Candles of Song: Yiddish Poems about Mothers Malka Heifetz Tussman

Yiddish poems about mothers, in memory of my mother, Miriam Pearlman Zucker, 1914-2012.

Photo of Malka Heifetz Tussman

Malka Heifetz Tussman (1896-1987) was born in Bolshaya-Khaitcha, Ukraine. She wrote her earliest poetry in Yiddish and Russian. She immigrated to the US at the age of 16 joining family in Chicago and began writing poetry in English but soon switched to Yiddish. She made her literary debut in 1918. She became a teacher in a secular Yiddish school in Milwaukee and studied at the University of Wisconsin. Later she, her husband and two sons moved to Los Angeles. In 1981 she was awarded the prestigious Itsik Manger Prize for Yiddish Poetry in Tel Aviv. Her poetry, according to the introduction in With Teeth in the Earth: Selected Poems of Malka Heifetz Tussman, translated and edited by Marcia Falk, “Frank and exploring, innovative in language – reveals the richness and complexity of a woman’s life.” She died in Berkeley, California. Heifetz Tussman published poems, stories and essays in Yiddish magazines both in America and Europe. Her six volumes of published verse include Lider (Poems), MIld mayn vild (Mild, my Wild), Shotns fun gedenken (Shadows of remembering), Bleter farn nit (Leaves don’t fall), Unter dayn tseykhn (Under your sign), and Haynt iz eybik (Today is forever).

Here, Vi Azoy Bistu Klug Gevorn, Mame, by Malka Heifetz Tussman, read by Sheva Zucker: