This is an adaptation of the introduction to a recent Yiddish Brief, the free newsletter sent out by our Yiddish editor. Sign up here to get the Yiddish Brief delivered to your inbox.
Thanksgiving Day at my parents’ house, or danktog as we called it, was celebrated pretty much the same way most Americans do, except that the meal was kosher and it was all in Yiddish. We had indik (turkey) with filekhts (stuffing) and zhurekhline-sos (cranberry sauce). Interestingly, the word indik appears in a number of Yiddish expressions, as I explain in this Thanksgiving clip of our YouTube series, Yiddish Word of the Day:
Ever year, during the Thanksgiving feast, my mother, who was a child of immigrants from Ukraine, would give a short speech about how lucky we were to live in a free country like America, and we kids would roll our eyes and giggle, whispering: “How cor-ny!” to each other.
(Today, her words don’t sound corny to me at all.)
Although I don’t know of any Yiddish songs written specifically about the holiday, there’s a lovely song that expresses thanks for the harvest. Written and composed by Mark Warshawsky (pronounced Varshavsky), author of the classic, “Afn Pripetshik,” it’s called “Dos lid fun dem broyt” (“The Song of Bread”). If you’re looking for a Yiddish song to sing at your Thanksgiving table, you might consider teaching this one to your guests, or at least playing this recording, where Yiddish singers Susan Goldberg and Peter Schlosser perform it, accompanied on the piano by Folksbiene director Zalmen Mlotek.
Below are three of the verses with their translations; you can find all the verses here.
Groyser got, mir zingen lider, undzer hilf bistu aleyn!
Nemt tsunoyf di snopes, brider, biz di zun vet untergeyn.
(God Almighty, we sing songs to you because you are our only help!
Gather the sheaves, brothers, until the sun sets.)
Groyser got, du helfst dem mentshn ven er ruft tsu dir in noyt,
Zolst undz vayter take bentshn mit hatslokhe un mit broyt.
(God Almighty, you help people when they call out to you,
May you continue to bless us with success and with bread.)
Lozn undzere kinder visn fun a lebn oyf der velt,
Az dos broyt un yeder bisn iz fun undzer eygn feld.
(Let our children learn a way of life in this world
Where bread and everything we eat is produced in our own fields.)
The post This Yiddish song expressing thanks for the harvest is perfect for Thanksgiving appeared first on The Forward.