Can Someone Help with a Russian or Yiddish Rhyme with the Word “Meesala” or “Misala” In It?

Sharon wrote:

Hi,

I am hoping that someone out there remembers an old game that mothers, grandmothers, aunts and friends used to play with little ones. I think the rhyme is either Russian or Yiddish.

The baby’s hand is held palm up and the mother points her finger into the middle of the child’s hand and says, Meesala, Misala, or something like that, while making circles in the child’s palm. As the poem is repeated, the fingers march up the child’s arm and then tickle the back of the neck.

I remember the action and the feeling, but not the poem.

Help! I want to play this with my grandchildren, and my Grandmother played this with me almost 70 years ago.

Any help would be appreciated.

Best,

Sharon

If anyone knows about this rhyme, please comment below or email me.

Thanks!

-Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2007 at 6:03 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Finger Plays, Israel, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Readers Questions, Russia, Russian, Russian Children's Songs, USA, Yiddish, Yiddish Children's Songs. 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.

70 Responses to “Can Someone Help with a Russian or Yiddish Rhyme with the Word “Meesala” or “Misala” In It?”

  1. Leslie Says:

    In my family we did this game while saying:

    meezhele
    mahzhele
    cutchy-cutchy-coo (or cutch-cutch-cutch)

    (the zh is my attempt at representing the sound between z and j)

    I hope this is helpful!

    Leslie

  2. Monique Says:

    Would this “zh” sound like the “s” in “pleasure” “leisure”?

  3. Cathy K Says:

    My grandmother used to do this with me and my children:

    Tsora kavrana ditjem kashka navarilla,
    (This is said while the adult uses her/his pointer finger to tap on the palm of the child.)

    Tsmudala, Tsmudala, Tsmudala, Tsmudala, Tsumdala
    (While saying this, the adult folds each of the child’s fingers down one-by-one into the child’s palm.)

    Meezhele, Mahzhele, Meezhele, Mahzele,
    (The adult runs his/her fingers lightly up the child’s arm)

    Tseep, tseep, tseep, tseep, tseep!
    (The adult tickles the ribs or neck of the child.)

  4. teri Says:

    I am also looking for this rhyme- My mother always did this with the Grandchildren- She died in an unfortunate accident and I never got to ask her the exact words- i know it is meesal misala and then i remember the third word began with an L- please let me know if anyone gets any more of the words- i want to continue my mom’s tradition.
    teri

  5. Victor Belyaev Says:

    The Text is (try to express in Latin letters):
    Kurochka Ryaba detyam kashu navarila
    Meshala, meshala, meshala, meshala
    Etomu dala, etomu dala, etomu dala, etomu dala,
    A etomu nye dala
    Tseep, tseep, tseep, tseep…

  6. L.C. Says:

    I’m looking for a Yiddish game my Great Grandmother used to sing to us. You hold your hand out, and the adult points to each finger as the song is sung. When the song stops, which ever finger she points to, that finger is ‘out’ / eliminated.

    sounds like…

    Ant litcky pant litcky
    Chair vana stall litcky
    Yed nasha chair vala
    Adrew ga pumps

    anyone know the real text?

  7. Victor Belyaev Says:

    Hello,
    Another words for this are:
    Soroka-Khozyaika kashu varila,
    dyetok kormila,
    Meshala, meshala, meshala, meshala,
    Etomu dala, etomu dala, etomu dala, etomu dala,
    A etomu nye dala,
    Tseep, tseep, tseep, tseep…

    The Russian words are:
    Сорока-Хоз?йка кашу варила,
    деток кормила,
    Мешала, мешала, мешала, мешала,
    Этому дала, ?тому дала, ?тому дала, ?тому дала,
    ? ?тому не дала,
    Цып, цып, цып, цып…

  8. Monique Says:

    You can find a version of this game on Mama Lisa’s World http://www.mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=1042&c=157

  9. Duchess Nukem Says:

    Hey guys you are mixing something up. Kurochka Ryaba (Little Speckled Hen) NEVER cooked porrige (kasha). She is a character from an old Russian tale about a Golden Egg but not a Nursery Rhyme. Kasha in Nursery Rhymes is always cooked by the Magpie-the Crow (Soroka-Vorona), and this is her copyright! The old original version of this very Rhyme is

    Soroka-Vorona
    Kashu varila
    Na porog stanovila
    Detok kormila.
    Etomu dala, Etomu dala, Etomu dala,
    A etomu ne dala:
    Ty drov ne rubil,
    Ty pech’ ne topil,
    Ty vodu ne nosil – Kysh za vodoi!
    (and he started to run for water:)
    Tut pen’, tut koloda,
    Tut moh, tut boloto,
    A tut kluchiki-kluchiki, teplaya vodichka
    (here you may tickle ander the kid’s arm)

    THE END

    And no tseep-Tseep, tseep, tseep, never!
    (и никаких цып-цып-цып в ?ороке вороне никогда не было, ? какого дуба вы упали, так цыпл?т зовут, а не ворон?т или ?орочат, их вообще никак не зовут, они дикие)

    By the way does “mezhele” mean the word “meshala” ((she)was stirring) ?

