Can Anyone Help with the Words to a Yiddish or Russian Finger Game?

Ruth Cooper wrote to us asking for help with a Yiddish or Russian rhyme that’s a finger game.  Here’s her email:

The finger game I am trying to track down has motions that go with it.

The words (from close to 80 years ago) were something like:

Pippa kasa varele,

nafshe studge

???  hetimedalia

It’s probably either Russian or Yiddish.  I once asked someone Russian, who had no idea (but also did not recognize the finger motions).  I’m sure I’m mis-remembering the exact pronunciation.

If anyone can help Ruth, please comment below.

Thanks in advance!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Sunday, April 10th, 2016 at 5:42 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Finger Plays, Israel, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Russia, Russian, Yiddish. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with the Words to a Yiddish or Russian Finger Game?”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Ruth wrote:

    Success, I think! You posted “Looking for a Russian Child’s Finger Play” on May 19, 2008. A number of people responded, over several years. Someone named Irina gave the text, including “kashku varila,” which is very likely what I remember hearing as “kasa varela.” Others included “etomu dala” and “tema dallah,” which very likely is what I recall as “hetemedalia.” As for the “pippa” beginning, someone else says it starts with “pripatchik.” I am now 80 years old, and I heard my grandmother doing it with my brother in 1949, and we know (from correspondence with relatives) that by then her Russian was heavily modified by a lifetime in the United States. Given her pronunciation and my memory, I’m certain that this is the answer. It’s gratifying to know that I did not simply spout nonsense syllables to my own grandchildren. Thank you for providing a forum for topics like this. Ruth Cooper

  2. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for writing Ruth! We have that rhyme here too with a recording.

  3. marsha weiss Says:

    My grandmother did this and I remember it vividly. She would open my hand and sort of “spi(not really) in my palm and make circles and say (please excuse spelling) saruka vanishka pripistik tzanavila………..hetemeudela,(touching each finger) and the last finger was the pinky……….melenka munishka and then say tutpiet tutkalovichk as she tickled…………….it is a wonderful memory of my beloved grandmother.

  4. Fran Rodgers Kohn Says:

    My Russian grandmother did the same actions but i remember these words and these are the words I sang to my children and now to my grandchildren

    Pipa kasa
    Navarilla
    Atrapechik tanavilla
    Et a mudella
    Et a mudella
    Hi-chik
    Pi-chik
    Ay-chik
    Koochie koochie koo!

    So excited to share this memory with others!

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