A Sentimental Yiddish Song Gain Popularity and Became a Worldwide Hit: Know How
Editorials News | May-24-2019
Known best for her sexy songs, Sophie Tucker pleased the crowd and showed her curves, her nerve and her sincere love for men and money. But when the singer took the stage in 1925, something else was on her mind: her mother.
Tucker debuted a new song that night. She didn’t sing about the courtship or success. It was a successful person crying to his late Jewish mother, an angelic "yiddishe momme" he had suffered in life, but who was now dead. That song becomes a big hit which is made in English and Yiddish. When Tucker completed, there was not a dry eye in the house. And although she felt a deep personal connection to the song, she had no idea that she had just performed a hymn.
More than a million copies were sold by the 1928 record for Columbia. Created in Yiddish and English language, "My Yiddishe Momme" took the globe by storm during the 1920s and 1930s, providing voice to the complex feelings of various immigrants regarding the assimilation and pain of losing a mother. But the song was more than a ripper, or an American phenomenon. "My Yiddishe Momme" would play an unexpected role in Nazi Germany and even in the Holocaust.
The song hit a nerve between both the Jewish and the non-Jewish public, writes biographer Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff. "The singer was firm in her explanation that the song was intended for all her listeners," she expresses. However, she showed a bittersweet emotion that would have manifested itself in the public of immigrants and second-generation Jews who were far from their homes and whose mothers had sacrificed for improving their lives.
The song was written by the lyricist Jack Yellen and the composer Lew Pollack. Yellen is best known for writing optimistic hits like "Ain’t She Sweet" and "Happy Days Are Here Again Again." They both had something in common as they both were Jews who emigrated to the United States when they were children at the end of the 19th century, and both were attracted by the burgeoning New York Yiddish theater scene.
Jewish immigrants at that time were flooding towards the United States, driven from their homes by pogroms, institutional discrimination and anti-Semitism which made life in Eastern Europe intolerable. Between 1881 and 1924, approximately 2.5 million Jews came to the United States from Eastern Europe for searching opportunities and religious freedom. They came with the Yiddish language along, and soon Yiddish papers, books, and theatrical productions flourished in New York.
By: Preeti Narula
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