This post originally appeared in the Yiddish Forverts.
Jews like many immigrant groups sought both to assimilate into broader American society and to hold onto their roots. One way to express pride in their Americanism and at the same time celebrate their own culture was to sing patriotic American songs in Yiddish. During the period of mass-immigration to America (1881-1924), songwriters created many Yiddish versions of patriotic American songs, as well as original patriotic songs in Yiddish.
In honor of America’s birthday here are four patriotic songs in Yiddish sung by the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus under the direction of Binyumen Schaechter. The videos, filmed during a 2014 concert, have subtitles in both English and transliterated Yiddish so you can sing along.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” (Original lyrics: Francis Scott Key, Yiddish: Berl Lapin)
Here the choir performs a stirring bilingual rendition of “America the Beautiful” (Original lyrics: Katharine Lee Bates, Yiddish: Berl Lapin)
And here are two patriotic songs that were originally written in Yiddish:
“America” by Zishe Weinper.
And a short ode to the Fourth of July by Elyokum Zunser.