The Arty Semite

A Classy Yiddish Writer Sings 'Oy Vey Mame'

By Ezra Glinter

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Ita Taub in the Gottesman’s Sukke in the Bronx, 1990s.

In this week’s Yiddish Song of the Week blog, Forverts managing editor Itzik Gottesman writes about Yiddish writer Ita Taub and “Oy Vey Mame” a song she remembered from her shtetl.

Ita (or Eta) Taub (1908 – 2003) was born in the Ukrainian town of Stidenitse on the Dniester river. She immigrated to Montreal and then New York. She published two volumes of autobiography in Yiddish, “Ikh gedenk” (“I Remember”), with one volume appearing posthumously. She also wrote a volume of poetry, “In klem fun benkshaft” (“In the Fetters of Longing,” Jerusalem, 1993) and published the Yiddish love poetry and love letters sent to her by an admirer (“Libe briv un lider” by Itzik Freiman).

She was well known for her philanthropic generosity and financially supported numerous Yiddish causes, especially those connected to Soviet Yiddish literature. She was a classy lady, as they say, with a huge apartment on 106th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. By the time I recorded her, her voice was clearly not very powerful, but she still could sing an unaccompanied Yiddish folksong in a compelling way.

Read the whole post and listen to Ita Taub sing “Oy Vey Mame” here.


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