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As in all other ancient cultures, dance in Judaism reaches back to earliest recorded times. It is associated with personal, communal, and historical occasions, often of a religious nature. Invariably it was accompanied by instrumental music. Miriam and other women performed a victory dance after crossing of the Red Sea, and other women celebrated this way. Jewish dances are mainly folk dances, performed in a group, often in a circle rather than a solo performance, and most often by women.

With the birth of Hasidism (18th century), a new cultural phenomenon emerges: men dancing together, without women, mostly in a circle but also in pair or line formations. In fact, the Hasidim consider dance a form of expressing love and devotion to God.

Zionism seems to have borrowed the Hasidic dancing fervor in creating its own circle dance, the horah, and in borrowing folk dances from other cultures such as Russian, Polish, Romanian, and Middle Eastern (notably Yemenite). Dancing helped the early pioneers in Palestine overcome hardship and forged a group spirit.

Dance today has become an important aspect of Israeli culture, and there are Israeli folk dance groups there and around the world. Jews in general have incorporated dancing into all special life occasions, notably Bar Mitzvahs and weddings, and dancing has become a communal experience in all Jewish groups and communities.

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