“Shlof Mayn Kind” (Sleep My Child)
Sung by Paul Robeson
More than just tender words to soothe a baby, Yiddish lullabies offer intimate snapshots of the Jewish experience and mini-narratives of exile, immigration, and dreams of a new life. When my Grandpa Benjamin left the shtetl to find work in New York, I can imagine my grandma Lena singing these words to the youngest of her five children back home in Poland. “Sleep, my child. Your father is in America–a wondrous place, a paradise for Jews where everyone is happy and challah is eaten, even on weekdays. I will cook broth for you there.” This song was originally written by the great Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem, but later published anonymously.