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Ode to Rebbetzin Savta

From that moment on, every meal, and I mean every meal, was punctuated by passionate singing of the “Rebbetzin song”

The tune is the famous and fast-moving melody associated with Mipi Keil, a staple of the Simchas Torah hakafos. And the sophisticated wording? Basically, an ad nauseum repetition of the refrain Rebbetzin Klein, with multiple highly original verses along the lines of “Ein balabuste k’Rebbetzin Klein” interspersed between a multitude of Rebbetzin, Rebbetzin, Rebbetzin Klein tongue twisters.

Granted, it never made the hit parade in any country, but it numbers among my all-time favorites. And most people would probably agree that the tune and lyrics are quite catchy. (Perhaps like an infectious disease!)

I think it’s one of the best songs ever composed. Truth to tell, I admit to being, ahem, somewhat biased. Fact is that said little ditty is an original composition about none other than yours truly…. Yup, it can trace its humble origins to my husband’s infinitely more humble yeshivah dining room, where it was subsequently sung and re-sung countless times by a sincere group of ostensibly tone-deaf students.

One of my son’s classmates and best friends thought it up on his own to show appreciation to their rebbi’s wife, a.k.a. the rebbetzin, a.k.a. moi, for the occasional meals, and especially the homemade desserts I regularly prepared for the bochurim.

It was music to my ears, even as I invariably blushed from ear to said ear. However, I definitely got the impression that each boy’s heart (the one proverbially reached through their stomach) was indeed in the right place. Besides who among us doesn’t value feeling appreciated?

The song made its debut during the early days of the yeshivah, loudly and passionately belted out by the wonderful boys of the very first, and never to be replicated, shiur alef. They also bought and inscribed a beautiful leather siddur for me, which I sincerely treasure until today.

The tradition continued for a few years, but eventually the yeshivah grew to a point when the boys’ relationship with “the Rebbetzin” was no longer as personal. I could no longer manage to host all of the bochurim in my none-too-spacious home, other than for the annual Purim seudah, when a respectable number of talmidim continued to join us.

Thus, over the course of the next several years, the yeshivah song was sung less and less frequently, until it was all but forgotten….

Then one of our daughters and her family joined us for Yom Tov, and amid their constant compliments and effusive praise and gratitude at the end of every meal, one of our single sons playfully reintroduced the once famous “Rebbetzin song.”

My son-in-law and grandchildren took to it like a fish to water. From that moment on, every meal, and I mean every meal, was punctuated by passionate singing of the “Rebbetzin song.” In fact, no seudah was complete without an impassioned stanza about the specific appetizers, mains, and desserts that had made their appearance.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 664)

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