    PS: If anybody knows where one may get the originals of Scotch Nursery Rhymes (except Wee Willie Wincky) please mail me a link!!!

  10. Chelley Shaner Gutin Says:

    SERENKA VERINKA

    Children’s finger game (Russian/Yiddish?)

    This came from Jennie Perlmutter, our grandmother, who lived in Zitomer, Beylarus and also in the Ukraine.

    First you take the youngster’s open hand and pretend you are spitting in it by moving the palm close to your face and making a P-P-P- P sound.

    Then, holding the hand by the wrist, palm up, lightly poke the center of the palm with your index finger as you chant:

    Serenka verinka
    Ditum-kahsh naver-reela

    Then, starting with the pinky, take each finger one at a time, and lightly fold it into the child’s palm — eventually, closing the hand. Repeat this word with each finger:

    Tah-mood-eh-lah
    Tah-mood-eh-lah
    Tah-mood-eh-lah
    Tah-mood-eh-lah
    Tah – mood – eh – lah !!

    Now that the hand is closed, you hold on to the child’s wrist and begin to do a” finger walk” slowly up the inner arm — toward the armpit, building anticipation as you go, chanting:

    Meazelah-meyezilla,
    Meazelah-meyezilla,
    Meazelah-meyezilla,
    Meazelah-meyezilla,

    and finally, tickling the child:

    Kitz – Kizt – Kitz – Kitz

  11. noreen horwitz Says:

    My mom told me a verse that meant something about a little mouse that ran around in a house & ate a little bit of rice, then ran up the child’s arm:

    Meazelah meyezilla (little mouse)
    Gayah round en houszalah (go around in the house
    nemin shickel risala (eat a bit of rice)
    Kitzi – Kitzi – Coo

    You took the baby’s hand and used your finger to go in a circle in the palm while reciting the verse, then ran up his arm to tickle him.

  12. Chaim Katzenellenbogen Says:

    There is a word in Yiddish maysele. The ay is pronouced like an “i” sound. Maysele means story. I am sorry but, I am not familiar with the song or story you are referring to.

  13. Elaine Hyman Says:

    Tu Tu Tu
    Ba Ba Shu
    Esa mesala
    ___ ___ ___

  14. Elaine Hyman Says:

    This is what I recall—a hand or foot tickling game that Buba did.

    Temadala temadala temadala temadala temadala (while touching each of my toes in succession)
    tu tu tu (tapping on the foot sole)
    ba ba shu (tapping some more)
    esala mesala
    ___ ___ ___ ! (some words said in a high voice, while tickeling)

  15. shimke (stanley) levine Says:

    For Noreen’s song: Meazelah meyezilla (little mouse)
    Gayah round en houszalah (go around in the house
    nemin shickel risala (eat a bit of rice)
    Kitzi – Kitzi – Coo — it sounds like the words must have been:
    meyzele mayzele
    gey arum in hayzele
    nem a shtikl rayzele
    (ay is pronounced like the word I. So all the rhyme sounds are pron. high-eh-leh with the accent on the first syllable.), meaning little mouse (2x), run around in the house, take a bit of rice. The poem sounds like it is addressed to the little mouse (the child?) and the verbs are all imperatives (telling the mouse to run and to eat rice). Unless the words were geyt and nemt which would mean it is talking about the mouse not to it.

  16. Debbie van Baalen Says:

    This post reminded me of my grandmother who was from the Ukraine. She used to do the same actions as described here – but the rhyme was in English! It went like this:
    Round and round the garden like a teddy bear
    Hop, 2, 3, 4, tickely under there.
    She did a circling action in the palm of my hand with the fist line and on the second crept up my arm with her fingers and tickled my armpit – always made me laugh! I used to do this with my sons and they absolutely loved it as well.

