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The Mamales

Jodi, Maya and Raquel met while doing Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, directed by Joel Grey at the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene and bonded over their love for golden age music and pickles. They soon realized that singing in Yiddish together was something special and officially formed “The Mamales” at a deli on the LES in 2022. 


The three now perform as a dynamic trio nationwide, covering Yiddish favorites, Broadway hits, beloved standards, and more. Their name is an homage to Molly Picon, the brilliant performer and lyricist, who penned the words to the group’s first cover “Abi Gezunt," which can be found on Youtube, Spotify, and Apple Music. 


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Jodi Snyder: 

Jodi is a New York based actor and singer hailing from the great city of Chicago. She recently completed a successful run in Fiddler on the Roof at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene in Battery Park and at Off-Broadway’s Stage 42, directed by Joel Grey and starring many Broadway vets, including Jackie Hoffman and Steven Skybell. Jodi has also been seen Off-Broadway as Mom and many other characters in the TheaterWorks production of Pete the Cat. She received her BFA from Syracuse University.  

Maya Jacobson: 

Maya Jacobson is an actor, singer, and writer based in Brooklyn. She was recently seen as Medium Alison in Fun Home at Studio Theater in Washington DC. Off-Broadway: Fidler Afn Dakh (directed by Joel Grey), America the Golden Land (National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene). Regional: Lyric Opera of Chicago (Chava in Barrie Kosky's Fiddler on the Roof), George Street Playhouse (Myra in A Walk on the Moon). She received her BFA from Boston Conservatory.

Raquel Nobile: 

Raquel Nobile is an actor and opera singer based in NYC and Philadelphia. She played Shprintze in Fiddler On The Roof in Yiddish at The National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene and again at Stage 42. She also performs internationally, most recently representing The Folksbiene in an international theater festival in Romania. Raquel attended Manhattan School of Music, enjoys playing golf and teaches a private studio of professional student singers.

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This singing trio wants to make Yiddish sexy again

Raquel Nobile, Jodi Snyder and Maya Jacobson form the trio “The Mamales” with a goal to eventually release a concept album of Yiddish song covers. (Courtesy)

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(New York Jewish Week) – Like many great ideas, “The Mamales,” a Yiddish singing group, began on a summer night at a bar on the Lower East Side. 

The women who make up the trio, Maya Jacobson, Raquel Nobile and Jodi Snyder, had gotten together for a night of fun and to reminisce about the 2018 production of “Fiddler on the Roof” (“Fidler afn Dakh”) at the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene, where they met as members of the cast.

Jacobson had been listening to The Barry Sisters — a duo whose Yiddish covers were wildly popular in the mid-20th century —  and realized it was time for the next generation to carry on the tradition.

“I heard The Barry Sisters’ version of ‘Abi Gezunt’ and I knew I wanted to record this with these two, my favorite people and some of the best performers I know, and make a trio,” Jacobson, 25, told the New York Jewish Week. “I knew people in the Jewish community would be really into this. Yiddish is such huge part of Jewish culture stomped on by the Holocaust that is really being found again.”


“We were just having a great time and dreaming out loud with each other,” Snyder, 28, recalled. “This project is coming at a time where we haven’t worked on a Yiddish project together in person in a while. I think we thought ‘why not dream big and try to make something for ourselves and have this passion project?’”

Despite acting in Yiddish productions and singing Yiddish covers, none of the women speaks Yiddish fluently, though Jacobson bragged that she had a continuous 71-day streak in Yiddish on the language-learning app Duolingo. 


Nobile, an opera singer with Puerto Rican and Italian heritage, is not Jewish, but “fell in love with the Yiddish language and the culture” in 2017, when she started performing with the Folksbiene. “I have a pretty good ear for it. It’s in my soul,” she said of the language. 

Nobile, 30, was awarded the National Theater Conference’s Emerging Professional of 2018 for her work with the Folksbiene, where she’s also performed in “Amerike: The Golden Land” and “The Sorceress.” 

Snyder, almost straight out of Syracuse University at the time, earned laughs and glowing reviews as Fruma Sarah, the ghost who appears to Tevye and Golde in the dream sequence of “Fiddler.”

To launch the project, the women started a GoFundMe page, with a goal to record and release a cover and music video of their rendition of “Abi Gezunt.” They raised $5,000 over the course of two months from donors around the country. 

