Whilst the Canadian national anthem “O Canada” has been sung in a variety of non-English iterations, from Arabic to Spanish, it’s never been sung in Yiddish before. That is all about to change next month when two performances of the song in Yiddish will be released to the world on video, with the translation done by Hindy Nosek-Abelson in Toronto.

One source in Canada cites a total of 17 translations of the anthem, but that number is set to move up to 18 this year in the run-up to Canada Day on July 1, when two groups of Canadian Yiddishists debut their versions of the song. One performance will feature a solo by a well-known Canadian singer, Deb Filler, whilst the other Yiddish version will be sung by a choir of 125 people assembled in a Toronto TV studio, according to sources.

Why has there never been a Yiddish version of “O Canada” before? Well, nobody ever thought of doing one. All that is to change in 2017, when not one but two versions of the anthem will be sung in Yiddish.

So how did this novel idea come about? To make a long story short, it all just happened by serendipity and chance.

When a New York Times reporter in Canada asked this blogger if I knew of any non-English versions of the Canadian anthem for an informal project he was working on, I ”jokingly” told him in an email that I could sing it for him in Yiddish the next time I was in Toronto. I was kidding, kidding.

But then the idea hit me: why hasn’t someone done a Yiddish version of “O Canada” yet? I asked around, and one thing let to another. Now Jewish-Canadian history is about to be made. I will post the two 90-second videos here when they are ready in late June.

Canadian TV journalist Steve Paikin at TVO.org and his producer Wodek Szemberg told me who I might contact to set the wheels in motion and how to contact them. The rest is history — modern Yiddish history Canadian-style.

By the way, a Yiddish translation of the American national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a 90-second version sung in Yiddish (with subtitles), was uploaded to YouTube in 2014, with lyrics by Berl Lapin here:

So with Canada Day approaching, here is the translation by Hindy Nosek-Abelson (Copyright Hindy Nosek-Abelson 2017):

O ​K​ane​da
Undzer heym un eygn land
Mir libn dikh mit vunder un farshtand
Mit hertser fule zeyen mir
A land groys mit frayhayt
Fun noent, vayt

O Kaneda
Mir shteyen bay dayn zayt
Got shtitz dos land, prekhtik mit frayhayt

O Kaneda, mir shteyen bay dayn zayt
O Kaneda, mir shteyen bay dayn zayt