  17. R~ Says:

    My Mom-Mom, also from Ukraine, sung this to my sister and I.
    She used to pretend to spit in my palm, then sang

    Baba Kashka
    Nava Reala
    Napri Pretchka Posklavelia
    Shishgim Geekkem Nava Reala

    Tema-Dolla
    Tema-Dolla
    Tema-Dolla

    And then tickled us.

    She told me that this was a old nursery tale about a grandmother who was feeding her grandkids pourage, cooking the pourage, tema-dolla means “and for you, and for you”

  18. Alisha Says:

    My Russian great-grandfather also used to do a nursery rhyme where he pretended to spit in our palm and then circled his finger in the palm. It ended with meezalah maazala and ticking up the arm to the child’s chin, but it started with words something like “Sulka wahna.” any ideas?

  19. Michele Says:

    My grandmother used to play this, and I remember it going something like this:
    (pretend to spit in open palm)
    Circle palm with finger, saying:
    “Kasha, varilla napripichik starvilla”
    Touch each finger, saying:
    “Tut pan, tut kalutka”
    Run fingers up arm & over head, saying.
    “Tut, tut, tut, tut . . . .

  20. AdamR Says:

    How about one that has the translation of a big table, eating something with fish, then drinking a glass of wine?

  21. Arlene DiFiore Says:

    My Slovak Grandmother would do this version, circling the child’s palm with her index finger, then holding the child’s thumb and each finger, then tickling up the arm to the neck. I don’t remember her spitting in the palm to start. I always kiss the palm of the child when I begin this game. Vareela sounds like “Vadilla.” My spelling is phonetic.

    “Vareela, Vareela, Mama kashichku. “(She cooked, Mama,
    pudding (Kasha).
    “Tomto dala na lozichku.” (To this one she gave on a spoon.)
    “Tomto dala na mistichku.” (To this one she gave on a little dish.)
    “Tomto dala na ryenichku.” (To this one she gave on a little pan.)
    “Tomto dala.” (To this one she gave.)
    “Tomto nedala.” (To this one she gave not.)
    “A tomto keeekala keekala keekala!” (And to this one tickle,
    tickle, tickle!)

  22. Paul Remis, MD Says:

    (“Ahem” as throat clears)

    As many posters before me must have felt, I too was moved to be able to recall my Baba Betty’s game of finger counting when I was four. I can still remember the whole poem and experience with remarkable clarity. That was 61 years ago, when I was a child in another city/country (Winnipeg, Canada), and during another century (20th). (Oh God, really!). Well, it came to me this morning in the shower for no apparent reason and I thought, “I’ll bet the internet will help me recall it and those memories … those precious memories. (fade-out softly,…and pause)

    (Moments pass and then … pulls self back to the present and says)

    … I would like to thank you all who have already put down their version as best recalled. But here let me insert a small qualification regarding the precise accuracy of my version. I think I remember my Baba saying that what she sang might have been her “mis-remembering” the original rhyme. It was thus perhaps two rhymes. She often began with this apology.

    Anyways, here goes ….

    [First, … the all important, ceremonial spit into the center of my palm. I never knew why, nor asked …doh! Probably an act of purification unique to Odessa, Russia. But of course!!]

    Tsoroka varana deet-em kashka navarilla,

    [This is said while my Baba used her pointer finger to tap on my palm.]

    In a pripichik ….. stun-a-villa……….

    [big, long pause with her eyes going from my palm to my neck and back again …. starting my “first stage” squirm and giggle ….]

    [Note: The pause here was crucial and drawn out each time … longer and longer as I grew older and I knew (obviously) what was coming. She would build the tension up to that “dreaded” exciting moment of the race up to my ticklish neck by her quick fingers.]

    Tamudala, Tamudala, Tamudala, Tamudala, Ta-mu-neeee-da-lah !!!

    [This was serious business. While saying this with clear dramatic deliberation, she folded each of my fingers down one-by-one into my palm, and then lastly, pressed my baby finger, with great deliberation and a noteworthy sigh of great satisfaction. I totally believed this marked a really important accomplishment. And that would usually “do it”. I was mesmerized, under her spell, and unable to escape.]

    [I especially remember that last word (different from Cathy K’s text) which to me sounded like “Tamuneeeeedalah”. The emphasis here was on the “neeeeeee” sound in the middle of this, the last word. ]

    [The moment I never forgot …to this day.]

    Meezelah, Mahzhelah, Meezelah, Mahzhelah, Meezelah, Mahzhela, etc…

    [repeated in a vocal crescendo, along with the charge and tickle up to my neck.]

    OK. Back to the present! For any of you who would like to hear me perform a live version, … the charge will be you reciting me yours – first. [Giggles and tears guaranteed!]

    Tsoroka verana deet-em kashka navarilla,
    In a pripichik ….. stun-a-villa ……….
    Tamudala, Tamudala, Tamudala, Tamudala, Ta-mu-neeee-da-lah !!!
    Meezelah, Mahzhelah, Meezelah, Mahzhelah, Meezelah, Mahzhela, etc…

  23. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for sharing Paul! If you’d like to recite it for us… we have a way you can call a number and record it. Just let me know if you’re interested. Cheers! Mama Lisa

  24. Paul Says:

    I’ve never gone public before …. and with my voice, my kids tell me, maybe I shouldn’t. Besides, I’m not sure I could do it without tearing up. I tried to sing it to my wife yesterday and, well, I’m still working on getting through the first line. OK, OK you say. Enough with the excuses. (You all know the inflection of this last line). Thank you for this wonderful website. As they say, Lisa ..”let’s talk”. (grin)

  25. Lisa Says:

    OK! However you feel most comfortable!

  26. Monique Says:

    Paul, maybe you could help us with the translation to Looly-looly-loolenki lullaby? Would you be able to lend us a hand? Thanks!

  27. Phil Green Says:

    My Bubba used to do a version which my Mum and Aunties always did with the kids in Manchester where we lived. It sounded like this (apologies for the phonetics!). It seems to fit with Chelley’s version above:
    Tee Ronnie, Vee Rockie
    Titticashki, navarilli,
    Tee Muzzelly, etc.
    I also recall the mock spitting into the palm of the hand and the P, P, P (which had something to do with a “warding off the evil eye” superstition).

  28. edc Says:

    my Mother’s version goes: chichi chichi saruka, tut-pin tut-hara [long pause] tut-holniyavoda

  29. MariLynn Steiman Says:

    Hi Lisa, I sent you an email about 10 minutes ago(and told you I had not come to your site since I came out of hospital)…..and then came to this page………and read the above….and read PAUL REMIS MD says…..and thought that is a familiar name(but could not place it) and continued reading…and find he comes from my hometown of Winnipeg,Manitoba…….is there an email address for him(or is that private?)I think the Remis family was related to my Aunt Rose Desser (husband Mark Desser…my Mom’s brother)Is it because our roots are the same that we are both remembering Keezela Mazella? I am very new to the computer world; and am finding this all so amazing.

  30. karen Says:

    this was very helpful, I was trying to remember this verse with my grandson and could only remember the end. Reading all of the messages brought back so many good memories of my mother in law playing this with my babies, now she is gone but I will try to carry on the tradition.

  31. Bob Says:

    Thank you for this information. My Polish/Russian Grandfather used to do this to us when we were small and we would all line up for him to do it. I remember laughing in line waiting for my turn. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

  32. Jessica Says:

    I came across this thread while looking for the game my grandpa used to play with us, seemingly another variant. You’d pinch the back of his hand, and he’d pinch yours so your hands were stacked, then move gem up and down. The words sounded like:

    Tseep tsop emerol
    Kimitzmir and kemerol
    A vilde epis visen
    A schissele mit eisen
    (now slower) Meesele mahsele
    Ai ai ai ai ai (tickle you up to your neck)

    Pardon my horrid transliteration! Anyway, my toddler loves this, so the tradition carries on.

  33. Judy Says:

    My grandma played this with us too! I remember the words slightly differently, though, but that doesn’t mean they’re any more correct…

    This would be tapped in the palm of the my hand:
    Saraka, varana, gichem, kachka, a priptiz kosta gilla

    Then, slowly and one at a time, each finger would be folded toward the thumb, from pinkie to thumb:
    Eta muteleh, eta muteleh, eta muteleh, eta muteleh

    And then when she got to the thumb she’d wiggle it and say:
    Tis chimehlee

    And then she’d run her fingers up my arm and tickle me:
    Shukeeeeee!!!!

    I remember my mom saying that it was about a housewife doing her chores and a little bird comes and asks her for bread. She tells her all the chores she has to do first (that’s the “etemuteleh” part) and then tells her to fly away (“shukee”). I have no idea if this is true…

  34. Karen Says:

    My father sang a version of these counting songs. He came from Lwow and I’m wondering if anyone can help? I’m typing his “memoirs” and would like to include it.
    “Kra, kra worona, dzieciom kaczkym parzyla – can’t remember the next part – te mu dala, temu dala, …. a z tym frrr….. i poleczala”

  35. Lisa Says:

    That sounds like the rhymes here.

