Debka Chaim

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Hebrew: דבקה חיים . Circle dance by Moshe Eskayo.


Debka Chaim was created in 1979 in memory of Chaim Gazuli (or Gozali), who danced with Eskayo and Shlomo Bachar and who was killed in an accident in South Africa. Eskayo remembers him as a "beautiful debka dancer". He promised Gazuli's wife that he would choreograph a dance for him; she plays the music in his memory.

The dance has six parts, but the second time through, the fifth part is omitted and the fourth part is danced four times rather than twice. The final part contains clapping, but in the second repetition two of the claps are omitted to represent the silence of death.

Remarkably, and perhaps uniquely, this dance is performed to three different pieces of music:

  • Originally, the dance was done to an Arabic tune called "Raqsat Al-Manadil" (رقصة المناديل, Dance of the Handkerchief) composed by the Rahbani brothers and performed with Fairuz, wife of Assi Rahbani. According to Moshe, people didn't like this music because it was too Arabic.
  • Shlomo Shai later composed music specifically for this dance. Moshe was never completely happy with this version, by his own assertion.
  • Dani Weinstock later showed Moshe the song "Oz V'Hadar" (עז והדר, Strength and Dignity) a traditional Breslov tune whose words are from Eshet Chayil in Proverbs 31, arranged and performed by Soulfarm.

Debka Chaim was taught at the first Hora Shalom in 1981, using Shlomo Shai's music, and only later was Raqsat Al-Manadil played as an alternative. For this reason the latter is sometimes known as Debka Chaim #2, even though this is chronologically incorrect and in any case it's the music, not the dance, that's different. (Oz V'Hadar is sometimes called Debka Chaim #3.)

Styling point: Moshe invariably insisted that the dance is to be done without any "schmeering", in particular the last section of the odd-numbered parts.


Debka Chaim at (this entry refers to Shlomo Shai's music)
Video at Rokdim, also with Shlomo Shai's music