The Little Yiddish Bentsher / דער קלײנער יידישער בענטשער
In high school, I got hooked on the Klezmatics — I saw them on PBS performing with Itzhak Perlman, and then I ran out to buy their latest album, Jews with Horns. In college, I enrolled in Yiddish 10A with Ellen Kellman, and, lucky for me, she’d regularly bring her guitar into class and teach us Yiddish folksongs.
As our family has grown, I’ve tried to incorporate Yiddish songs in our Shabbat routine. What started as some informal printouts has grown into this bentsher, prepared in honor of Avi’s bar mitzvah.
This is a somewhat idiosyncratic text, mainly because it simply represents our family’s home customs.
- The Yiddish songs are transliterated with the appropriate Ashkenazi pronunciation, but the Hebrew blessings are transliterated in the modern Israeli style.
- Most blessings that are said aloud as a group are transliterated, but birkat hamazon is not, since we have many other bentshers nearby with transliteration for those who need it.
Buy a copy
The Little Yiddish Bentsher is available on Amazon for immediate purchase. Given the economics of Amazon publishing, it’s not so affordable in bulk. I may be able to arrange cheaper bulk orders if anyone’s interested.
Download the PDF
The bentsher is available for download under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
- The Little Yiddish Bentsher (PDF, 392KB)
The links below should help with learning the songs we included.
- Shabbes sung by Theodore Bikel (YouTube)
Az ikh vel zingen
Lomir alle zingen
- Lomir alle zingen sung by Theodore Bikel (YouTube)
- Lomir alle zingen sung by Johnny Grey (YouTube)
- Lomir alle zingen sung by King Django (YouTube)
There’s considerable creativity in the specific foods mentioned in each verse. Choose your favorites.
- Lekhem: a shtikel beygele (a stick of bagel) / a dare skorinke (a dried crust)
- Bosor: a lung un a leberel (a lung and liver) / an eingedart kishkele (a dried up kishka)
- Dogim: a leybedik hekhtele (a lively pike) / a frish tzaplen karpele (a fresh, squirming carp) / a karpe gefilte (a stuffed carp)
- Kol matamim: a zisse tzimes’l (a sweet tzimmes) / a kompot (a compote) / a bis’l haagen-dazs
- Commentary on Brider, Zog by Itzik Gottesman (with sheet music)
We know Eyn mol from the Klezmatics, but the Ruth Rubin archive has a different version:
Eyn kol vein
- Gefilte fish sung by Henri Gerro (YouTube)
Az der rebbe
- Az der rebbe sung by Theodore Bikel (YouTube)
- Az der rebbe sung by Moshe Leiser, Ami Flammer, and Gérard Barreaux (YouTube)
- Shnirele perele sung by the Klezmatics with Joshua Nelson (YouTube)
- Shnirele perele sung by Pharoah’s Daughter (YouTube)
Zol shoyn kumen di geula
- Zol shoyn kumen di geula sung by the Klezmatics for NPR (YouTube)
- Zol shoyn kumen di geula sung by Cantor Yaakov Lemmer (YouTube)
- Hey, Dzhankoye sung by Ruth Rubin (YIVO)
- Hey, Dzhankoye sung by Pete Seeger (YouTube)
- Hey, Dzhankoye sung by The Limeliters (YouTube)
- A brief history of Jewish life in Crimea (Tablet Magazine)
Probably the most popular Yiddish song of all time.