“Leyner Dermonen zikh Lider” (“Readers Recall Songs”) is a recurrent feature in the Yiddish Forward. Yosef Rosenblum, a concentration camp survivor who now lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, recently wrote a column about the following song. He asked readers whether they recalled hearing it; if so, where, and if they knew who the author might be. This transliteration is by Goldie A. Gold, the English version by Gus Tyler.
Mayn Yidishe Mame
Ven got vil bentshn ayedn mentshn
Shenkt er im oyf lange yorn zayn mame,
Er darf zi neytik, in yedn veytik
Felt zi im oys mit ir tsertlekhkeyt.
Ven got vil eynem makhn faln
Broykht er im tsunemen zayn mame.
Dan helft keyn gelt nisht
Es iz shoyn keyn velt nisht.
Dan filt a kind oyf yeder vayl
Yederns mame laydt on a shir
Nor fun ale mames ver laydt mer?
A yidishe mame, ver ken opshatsn ir vert
A yidishe mame, tsu laydn iz ir shoyn bashert.
Zi vet ir lebn gebn, abi ire kinder es zol zey gut zayn
Zey makhn lakhn afile ven zi laydt mer fun zey.
A yidishe mame, keyn gutn tog hot zi dokh nit
A yidishe mame veynt nit mit trern nor mit blut.
Dokh iz nishto keyn sheners un keyn besers
Nishto keyn fayners us keyn gresers,
Vi tsu hobn a yidishe mamenyu.
Zits ikh ober aleyn un ken nisht farshteyn
Oyb di mame bay felker iz tayer,
To nemt a daytsh vi gemeyn, vos hot a mame aleyn
Farbrent mir mayn mame in fayer.
Ot zey ikh ir shabes, ot zey ikh ir yontef.
Un ot iz zi vi a malke baym seder
To her zikh, mayn mame, gut tsu
Du veyst gants gut az ikh hob nisht keyn ru,
Gleyb mir, mame, zise neshome,
Az groys vet far dir zayn mayn nekome.
My Jewish Mother
When God does wish that one be blessed
He sends a mom whose loving breast
Will feed the child when he does thirst.
Without his mama, he feels cursed.
When God wants one to feel forlorn
The child is from the mama torn.
Not even money then can help,
The child can only weep and yelp.
To every child this fact is plain
That mothers weep and weep again
But which does feel the deepest pain?
A yidishe mame, who can measure her worth
To a yidishe mame, life isn’t mirth
She’d give up her life to save her dear child
No matter the time, she’s gentle and mild.
A yidishe mame, whose days turn to mud
A yidishe mame, whose tears turn to blood
There’s naught in the world that her equal can be
There’s nothing that’s kinder and finer than she.
Now here I’m alone and I really don’t know
If in every country they see mothers so
That German, ‘bout mothers, he should feel the same.
Yet he my dear mother extinguished with flame.
And yet I do see her each Saturday night
And Pesach she’s there like a bright shining light
I feel I’m a soul being put to a test
I swear to you, Mama, I never will rest
I say to you, Mama, we’ll soon see the day
When those bloody beasts for their crimes they will pay.