Many people would be surprised to learn that there is a Yiddish prayer that can be found in our modern Siddur. The prayer, Got Fun Avrohom (God of Abraham) follows Havdalah, the ceremony of separation that is recited over wine, spices and a braided candle. Havdalah officially delineates the conclusion of the Sabbath.
Got Fun Avrahom is part of a vast collection of Yiddish Techinas or prayers of supplication that were recited by Jewish women on a multitude of joyous and often sorrowful occasions. Shabbat, festivals, fast days, illness, child birth, immersion in the Mikva (ritual bath) and separation of the Challah when baking the Sabbath loaves, are just a few of the subjects of these heartfelt petitions.
At a time when formal Hebrew education and participation in the synagogue service were mostly limited to men, women found a vital outlet in prayers that were composed in Yiddish – the common vernacular of Ashenazic Jews. [Click here for a comprehensive article on the history and nature of he Yiddish Language]
Rivka Zakutinsky, who published a collection of Techinas entitled A Voice From The Heart,traces this genre of personal prayer that is unique to women to the biblical Hanna. Her tearful entreaties to God to please bless her with a child, caught the attention of the High Priest who at first thought she was drunk. Ultimately, because of the intensity and sincerity of her supplication, God heard her prayer and she became the mother of the great prophet, Samuel. Zakutinsky notes that there once were innumerable collections of Techinas published from the late 16thto early 19thCenturies, the earliest known of which is Techinas U’ Bakashos published in Basel, Switzerland in 1609.
Writing in Or Hadash, a Commentary on the Sim Shalom Weekday Prayer Book,Chava Weissler points out that Got Fun Avrahom was the woman’s version of the Havdalah prayer that was simultaneously being recited by the men at the synagogue. In fact, our Yiddish prayer contains similar sentiments to Havdalah, such as petitions for Divine protection during the week to come, as well as for success and financial stability. Weissler indicates that just as reciting Havdalah marks the transition from the Holy Shabbat to the ordinary weekdays for men, Got fun Avrahom performs this function for women.
One might ask how this personal Yiddish supplication made its way into the Hebrew Prayer Book. Perhaps one reason for this is that for many years the authorship of Got Fun Avrohom was erroneously attributed to the legendary Hassidic Master and scholar Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev (1740–1809). In fact, however, versions of this prayer have been found in older publications including a grace after meals booklet published in Amsterdam that dates back to 1723. (An image of this booklet can be found in this post on the Jewish Book Seller Blog.) A more likely reason for its inclusion is the prayer’s widespread high regard in Jewish households. In either case, for our purposes, it is a beautiful conclusion to the Havdalah ceremony as we bid farewell to the Sabbath and prepare for the week ahead.
Below is the text and English translation of the somewhat condensed version of Got Fun Avrahom that appears in our Siddur Sim Shalom for Week Days (p166):
גאַט פוּן אברהם
גאַט פוּן אברהם פוּן יצחק אוּן יעקב [פוּן שרה פוּן ריבקה פוּן רחל אוּן לאה,] בּהיט דַיין פאָלק ישראל אִן זַיין נוֹיט. דער ליבּער, הַייליגער שבּת גייט אַוועק. דִי גוּטע וואך זָל אוּדז קוּמען צוּ געזוּנט אוּן צוּם לעבען, צוּ מזל צוּ בּרכה, צוּ עוֹשר אוּן כבוד, צוּ חן אוּן צוּ חסד, צוּ א גוּטער פּרנסה, אוּן הצלחה אוּן צוּ אַלע גוּטן געווינס אוּן מחילת עוווֹנוֹת, אמן ואמן סלה.
A YIDDISH PRAYER
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, [Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah], protect Your people Israel in their need, as the holy, beloved Sabbath takes its leave. May the good week come to us with health and life, good fortune and blessing, prosperity and dignity, graciousness and lovingkindness, sustenance and success, with all good blessings and with forgiveness of sin. Amen.
Follow this link to a full version of Got Fun Avrahom including an English Translation.
This is a beautiful rendition of Got Fun Avraom sung to a traditional melody by Mappamundi and Cabaret Warsaw:
Finally this is a Yiddish song Called Der Got Fun Avrahom by the great composer of secular and liturgical Jewish music, Sholom Secunda. The lyrics, written by H. Rosenblatt paint a tearful scene of a grandchild pleading with their Bobbie (grandmother) not to usher in a week of hardship and gloom by ending the peaceful holy Shabbat through the singing of Got Fun Avrahom. It is sung by Broadway star Hazzan Dudu Fisher:
NU! Want to learn to Speak Yiddish Already?
Beginners conversational Yiddish taught by Hazzan Krausman
Learn to read and speak in the language of our parents and grand parents – find out what they’ve been saying behind your back; they’ll have such nachas!!!
Besides basic conversation, will we also learn common expressions and listen to some classic Yiddish songs.
Sunday mornings at 11:00am beginning Sunday November 4, 2018
To RSVP or for more info, contact the Hazzan Krausman email@example.com