The Arty Semite

American Cradle

By Itzik Gottesman

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On the Yiddish Song of the Week blog, Forverts associate editor Itzik Gottesman writes about “Mayn shifl” (“My Cradle”) by poet Leah Kapilowitz Hofman, as sung by Nitsa Ranz:

Nitsa Ranz was born in Poland in 1922 and emigrated to America in 1950. Mayn shifl (My Cradle) was recorded at an event that I produced called Generations of Yiddish Song: A Concert of Mostly Unaccompanied Rarely Heard Yiddish Songs at the club Tonic on New York City’s Lower East Side on January 9th, 2001.

The other singers that day were Michael Alpert, Janet Leuchter, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, Paula Teitelbuam, Joshua Waletzky, and Jeff Warschauer. Ranz had a unique singing style, and though the song turned out to be American in origin, as I later found out when I discovered the song sheet (see below), she sings with much of the traditional style in her voice.

The poet of the song, Leah Kapilowitz Hofman (1898 – 1952), was a pioneer of Yiddish children’s poetry in the U.S. Mayn shifl can be found in her collection In kinderland, published in 1919 in New York. The song’s music was set by composer Pinchos Jassinowsky (1886-1954), who wrote the music to several well-known Yiddish songs including Der kremer (words by A. Liessin).

Read the whole post and listen to the song here


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