  36. Abbe Says:

    As I contemplate empty nesthood and my older siblings become grandparents, I was suddenly thinking about the simple connection my grandmother had with my oldest daughter. She used to play a similar rhyme with her, done in Yiddish.

    I am sure I have the words messed up, but here goes nothing:

    (make 2 circles in the palm of the child’s hand with your forefinger while holding the palm up with the other hand and then tap three times ) say “keezelah maizelah pick pick pick
    (repeat the above motion) say (shteta hunt afun brick)
    (repeat 2 circles again, and then tickle up the arm) und sun shrei K’rick K”rick K”rick.
    I know the last part is about some animal crying out “Karick karick karick”
    Hope someone else has a similar memory!

  37. Donna Wolfe Says:

    My 94 tr old mother-in-law (with Russian/Yiddish background) is looking for the origins of what sounds like:
    “mala mala meesa
    vou vlo fleesa
    Inna cana vininda
    vou vlo vaselov
    in inda in inda in inda”.
    I am sure this is a derivative of a long ago rhyme but… perhaps someone knows.
    Thank you.

  38. Janike Says:

    I am looking for the words of a rhyme, something like:
    “enger menger las mir leben…”
    My dad taught me this about 60 years ago. He was from Lithuania.
    I have unfortunately forgotten the words.
    Thank you

  39. Annie Says:

    My mother probably learned this from her mother, who came to America from Russia or Poland in the early 1900s. Spelling is phonetic.

    Mom would run her pointer finger slowly in a circle around my open palm, repeating softly, “Meezelah, myezelah,” any number of times. Then she’d exclaim, “Shishee poo poo!” as she ran her hand with tickling fingers up my arm to my arm pit or the back of my neck.

    Just as I did, my daughter always collapses in happy giggles when I carry on the tradition!

  40. Elise Says:

    I’m also looking for a Yiddish rhyme, but a different one. I remember it started like this:
    Mitzen zeigele, zeig, zeig, zeig (sawing movement with the hands)
    Mitzen hammeral, klop, klop, klop (hammering movement with the hands)

    That’s all I remember.
    Thanks!

  41. Corey Says:

    I remember my bubbe singing something like

    Tu Tu Tu yagala
    Mama’s kvagala
    temedala temadala

    there was more but it escapes my memory now

    Sound familiar to anyone?

  42. Cathy k Says:

    I wrote one of the early posts and love reading all the others. Jessica brings up another rhyme. I remember it as she wrot but with a couple more lined…vilder epis visen, as chisel e mit eisen, vilder epis geiben, as chisel e mit greiben, blobishkes blobishkes, blobishkes.

  43. melissa Says:

    My daughter and i were just playing a similar game with rhyme that my aunt used to do. I speak almost every Slavic language, so i know it’s not Russian, Polish, etc. I always assumed it was Yiddish. It is very similar to this one described so many times, but the words are very different. I wonder if the words simply got mangled through the generations (my aunt would be 75-ish today, and was i think 2nd or 3rg generation American, with German ancestry).
    Hers went:
    (holding the child’s hand palm up, trying to sound, according to her, like a “Gypsy”
    She would stroke the hand once, tickling, for each word….’Mala, tala, ilshkin, spilshkin…..tick a tick a tick” (up the arm to the elbow or neck, tickling)

    Did she totally just make up the words to fit the game, or does anyone recognize anything like this?
    Thanks!

  44. Olga Says:

    Wow,, it seems every Grandma had their own version of the same song. My Ukranian mother -played a game with my children while she sang. It was about children cooking kasha along the roadside, and when done gave some to this child and then to this child, but after the last child got some it pulled off its head and turned out to be a bird who flew high high up in the air. She would wiggle your fingers as each child got kasha, and when the bird flew away she grabbed your wrist and waved back and forth. Does this sound familar to anyone?

  45. Ronne Says:

    My Yiddish-speaking father, from Zakilikow, Poland -near the Ukraine border – did this finger-play with me when I was very little (more than 65 years ago):
    (Drawing a circle in my palm with his index finger:)
    Tchu-tchu, tchu-tchu, Sorechka,
    Kashi, milch, voretchka.
    (Touching each finger in turn:)
    Tem-a-dollar, tem-a-dollar, tem-a-dollar, tem-a-dollar,
    (Holding the pinky:)
    Grrrr…..(running finger up the arm)…. Etchka! (Tickling under the arm – always accompanied by raucous giggling on my part!)

