“Mayn tayer mimele” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Mayn tayer mimele / My Dear Auntie
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW], recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is a timely song for Elul (beginning August 11-12) since it is mentioned in the first line. Elul leads up to the high holidays and is a serious time of reflection. Mimele (Auntie), it is implied, takes advantage of this charity giving time to rake in some charity for herself.

After the recording of the song, in the brief dialogue with the interviewer Kahn, LSW says she heard it about 50 years ago (around the turn of the 20th century) from older women – her mother or her aunts. She adds that it is not a children’s song and not a theater song. “In our town we hadn’t yet heard about the theater.”


Lifshe Schaechter-Widman’s shtetl Zvinyetshke in the Bukovina

The Galician songwriter Nokhem Sternheim (1879 – 1942) wrote a popular song Mayn tayere Malkele which was recorded by Miriam Kressyn, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Salomon Klezmorim, Jane Peppler and Noel Akchote. The story behind the Sternheim song is told in Norman Salsitz’s memoirs Three Homelands: Memoirs of Jewish Life in Poland, Israel and America.

The melody also is similar to Dos kishinever shtikele made famous by Moyshe Oysher and recorded by others. The first part of the melody was also played by klezmorim. Dave Tarras includes it in his medley called Kishinev on the CD Dave Tarras: Master of the Jewish Clarinet produced by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance.

But in terms of folksong, a version of the Tayer mimele entitled Tayer Yankele with a similar melody and storyline (Yankl is a thief) appears in Menachem Kipnis’ collection 70 folkslider, Warsaw, 1920. A scan of that is attached; evidence that Sternheim based his song on the earlier folksong.


Ver fleyg geyn rosh-khoydesh Elul mit di pishkes?
Mayn tayer mimele.
Ver fleyg bam katsev ganvenen di kishkes?
Mayn tayer mimele.

Eyn mul hot zi der tate gekhapt.
Mayn tayer Mimele.
Oy hot er geshlugn, oy hot er geklapt!
Mayn tayer Mimele.


Who used to go around the first day of Elul with a charity box (pushke)?
My dear auntie.
Who used to steal the cow’s intestines from the butcher?
My dear auntie.

Once her father caught her.
My dear auntie.
Oy did he beat her, oy did he hit her.
My dear auntie.
Tayer Yankele
in Menachem Kipnis’ collection 70 folkslider, Warsaw, 1920:


5 Responses to ““Mayn tayer mimele” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman”

  1. Yitskhok Gottesman Says:

    In the play “Coquette Dames” – Di kokete damen by N. M Schaikewitz (Shomer) NY Hebrew Publishing Co. 1910, pages 48-49, they sing a song “Mayn tayer Yankele” which seems structurally to be the same melody but no music is published in this printing.

    • Yitskhok Gottesman Says:

      “Tayere Malkele” is printed, words and music, in Pearls of Yiddisong by the Mloteks. Page 50- 52

  2. itzik gottesman Says:

    In the collection Rosinkess mit Mandlen, by Dr. Immanuel Olsvanger, Basel 1920, there is a song #366 p. 264-65, “Majn tajerer seijdenju” which seems to be the same song. It alternates Seidenju (grandfather) with bobenju (grandmother). In the same volume, p. 254, there is another song “Awremenju melamed” which also seems to be a version of the song.

  3. Itzik Gottesman Says:

    The Soviet yiddish singer Emil Gorovits sang the folksong “Vos hostu mir opgeton, tayer lebn mans” with the same melody. See this link, 8.00 minutes in. https://sonichits.com/video/Emil_Gorovets/Nokhemke_mayn_zun

  4. itzik gottesman Says:

    The melody is also related to the underworld song Simkhe Khazer recorded by the Klezmatics (on “Apikorsim”) and others. It can be found, words and melody, in Slobin/Beregovski page. 231. The melody is also shared by the song “Mayn tayer Yankele” The Klezmatics combined Simkhe khazer and “Mayn tayer Yankele” into one song. In the “Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive” , “Mayn tayer Yankele” is called “Ver s’hot im gekent” page 154 – 155.

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