“We’re constantly in disbelief by people’s generosity and excitement about this project,” Jacobson said.

The music video premieres today, just in time for Passover. It’s delightful and funny and, as Jacobson notes, sexy too. “When I listened to the song I realized that it’s really sexy,” she explained. “I don’t normally think of Yiddish as being sexy, but it totally can be.”

In the video, the three sing in Central Park, dressed as self-described “muppety, vaudevillian, mischievous, frumpy clowns,” who then transform into lounge singers hanging out and performing at a swanky bar, and back again. 

“The song translates to ‘As long as you’re well you can be happy,’” Jacobson explained. “The joy in performing is the throughline between those two scenes, because as long as you’re living your life with joy, and as we all know in these times, as long as you’re healthy, you’ll be okay.”

The name of the group, The Mamales, is an homage to the 1938 Polish Yiddish film “Mamele.” It starred Molly Picon, “Second Avenue’s longest-reigning queen and the best-known Yiddish actress/singer later on Broadway,” according to the Milken Archive of Jewish Music. Picon wrote the lyrics for Abraham Ellstein’s melody and performed “Abi Gezunt” in the film, where it became an instant hit.

The three don’t know what exactly is in store for them after the video launch, though they are eager to perform at JCCs, bnai mitzvah, synagogues and other venues. Eventually, they hope to create a concept album with Yiddish covers and accompanying videos just like this one. 

“We’re hoping for nichely viral,” Jacobson joked. “I hope it brings some joy and I hope that grandparents can share it with their grandkids and can show them how fun this language is. Because it’s a part of all of us.”

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There’s a new Yiddish trio in town! Their name is The Mamales, and they just premiered a new and incredibly delightful video for a catchy cover of the Yiddish classic “Abi Gezunt.” The video was filmed entirely in New York City, and sees the three professional singers go from frumpy clown-like frolicking (and rollerblading!) in the park to seductive singing in their evening wear at a local bar.

“When I heard the Barry Sister’s cover of ‘Abi Gezunt,’ my first thought was how hot is this?! I think a lot of Jewish people my age associate Yiddish with their grandparents, but it is so sexy,” Maya Jacobson, one of the members of the trio, tells Kveller over e-mail.

The Mamales are not the first all-female group to try to make Yiddish sexy again. Israeli duo Vibers have filmed two incredibly seductive technicolor videos to Yiddish classics — “Bei Mir Bitsu Shein” and “Chiribim Chiribom.” After watching these three videos, I can safely say that the sultry Yiddish revival is happening, and it is glorious.

The Mamales formed over the summer of 2021. Its three members, Jacobson, 25, Jodi Snyder, 28, and Raquel Nobile, 30, all met at the 2018 Yiddish Folksbiene production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in New York City. Jacobson tells me they bonded over “a shared love for golden age music, Yiddish, dad jokes and pickles.” Sounds like all our favorite things.

“Our name, The Mamales, is a tribute to Yiddish theater icon Molly Picon,” Jacobson explains. “She performed in theater, radio, TV and film, and also was an amazing lyricist. She actually wrote the lyrics to ‘Abi Gezunt,’ which was featured in the movie ‘Mamele.’ We gave it an American twist by changing the ‘e’ to an ‘a.'”

The band is hoping to cover more Yiddish classics in the future, but also to connect with Jewish composers to create new original Yiddish music. Their dream is to perform at synagogues and Jewish events around the world.

For Jacobson, wanting to sing in Yiddish is deeply personal. The daughter of a cantor, she grew up with a lot of Jewish music — but most of it was in Hebrew. Her grandfather and great-grandmother, who are Holocaust survivors, both spoke Yiddish, and while she grew up with a hum of melodies and sayings in the old Jewish tongue, she never immersed herself in it until her experiences with Folksbiene. It was then that she realized how vital the language was to her.

“I began to understand that Yiddish has a weight to it. It is the language of survivors and of the more than six million who did not survive. It is a language of resilience and triumph against all odds,” the singer explains.

“When I sing in Yiddish,” Jacobson says, “I know that the sounds I make are the sounds my family also made, in moments of great happiness and unfathomable anguish. There is no greater way to honor them than to sing in their native tongue.”

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