Yidn zingen ani mamin
Jews Are Singing "Ani Mamin"
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Concluding with a desperate attempt at affirmation—desperate because it comes in response to imminent death and destruction—is the song Yidn zingen ani mamin (1973). The hymnlike chant is believed to have been sung as an anthem of hope and unswerving belief by many Jews in the German-built ghettos, concentration camps, and death camps during the Second World War.
The preexisting melodic material of this Ani mamin version is woven into the fabric of Weiner’s despairing art song. The text cries out, “The Messiah will come, even though he may tarry; he must come, he is coming, he is already here...!” The conclusion, surrounded by crashing chords, suggests hope against hope rather than realistic hope of rescue.
Editor's note by Neil W. Levin:
The words quoted in this song are based on the twelfth of Moses Maimonides’ (1135–1204) “Thirteen Articles of Faith,” which are recited daily by most observant Jews in the morning service and are also paraphrased in the hymn yigdal. These words have been set to different tunes and chants at various times. The melody upon which Weiner’s song is based is believed to have been fashioned for these words in the Warsaw Ghetto by the Hassidic singer-composer Azriel David Fastag. According to that scenario, it would have been spread from there to the camps to which Jews were deported from the ghetto, as well as to the outside world by the small number of Jews who escaped or otherwise survived. Notwithstanding admitted gaps in our knowledge of the actual provenance and currency of this song during the Holocaust, even concerning the degree to which its familiarity might have been exaggerated in postwar symbolism, it has become nonetheless indelibly associated with the Holocaust and with our perception that it was sung in that context. It has therefore become a staple rendition at Holocaust-related memorial events, for which it has also acquired a number of choral arrangements. The Ani Mamin of Max Helfman (1901–1963) is particularly notable.