Think you know ‘Mayim Mayim’? Think again.
Do you know the song “Mayim Mayim?” Maybe you learned it at Hebrew School, or sleepaway camp. It’s a celebratory Israeli folk classic based on text from the book of Isaiah about, as the title suggests, water. The song’s composer is Emanuel Amiran-Pougatchov, who would go on to be the country’s Minister of Music Education, and in 1937 choreographer Else I. Dublin created the dance still used today.
But other than your summer camp or Israel, the places you’re most likely to hear this song are Japan or Taiwan.
Seriously, everyone in Japan knows “Mayim Mayim.”
How did this happen? It began in the post-WWII occupation of Japan, led by General Douglas MacArthur. As part of the (admittedly somewhat forced) cultural exchange, the United States decided to teach the youth in Asia folk dances. They enlisted the aid of Rickey Holden, a prominent square and folk dance-caller, scholar, and educator.
Holden does not appear to be Jewish, but he did visit Israel to study folk dance. That’s most likely where he learned “Mayim Mayim.” Over the course of 1957 and 1958, he went on a world tour that included Japan and Taipei. It’s not clear if he’s solely responsible for teaching the dance in Japan, but in Taiwan it’s closely associated with him. (In fact, Israeli dance in general is popular in Taiwan, but it was “Mayim Mayim” that started it all.)
There was a burgeoning folk dance movement in Japan starting out of YMCAs, and they eventually spread to labor movements, youth groups, and even Japanese schools (other hits included “Do Your Ears Hang Low?”). While the iconic Israeli dance persists in popularity (in both Japan and Taiwan), the song was inevitably used on its own. The melody became so well known that it was even used in commercials in Japan.
Then, of course, came the time when Japan started exporting culture to the rest of the world—like anime, and video games. And when you need video game music, how about something in the public domain, something catchy and familiar, something short and easy to loop, something like…
Yes, that is “Mayim Mayim” playing in the background of Sexy Parodius, a 1996 semi-erotic shooter arcade game by Konami (the company that brought you everything from Frogger to Metal Gear). And it wasn’t only one game. Another example would be Nintendo’s Game Boy Camera of 1998, which unlike Sexy Parodius, had an international release. So, if you were an American Jewish child in the ’90s playing with your Game Boy, and you could have sworn you heard a song you knew, feel vindicated now, almost 20 years later.
And then, of course, in the general way that culture propagates and deteriorates in Internet culture, through its video game visibility, the song eventually became a meme. Its peak was 2008-2009, which brings up the uncomfortable fact that Internet memes are starting to hit ten-year anniversaries. It became a popular choice for remixes, or generic upbeat music in parody videos, particularly Japanese ones. It never made it big in the United States (like, say, the Thomas the Tank Engine theme music), except in particularly geeky circles (you know, the ones where you’re likely to be watching video remixes of games). (You can watch a Western example here, but unless you’re a fan of Team Fortress 2, it might as well be Japanese to you.)
And so, flowing through cultures like the water in the title, “Mayim Mayim” has lived many lives. The song, a Biblically-inspired celebration of pre-state Zionists finding water, has eventually become a sort of shibboleth for nerds on the Internet joking about video games.
If that isn’t a Jewish success story, then what is?
Published in Tablet Magazine
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — which seeks to criminalize criticism of migration — is nothing more or less than a dangerous effort to weaken national borders, to normalize mass migration, to blur the line between legal and illegal immigration, and to bolster the idea that people claiming to be refugees enjoy a panoply of rights in countries where they have never before set foot.
One thing about the agreement, in any event, is irrefutable: almost nobody in the Western world has been clamoring for this. It is, quite simply, a project of the globalist elites. It is a UN power-grab.
The waterfront in the Chilean city of Valdivia. Photo: Arvid Puschnig via Wikimedia Commons.
Top Jewish groups have welcomed a Chilean government decision made earlier this week to ban municipalities across the country from boycotting Israel.
The ruling — issued by the Comptroller General of Chile – stemmed from a complaint filed by the Chilean Jewish community over a move of the Valdivia municipality to ban the city from signing contracts with Israel-linked companies.
New immigrants to Israel arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Aug. 17, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Baz Ratner.
A top Israeli minister called on the government on Sunday to craft a “comprehensive plan” to encourage the aliyah of French Jews.
In Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett’s view, there has been a “historic missed opportunity” in recent years to bring more French Jews to Israel as immigrants.
“There are 200,000 French Jews who want to come here, and the state bureaucracies simply aren’t prepared for it,” Bennett, who also serves as education minister and head of the right-wing HaBayit HaYehudi party, claimed at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “These are ethical people, Zionists, lovers of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, and it is our moral obligation to help them.”
Israel has started uncovering and destroying Hezbollah’s attack tunnels under the Lebanese border, but destroying the group’s ambitious precision missile project will be much more difficult.
The Israel Defense Forces placed a camera into Hezbollah’s secret cross-border attack tunnel before sunrise on Dec. 4. They pushed it into the Lebanese side, under the Blue Line that separates the two countries. At dawn, two Hezbollah operatives reached the spot on their morning rounds. In the video disseminated by the IDF on Tuesday evening, one of the operatives is seen approaching the camera with suspicion. He stuck his nose in its direction and started to sniff around until something exploded in his face and he ran back the way he’d comVisibilitye.
The timing of Operation Northern Shield, to destroy Hezbollah tunnels leading from Lebanon into Israel, suggests that considerations other than security were behind the decision to launch it.
An Israeli commando from Yahalom, an engineering unit, takes part in a tunnel-hunting drill near Tel Aviv, March 7, 2012.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Likud activists on Dec. 2 that was both defensive and combative toward law enforcement authorities. He complained about the supposedly suspicious timing of the police announcement recommending his indictment for taking bribes in Case 4000, coming as it did one day before Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh concluded his term in office.
This week, for the first time, Israel made public its discovery of the tunnel constructed by Hezbollah and reaching into Israel’s sovereign territory. This brought to an end a long period during which a large number of Israelis living in communities adjacent to the Lebanese border reported hearing sounds of digging as well as feeling tremors in the walls of their homes.
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We could have done without their statements.
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On Sunday evening, December 2, the people of Sderot, Israel – a town located a mere kilometer from the Gaza border – gathered to light the first candle of the town’s menorah to commemorate the first day of Hanukkah. Jews around the world celebrate this holiday, which marks the time some two millennia ago when the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Second Temple.
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This is obviously a short-lived honeymoon that will end the day after the UN General Assembly vote on the anti-Hamas resolution. The morning after the vote, Abbas will wake up to the realization that Hamas was a strange bedfellow indeed.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hatred of Hamas is far from secret. But Abbas is now defending Hamas because he despises the Trump administration, which has sponsored a UN draft resolution that condemns Hamas. Pictured: Abbas (right) meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on May 30, 2007 in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Abu Askar/PPO via Getty Images)