In Yiddish these same Jews could reply "Yo, got, mir zinen dayn oysdervaylt folk, ober farvos hostu undz
geartf oyshaln?" ("Yes, God, we are your chosen people.
Framed by Hebrew at beginning, middle and end--the opening quotation is from Psalm 22 ("Oh God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?")--the Yiddish serves as plea more than prayer, a familiar request in mameloshen to be rescued from the ravages of history: "Rete mikh, rete mikh fun gefar/Vie amol die oves fun beyzen tzar./ Her meyn gebet un mayn geveyn/Helfen kentsu undz
aleyn./" ("Rescue me from harm/as you did the Fathers of old/Hear my plea and my moan/ Only You can save us.") As the song ends, plea and prayer come together in the Shema, the traditional affirmation of the covenant between God and His chosen people.