  46. Faith Oland Says:

    Abbe had the rhyme my grandmother did…..keezelah meezelah…chic chic chic….also including the “temedala, temedala…” My grandparents came from Lancut, near Lwow

  47. Shelley Schklar Says:

    I am wondering about a little song my mother sang with my children when they were little and I am now singing with my grandson…but I don’t know what it means and I don’t know if it is Russian or Yiddish. The hand is held up,,horizontally, and then turned back and forth while singing “Kosinki, Kosinki”. My grandson loves it and he will start turning his hand around when I start singing it! Is anyone familiar with it?

    Thanks!!!

  48. Monique Says:

    Maya wrote from Russia:

    “I had a look at the comment above. I can’t figure out what it is from the way it’s written (sometimes, it’s hard to guess when it’s written with the Latin alphabet!). Maybe it’s the plural of “little goats” but it also looks like the plural of “headscarf”. Anyway, it doesn’t ring any bells, sorry!

    When reading the comments, I realized Russian and Yiddish oral traditions may have intertwined during the cultural transmission within the migrants’ families. I understood that many people who write on the blog are Americans of Russian or Jewish background, so they have some memories from their childhood, some rhymes, sound and actions-wise but not linguistically. But it can be felt that they have this nostalgia about their ancestors, hence the reason why they try to rediscover those rhymes.”

  49. Sharon Says:

    I found this website because I am trying to find out about the nursery rhyme below. This is just my transliteration of what I though a relative was saying. To me, the second line sounds like its referring to a cat or cats eating something up.

    A dus da legen na stickle a fly

    Came die ketzen und all die fretzen

    Kiesel la mazel kiezel la mazel

    Kitz, kitz, kitz.

    Any thoughts will be appreciated. My relatives are not sure what the original language was (Polish, Yiddish, German?), but both remembered parents or grandparents reciting something like this. The relatives, however, are not in agreement about the exact sounds involved. They agree that the game concluded with the adult kissing the child’s arm.

  50. jesse Says:

    @olga, @mamalisa,
    This sounds familiar to me. My grandpa is Ukrainian and used to do a similar story on my hand about a mother bird feeding her 5 babies. It begins with pretend spit in my palm, then a circular motion in my palm, then taking a pinch from my palm to all my fingers until we got to my pinky finger and it was a bad little bird and got its head twisted off. It sounded like this.
    caw-caw wvoodena, teeshem cashem woodena, deek deek puda shka, dama kasha puden shka. temedala, temedala, temedala, temedala, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ theblank is the part when the last babybird or my pinky finger gets its “head taken off” for not eating and misbehaving. I’d always laugh really hard in anticipation for this part so i dont remember how it sounded at the end.

  51. Kristen Says:

    My grandmother had one in German, which I do not speak, but I am writing it phonetically from what I can remember. It roughly translates to:

    There was a mouse making some soup (or someone making mouse soup? the palm is circled while this is said), and she gave some to this one, and this one, and this one, and this one (each finger is touched), and she cut this one’s head off (thumb is touched), and it ran and it ran and it ran (fingers are run up the arm) and it hid up here (neck is tickled).

    It sounds like Kleinen mousel bopplekopf canine mousen rhindal, dane haht skaben, dane haht skaben, dane haht skaben, dane haht skaben, und slaufen, und slaufen, und slaufen, und ? (can’t remember that part, as my neck was always being tickled and I was laughing).

  52. Harry Says:

    My grandmother (Ukrainian) who passed away just the other day used to tell us one that went:

    Kra, kra, Vorona.
    (Something about mama giving Kasha to her babies
    Then
    Some for you, some for you… But none for you!
    So she twists off its head and throws it out of the nest!
    Foo-foo-foo-foo-foo!

    I’d love to get the words in Ukrainian.

  53. Malka Says:

    Thank you for bringing back such sweet memories. Does anyone know the Yiddish words for this one: Patshe, Patshe Kikhelekh? I remember my grandma singing it with me. The English is something like “Clap, clap your little cakes. Father buys you little shoes. Mommy is making little bags. Health in your little cheeks!” I saw a grandma singing it on You Tube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22jFrv-ymfA, but I couldn’t write down the words fast enough.
    Thanks in advance for your help.

