special place in my heart. Beyond this, I'm not sure how to answer.

5. How does dance express how we feel? Do you even think it shows a feeling?

Dance most definitely expresses feelings.

6. Do you think dance is more impactful in some countries than others? Why or why not?

In much of western Europe, folk dance traditions are dying out. Often, these dances are done almost exclusively by professional performers, which raises the question of whether they can still be considered folk dances. In my view, this is very unfortunate. Folk dance seems to be doing better in eastern Europe; Romania is a fine example.

Good luck with your project!