Today is Mother's Day in many countries, including the United States and Australia.
One of the best loved musical tributes to Jewish mothers is the song My Yiddishe Mamme, written by Jack Yellen and Lew Pollack in 1925. It was first recorded by Willie Howard, and was made famous in vaudeville by Belle Baker and by Sophie Tucker, and later by the Barry Sisters.
The song has been sung and recorded in many languages since then. In 2009, Cantor Yitzhak Meir Helfgot, one of the greatest and most important cantorial voices of the 21st century, sang it in a concert at the Central Synagogue in Sydney, Australia. He was joined by Jimmy Barnes, Australia's most successful Rock & Roll singer, in an English/Yiddish duet.
Writing in J-Wire, Jewish Online News from Australia and New Zealand, Henry Benjamin reported:
Barnes later took to the stage by himself to sing a solo version of “What a Wonderful World”. But before he performed he told the audience that he had telephoned his mother yesterday to ask her why she had given him a Star of David when he was about 18.
He told the crowd that his mother had said: “My mother gave it to me and her mother had given to her so I thought I would give it to you.” He then said that he had asked his mother if her grandmother was Jewish and she replied that she was and that her name was Esther.
Barnes continued: “If I get this right, my great grandmother was Jewish, my grandmother was Jewish, my mother is Jewish so I must be Jewish.” If he was expecting a welcome home, he got it in spades as the crowd applauded the story rapturously.We hope you enjoy the Helfgot/Barnes rendition of My Yiddishe Mamme and we wish all of our readers a happy Mother's Day.
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