“Mayn shifl” Performed by Nitsa Ranz

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Nitsa Ranz was born in Poland in 1922 and emigrated to America in 1950. Mayn shifl (My Cradle) was recorded at an event that I produced called Generations of Yiddish Song: A Concert of Mostly Unaccompanied Rarely Heard Yiddish Songs at the club Tonic on New York City’s Lower East Side on January 9th, 2001.

The other singers that day were Michael Alpert, Janet Leuchter, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, Paula Teitelbuam, Joshua Waletzky, and Jeff Warschauer. Ranz had a unique singing style, and though the song turned out to be American in origin, as I later found out when I discovered the song sheet (see below),  she sings with much of the traditional style in her voice.


The poet of the song, Leah Kapilowitz Hofman (1898 – 1952), was a pioneer of Yiddish children’s poetry in the US. Mayn shifl can be found in her collection In kinderland, published in 1919 in New York. The song’s music was set by composer Pinchos Jassinowsky (1886-1954), who wrote the music to several well-known Yiddish songs including Der kremer (words by A. Liessin).

Az di mame leygt mikh shlofn
in mayn vigele,
vigt zi mikh un zingt a lidl
 fun a tsigele.

When my mother puts me to sleep,
in my cradle,
she sings me a song as she cradles,
about a little goat.

Vert mayn vigele a shifl;
for ikh vayt avek.
Oyfn groysn yam, un ken nit
kumen tsu kayn breg.

My cradle becomes a ship,
so I travel far away.
On the big ocean, I cannot
come to a a shore.

Un di khvalyes oyfn vaser
loyfn mit geshrey;
hoybt zikh af mayn kleyne shifl
glaykh ariber zey.

And the waves on the water
crash with a shriek;
but my little ship
lifts right over them.

Kumen yam-fish bald tsu shvimen,
 vinken zey tsu mir;
Az ikh zol tsu zeyer palats
nemen a shpatsir. 

Sharks soon come a‘ swimming
and wink to me;
that I should take a walk
to their palace.

Flit mayn shifl oyfn vaser,
firt mikh tsu a land,
vu es zitst mayn gute mame,
mit a bukh in hant.

My boat flies on the water,
takes me to a land,
where my good mother sits,
with a book in her hand.

Shtel ikh op mayn kleyne shifl
shtayg fun ir aroys
Bin ikh vider lebn mamen
zetst zikh af ir shoys

So I stop my little ship
and I disembark
Again I am near my mother
and sit in her lap.

8 Responses to ““Mayn shifl” Performed by Nitsa Ranz”

  1. sholem aleykhem,

    kudos to you for launching this wonderful project! I am all about preserving yiddish and yiddishkayt! As you can see, I am an independent translator of Yiddish to English. I am registered with the YIVO, the National Yidish Bookk Center, The Holocaust Museum and many other venues. I work with Yizkor books, opersonal memoirs, letters, etc., both handwritten and printed. I would love to hear from you.
    nokhamol, dos iz a vunderbare proyekt. mindle crystel gross

  2. Eva Bilinska Says:

    I would like to find some pieces of it on youtube as a video

  3. chantal lasry Says:

    I sing this song to my little grandson. Just as my mother sang it to me.Is it on youtube too?

  4. […] (or Jassinowsky, 1886-1954, immigrated to the U.S. in 1917), who also composed the music for “Mayn shifl” previously posted on Yiddish Song of the […]

  5. itzik gottesman Says:

    Chana Mlotek writes about this song in her column “Leyener dermonen zikh lider” [Readers remember songs[, Forverts newspaper, NY Feb. 7th , 1992. Page 15. She publishes Ranz’s version and includes a photo of the author Kapelovitz-Hoffman.

  6. […] song by Nitsa Rantz was recorded at the same concert as Rantz’s song Mayn shifl that we had earlier posted in in our blog, at the club Tonic on Manhattan’s Lower East Side […]

  7. Leo Summergrad Says:

    This song was also recorded by Yechiel Burgin, in Israel

  8. This is lovely to hear! My great grandfather was pinchos jassinowsky so I live discovering these sites. Thank you for sharing his music!

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