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DER YIDDISH-VINKL October 15, 2004

Mothers-in-law have for ages been a matter of concern to folk who are marrying off a daughter. Will the mekhuteneste move in and try to dictate the behavior of her daughter-in-law? Apparently, this is not uncommon. Rarely, however, has anyone tried to write a song depicting the troublesome relationship between a bride’s parents and her in-laws. But there is a folk song entitled “Mekhuteneste Mayne” in Eleanor Gordon Mlotek’s compendium, “Mir Trogn a Gezang,” that ventures to mention the unmentionable.

Here is a transliteration of the poem in Yiddish, followed by an English version by Gus Tyler.

Mekhuteneste Mayne

Mekhuteneste mayne, mekhuteneste getraye

Oy, lomir zayn oyf eybik mekhutonim.

Ikh gib aykh haynt avek mayn tokhter far a shnur

Zi zol bay aykh nit onvern dos ponim.

Mekhuteneste mayne, mekhuteneste getraye

Mayn kind zolt ir in der fri nit vekn.

Un tomer vet ir zen an avle oyf mayn kind

Vi an eygene mame zolt ir dos fardekn.

Mekhuteneste mayne, mekhuteneste getraye

Oyf kinder hobn tut men blut fargisn.

Un tomer vet ir zen az der zun hot lib di shnur

Zol es aykh kholile nit fardrisn.

Mekhuteneste mayne, mekhuteneste getraye

Mayn tokhter fort tsu aykh in a parikl.

Un tomer vet ir zayn a shlak, a beyze shviger

Iz mayne tokhter oykhet an antikl!

My Dear In-law

Oh, dear in-law of mine, my in-law ever true

Oh, may we be forever friendly, I and you.

I give you now my daughter to become a daughter-in-law

May she grace your family forevermore.

Oh dear in-law of mine, my in-law ever true

Don’t wake my daughter early, for she’ll sure be hating you.

And should you find some fault within my lovely child

Treat her like her mother then, with words both sweet and mild.

Oh, dear in-law of mine, my in-law ever true

To raise a child is tough and can bring much pain to you.

And if you find your son really does love his wife

Oh, please don’t let this fact bring on an endless strife.

Oh, dear in-law of mine, my in-law ever true

My daughter wears a wig when she does come to you.

And should you be with her a vicious mean old shrew

She’ll beat you back with horrors that you never, ever knew.

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