Archive for Pepi Litman

“Di apikorsim” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Yiddish Song of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Di apikorsim (“The Heretics”) was the first song that Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) sang for collector Leybl Kahn in NYC in 1954. He recorded approximately 100 songs sung by LSW over the next few weeks or months. LSW is my grandmother and the child one hears in the background is my then 4-year old sister Taube. At one point during her singing, she gets up and runs after her. The spoken dialogue between LSW and Kahn is transcribed in the Yiddish text.

In Shloyme Prizament’s book Di broder zinger (Buenos-Aires, 1960), he has a version of this song with the music on pages 110-112. He writes that he wrote the words and music, and states that Pepi Litman recorded it. There is indeed a recording of Pepi Litman performing the song. This book can now be read and downloaded at the Yiddish Book Center website.

Shloyme Prizament was born in 1889 in Hibinev, Galicia and died in Buenos-Aires in 1973; his biography appears in the third volume of the “Leksikon fun yidishn teater”, pages 1873- 1876. Prizament was an amazingly prolific composer, songwriter, but I am not convinced that he wrote the song that LSW performs. The more likely scenario, in my opinion, is that he based his song on the popular current version that LSW sings.

The song itself, a maskilic song mocking the Hasidim but sung in the voice of true believers, was a common genre. However, in Apikorsim the humor is quite vulgar. In songs such as “Kum aher du filosof” the irony is much more subtle. Ruth Rubin’s book Voices of a People has a nice section on maskilic songs (chapter 10). Rubin also prints Velvl Zbarzher’s song “Moshiakh’s tsaytn” (pp. 255 – 257) which is on the same theme as di apikorsim.

A couple of comments on the words and rhymes of Apikorsim: “Daytshn” literally means “Germans”, but in the Yiddish of the 19th century, early 20th century, it referred to the Maskilim, the Jews who were assimilating and dressing like Germans – that is, as modern Europeans.

You will also hear that in the refrain which begins “Folgts daytshn…” there is no rhyme for gikh. LSW sings sheyn. The implied rhyme should be rikh – the devil, and my mother remembers LSW singing it vet ir oyszen vi a layt or oyszen vi a rikh so i put those options in brackets. The listener would have understood the implied rhyme gikh and rikh.

Di apikorsim, di voyle-yingen
es vet in zey ale trasken lingen
zey veln ale tsepiket vern
ven zey veln shoyfer-shel-moshiakh derhern.

The heretics, those loose fellows, 
Their lungs will all rattle.
They will burst apart,
when they hear the shofar of the messiah.

Far kol-rom vet vern gehert
der rebe vet lernen toyre.
Di apikorsim veln faln tsu dr’erd
far shrek un far moyre.

Loudly for all, it will be heard
the rebbe will teach Torah.
the heretics will fall to the ground,
out of fear and alarm.

Folgts datshn mekh,
un verts khasidemlekh gikh.
Tits un a yeyder yidishe kleyder
vet ir oyszen sheyn [vi a layt] [vi a rikh]/

Listen to me Germans [assimilated Jews]
and become Hasidim quickly.
Each of you dress in Jewish clothes,
so you will appear – beautiful [vi a layt - presentable] [vi a rikh - like a demon]

Hop, hop, yadadada, yadadalakh
hop, hop, yah……hop, hop, yadalala

Hop, hop, yadadada, yadadalakh
hop, hop, yah……hop, hop, yadalala

Eyner vet esn tsimes-kigl,
eyner a shtikl beylik,
eyner dem kigl, un eyner dem fligl,
un di rebetsin – dos interkheylik.

One will eat a tsimes-kugl
another a piece of white chicken meat.
For one a kugl, for another a wing,
and for the rebetsin – the bottom part.

Mir veln pikn fun dem rikn,
mir veln nisht ofhern,
Di sonim veln shteyn fun der vaytns [un kikn,]
un tsepiket vern.

We will gnaw on the backside,
and we will not stop.
Our enemies will stand from a distance [and watch].
And burst from envy.

Folgst daytshn…..
hop, hop….

Listen to me Germans…
Hop, hop….

Eyner vet esn a tsimes-kigl,
eyner a shtikl beylik
eyner a fligkl, dem andern dem kigl,
un di rebetsin – dos interkheylik.

One will eat a tsimes-kugel
one a piece of white meat.
One a wing, another the kugel,
and the rebetsin – the bottom part.

Vayn vet rinen fun di stelyes
af der rebetsin aleyn veln vaksn drelyes,
Mir, heylike kushere khsidim
veln hobn vos tsu lekn.

Wine will flow from the ceilings,
grapevines will even grow on the rebbetzin.
We holy and kosher hasidim
will have what to lick.

Af deym bal, in deytm groysn zal,
talmidim, khsidim,
rabonim, dayonim
veln mit undz tantsn geyn.

At the ball,
in the great hall,
yeshiva-students, Jewish judges,
will all dance with us.

Hop, hop…

Hop, hop.

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