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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 10Jews in Early Modern Poland$
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Gershon David Hundert

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774310

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774310.001.0001

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Mayufes: A Window on Polish–Jewish Relations

Mayufes: A Window on Polish–Jewish Relations

Chapter:
(p.273) Mayufes: A Window on Polish–Jewish Relations
Source:
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 10
Author(s):

Chone Shmeruk

, Anna Barber
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781874774310.003.0011

This chapter studies mayufes, a custom the author terms ‘a window on Polish–Jewish relations’. For centuries, mayufes was part of the Polish–Jewish experience. In Polish dictionaries and other sources, mayufes is usually defined as ‘a song sung by Jews at the Sabbath midday meal’, or ‘a song sung by Jews at certain religious ceremonies’; a ‘dance’; or even a ‘ritual Jewish dance’. According to Polish dictionaries, mayufes derives from the opening words of the well-known Hebrew Sabbath zemer (song sung at the Sabbath table) Mah yofis (‘How fair you are’). None of these definitions takes note of a crucial feature of the concept of mayufes in Polish–Jewish culture, however. When a mayufes was sung or danced by a Jew, or someone imitating a Jew, it was not at the family Sabbath table. Rather, it was performed before a Polish audience, without any relation to the context or significance of the original Jewish zemer.

Keywords:   mayufes, Polish–Jewish relations, Polish–Jewish experience, ritual Jewish dance, Polish–Jewish culture, Jews, Jewish zemer

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