Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
The Schmooze

Rapping About ‘My Yiddishe Mame’

A version of this post appeared in Yiddish here

A recently released music video weaves together the classic Yiddish hit “Mein Yiddishe Mame” (“My Jewish Mother”) with a modern hip-hop tribute to a more contemporary Jewish mother. In its first two weeks on You Tube, the video received a whopping 11,000 hits.

Mein Yiddishe Mama,” which was written by Jack Yellen and Lew Pollack in the early 1920s, was made famous by singer Sophie Tucker, cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, and later, the Barry Sisters. In 1928 it was featured as one of the five most popular songs on American radio. It has since been translated into other languages including Spanish, Hungarian, Polish and Finnish.

In the music video, produced by Sparks Next, 32-year-old cantor Mayer Goldberg sings a heartfelt rendition of the song, while images of young Jewish mothers and their children flash across the screen — young mothers preparing dinner, or older mothers affectionately stroking their grown daughter’s faces.

As soon as Goldberg finishes singing the Yiddish version of the song, a young singer from the Jewish rap group “Brooklyn Mentality” comes on to tell, in hip-hop style, about his youth, his rebellion against his mother and other figures of authority:

It weighed on my mom, she was always in the principal’s office
Becoming good seemed like an impossible process

The mother persists, he explains: “I dropped out, she told me this is the last chance you got now to make something of yourself.” He eventually enrolls in a Yeshiva far from home and “Everything changed.”

I can’t show how deep my feelings of gratitude are That you did more than stand by me You carried me, the faith that you had and have in me I just wanna start making you happy, see

Before Goldberg and his producer, Daniel Finkelman, made the video, they were aware that combining a sentimental Yiddish song with the raw and sharp beat of hip-hop would not go over well with many viewers.

“On the flip side, we also knew that if we went with the old lyrics of ‘Mein Yiddishe Mama’, we would potentially lose the younger generation,” Finkelman said in an interview with the Forverts. As it turned out, it was a risk worth taking. Since the video came out, it was shared multiple times on Facebook to a mostly young audience.

The music video is also remarkable for another reason: both Goldberg and Finkelman grew up in Israel in the 1980’s. Contrary to the stereotype of Israeli society’s negative stance towards Yiddish, they both have fond memories of the Yiddish songs they heard at home. Finkelman’s parents were immigrants from Ukraine, and his grandmother often spoke Yiddish. “Our favorite radio program was ‘Rozhinkes mit Mandlen’, where they constantly played Dudu Fisher and the Barry Sisters,” he said.

Goldberg’s father was a cantor in the IDF, and his family also listened to Dudu Fisher, as well as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, at home in Tel Aviv. “My parents didn’t really want us to listen to the goyishe (secular) love songs, so they played the Yiddish songs before we went to bed,” Goldberger said.

Goldberger and Finkelman originally planned to produce a hip-hop version of a Jewish holiday song, but they realized that it would be very limiting. “A Hanukkah song can only be played on Hanukkah,” Goldberg said. “But ‘A Yiddishe Mama’ is universal.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.