  54. Lisa Says:

    Malka, I just posted the Patshe, Patshe Kikhelekh rhyme for you here! Enjoy! -Mama Lisa

  55. Karen Says:

    My grandmother would say a similar poem with me when I was a child. Her background was Polish and German and she grew up in Wisconsin. The translation of the poem is:
    mousy mousy made some porridge (light tickling on the palm of the hand)
    she gave this one some (wiggle smallest finger)
    she gave this one some
    (Wiggle next finger)
    she gave this one some
    (Wiggle middle finger)
    this one she didn’t give any
    (Wiggle pointer finger)
    And this one she ripped off it’s head
    (Wiggle thumb)
    Then she went walking walking walking
    (walk fingers up arm)
    and his right up in her(tickle under the armpit)
    She said it was in polish, but the few words I recall, I have no idea how to spell so verifying is difficult.

  56. Naomi Alper Says:

    My grandfather used to say a nursery rhyme game with us about a naughty boy putting something in his pocket and (I think) a hole in the pocket. Any ideas?

  57. Rita Says:

    Anyone remember a hand game called “cru cru”? Also ended with
    Running fingers up the child’s arm and tickling him/her

  58. Sharon Bruce Says:

    The Yiddish version of patty cake my grandmother used to play with us. It sounded like
    “pache, pache kuchen, mamle mach a r—-en. Or was it the other way around? I’ve got the “cake” and “make” part of the rhyme.

  59. mel Says:

    So I have a back round that my great grand parents smuggled over during WWII. I remember hear kashka Baba and calling my grandma not gma but something else. They say were from bohemian but are ashamed of claiming it because apparently no one believed it existed lmk asap
    scheysway@gmail.com.mel

  60. Tina Says:

    My grandmother was from Poland and she used to do something similar but with no tickling. She said it was about a mother bird feeding her babies and then they all fly away at the end. She would hold our hands and draw circles in the palm as she sang the beginning part. Then, as she said the “temadala” part, she would touch each finger from thumb to pinky as if to feed each baby bird and then, after touching the pinky, she would throw her hands in the air and say in English as way of explanation, “They all fly away!”
    I do not know Polish and I mostly remember this from my mom doing it to her grandchildren … But now she has alzheimers. So … This is the best I can do and I am writing it phonetically.
    Cha cha
    sahdikah
    Pahli dollah jollikuh
    Gech tem (or tum) mistahluh
    Gech tem divahluh (divahluh might mean to divide)
    Temidala
    Temidala
    Temidala
    Temidala
    Temidala
    Gech tem mistahluh
    (“They all fly away!”)

  61. nancy Says:

    My grandmother was Romanian . She played this with me in the 1960’s ..
    She would blow on and then wipe the palm, then make a circle and end with tickling us up the back of the neck…
    A Key-zeh-la
    Mazel-ah
    kitchy kithcy kitchy koo .
    it must be be yiddish , german or romanian

  62. nancy Says:

    actually it ended kutschy kutschy kutschy koo and i think “mazel-ah” was a little mouse

  63. Richard Says:

    I was looking for the translation for the game my grandfather played with me when I was a kid, and also, thankfully, with my daughter before he died, and I came across this site. He was from Lithuania, but spoke Russian, Yiddish, English, Spanish, French, Italian and a little German. He died in 1995, and the last time I saw him do this with my daughter a little before that I wrote it down;

    Hold the child’s palm open and up to mouth, and say “poo, poo, poo,poo, poo, poo” into the opened palm. Then make circular motions in the child’s palm with an index finger while holding the palm open with the other hand. While doing the circular motion say, “saroka varona kashka varila”. Then move the index finger quickly up the child’s arm to the child’s ribs and tickle the child. While moving up the arm and tickling say, “tamu dals, tamu dala, tamu neetz, neetz zastala”. My grandfather told me the rough interpretation is: “saroka varona kashka varila” means “The bird mixes up the food”; tamu dala, tamu dala, tamu neetz, neetz zastala” means “give some to this one, give some to that one, give until there is nothing left”.

    Can anyone tell me what language this is, correct the words if necessary, and confirm or correct the translation? I would love to take this to the next level with my grandkids (If my kids ever decidde to get marry and have some!)

  64. Lisa Says:

    Hi, I believe that’s a version of the Russian rhyme called Сорока-воровка (Thieving Magpie). You can find the Russian words with the pronunciation and an English translation on Mama Lisa’ s World Russian pages. Just click the link to get there! Different versions of this rhyme exist. -Mama Lisa

  65. Steve Weiss Says:

    It’s Kizele Mazele (pronounced keezellah mazzellah), and it’s a Yiddish tickle rhyme about a mouse and a louse. My Hungarian grandmother used to say it. My father knew it well but died a year ago, so I’ll have to research it more and get back to you!

