Mama Lisa's World
International Music & Culture
Kid Songs and Rhymes of
Israel

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About the Yiddish Language

Yiddish is the language of the Ashkenazic Jews (those who at one time lived or had ancestors who lived in eastern and central Europe). It is a Germanic language, written in Hebrew characters. Before the Holocaust, it was spoken by approximately 10 million people. Today, it is spoken by approximately 4 million, mostly in the United States, Israel, Canada, France, Argentina, Mexico and Romania.

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Here are some of Mama Lisa's recent posts about the music, culture and traditions of Israel:
  • Debra wrote asking for help with a Yiddish rhyme: The following has been passed down through the ages (at least 150 years) by my mothers family, though we can only guess what the words mean now or the correct spelling of the words. I am hoping you may recognize it or be able to decipher it... Read more »
  • Jeff wrote asking for help with a Yiddish song.  Here’s his email: Hi, I grew up reciting a Yiddish rhyme or song where we pinched the skin on the back of each others hands and bobbed them up and down while saying something like (and I’m just writing what it sounded like): "Sipicle sipicle amadal, kimsimir and kamadal,... Read more »
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    When my son was born, my husband’s grandmother asked if she could tie a red ribbon to the bottom of his crib.  This was to ward off the "evil eye" and keep away bad luck. Some people wear a red string or bracelet on their left hand to ward off the "evil eye" too.  The red... Read more »
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    Open Culture has a page of free language learning links covering 40 languages. Here are some of the languages you can find links for… Arabic, English, Chinese, French, Spanish, Bulgarian, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Finnish, Gaelic, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Lithuanian, Luxembourgish, Maori, Norwegian, Portuguese, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Swahili,... Read more »
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    Jewish children play the dreidel game for Hanukkah. Dreidels are tops with four Hebrew letters on them - one each side of the dreidel. The letters are nun, gimel, hay, and shin. Legend has it that dreidels originated from a time when the Jewish people were forbidden to practice their religion.  The game was invented... Read more »
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    What a great idea to make candy dreidels for Hanukkah!  They’re dreidels made out of marshmallows, with candy kisses attached using Nutella as "glue". Then dipped in chocolate with a mini pretzel stick as the handle.  Check out the recipe at The Shiksa in the Kitchen Blog. Many thanks to Corrine Lewack for pointing out... Read more »
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    Latkes (potato pancakes) are the food of choice for Hanukkah.  That’s because they’re typically cooked in oil and oil is an important symbol for Hanukkah.  The problem is that cooking latkes in all that oil is very unhealthy.  It’s also time consuming to deep-fry them individually.  This year I was determined to come up... Read more »
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    Hanukkah is coming soon. Here are links to some Hanukkah songs, videos, recipes and gift ideas we’ve posted in the past… Happy Chanukah! Mama Lisa Original Photo: Wikipedia (edited by Mama Lisa) Read more »
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    Librivox just released another bunch of recordings of fairy tales in various languages, including Hungarian, Russian, German, English, Italian and Portuguese (with links to the text of each tale). This is the 3rd collection they’ve posted. Fairy Tale Collection #1 also includes recordings in Latvian, Danish, Romanian, Yiddish and French. You can also... Read more »
  • Go Down Moses and Dayenu are well-known Passover Songs. Go Down Moses has its origins in an African American spiritual from the time of slavery. What’s interesting is that the slaves chose the story of Passover to express their situation. Now Jewish people sing it for Passover. Here’s a Passover version of Go Down Moses… Dayenu... Read more »

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