  66. Lisa Says:

    I found here that “kizele mazele” it means “lucky tickly” or “tickle-luck”.

  67. Harry Says:

    Here’s what I was able to piece together with your help here, and Google Translate:

    Kra, kra, vorona

    крa, крa, ворона
    мама дає кашці ворона
    цьому дала
    цьому дала
    цьому не далo
    голови викрутила і кинула
    Foo-foo-foo-foo-foo

    Kra, Kra, vorona
    mama daye kasha vorona
    Ts’omu dala
    Ts’omu dala
    Ts’omu ne dalo
    holova vykrutila i kynula
    Foo-foo-foo-foo-foo

    Caw, caw, crow
    Mama makes porridge for her crows
    Some for this one,
    Some for this one,
    No more for this one.
    The head was twisted off and tossed out!
    Foo-foo-foo-foo-fo

  68. Rhiannon Stanger Says:

    As I remember it (only the ending) and I believe it was Yiddish,

    It sounded like:

    akuzzellah mizzellah keezellah mazzellah, gee gee gee or kee kee kee!

    My mother did it around my belly button up to my neck or my grandmother would do it on the inside of your arm up to your neck.
    I want to know the name of the song and meaning deeply as my mother passed away last year and I hoped to teach my 1 year old.
    rhiannon620@gmail.com if anyone knows it, my background is Jewish, Hungarian and Yugoslavian.

  69. Bob Nulman Says:

    My Ukrainian Bubbe’s rhyme was something like:

    Oy bisti meis, (tickling the palm)
    Medina mit da fleiss,
    Yenter deroita, Yenter deroita
    Yenter deroita, roi! (Big body tickle)

    Does anyone remember something similar?

  70. Jenny Wollock Says:

    This is a fascinating thread.

    There are a couple of Yiddish childrens’ hand games that I learned from the late poet, songwriter, and artist Beyle Shechter-Gottesman (and played with my children to their great pleasure). Beyle was from Chernovitz (Romanian Cernăuți/Ukrainian Chernivtsi). It looks as though several of the versions mentioned in the thread are related to these.

    1) (To be said while tickling the child’s palm in a circle) “Keyzele-mayzele boyt a hayzele”
    and then scamper with your fingers up the child’s arm and tickle him or her under the chin while
    saying “Kits-kits-kits-kits-kits-kits-kits.” Approximate translation: “Cheesy little mouse builds a little house.” “Kits-kits…” means “tickle, tickle, tickle.” This is the “Keezelah mazellah” referred to above. Or in some versions, “meezelah mazelah.” The pronunciation “meezhelah mayzhelah” is northern (Lithuanian) Yiddish. I’m not sure that “meezelah” means anything, it may be just a play-word to go with “mayzele” (little mouse).

    It may be a play on “mies” (pronounced like “meeus” — compare in the thread above, “Oy biste mies”, “Oh, how ugly you are.”). Because of the belief in the evil eye (ayin hora), Jewish mothers and grandmothers would not say to their child “how beautiful you are,” but rather — “how ugly” (mies or miesele, dear little ugly one) — or just say “keyn ayin hora” (no evil eye); or, as my husband’s grandmother used to say, “a beyz eyg zol dir nit shatn” (an evil eye should not harm you). Yet (and this may seem contradictory) they would also address a child affectionately as “sheyn kind,” (beautiful child”), “tate-sheynts”, “mame-sheynts” (Daddy’s beautiful one, Mommy’s beautiful one), etc.

    I would add that I am very intrigued by that rhyme, “Oy biste mies.” Unfortunately, I can’t make any sense out of it, except for the first line. I wish I could.

    Somebody in the thread thought “mazele” means “lucky”, but no — the word “mazel” means luck (but not “lucky,” which is “mazeldik”), but is totally unrelated to “mazele” (southern Yiddish pronunciation of “mayzele,” little mouse).

    2) Alternatively or as a follow-up you run your forefinger in a circle on the back of the child’s hand and say “Sorenyu vorenyu kasha mit milekh”; then gently run your fingers up the child’s arm (with a slight pinching motion like the beak of a bird) while saying “Kra-kra-kra-kra-kra-kra-kra.” Approximate translation: “Dear little Sarah, dear little crow, porridge with milk! Caw-caw-caw…” This is evidently a Yiddish variant of the “Soroka-Vorona/ Kashu varila” and “kra kra vorona” mentioned above, and yes — in Yiddish, the crow is still cooking the porridge.

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