“Got fin Avrum” Performed by Matele (Margaret) Friedman

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Got fin Avrum/God of Abraham (a woman’s prayer).
Version as remembered by Matele (Margaret) Friedman.
Recorded by Mark David in Los Angeles, January 1, 2020. Transcribed by Eliezer Niborski.

Matele Friedman

Got fin Avrum

Got fin Avrum, fin Yitskhok, fin Yankev,
bahit dayn lib folk Yisroyl.
Zibn teyg in ale teyg zoln undz voyl bakimen,
Furs (?) tsu gevin, tse leybn, tse oysher, tse mazl, tse brukhe,
tse parnuse.

God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Protect your dear people of Israel.
For seven days and all the days may we only know good:
For prosperity, life, wealth, good fortune, blessing and livelihood.

Reboyne-shel-oylem,
tsu susen, tsu simkhe, tse yeshies toyves, tse psires toyves,
Tsim alem gitn un tsu gevint[?].
Tsu gevin, tsu gevin, tsu lange lebetug [=lebnstug?]
hot der liber her Got fil farmugt.[?]

Dear God,
for joy, celebration, salvation, good tidings,
For all things good and prosperity
for prosperity, for prosperity for all of our lives.
So does our dear God possess.

Nemt der liber her Got dem bekher in zayn rekhter hant
Un makht a brukhe ibern gantsn land.
Makht a brukhe gur zhe hoykh
Az kol-yisruls kinder zoln zhe zogn umeyn oykh.

So our dear God takes the goblet in his right hand
And makes a blessing over the whole land.
Says a blessing very loudly
So that all of Israel’s children will say “Amen” too.

Umeyn, veumeyn, s’zol shoyn vern,
zol men shoyn oysgelayzt vern,
Bar [gor?] gikh in dem yor.

Amen, and amen, may we soon hear.
How we will be redeemed.
Soon in this very year.

Shma kolayni – ikh shray tsu dir,
lebediker Got, nu, helf zhe mir,
Ales bayz zol fin indz avekgeyn.

Listen to our voice – I shout to you
The living God, help me,
so that all bad things should go away.

Elye hanuvi, Elye hanuvi
zol bayn undz in indzer
hoyz aybik zayn,
Tse deym lekhtikn hoyz.
Me zol hofn
az tir un toyer zoln shtayn aybik ofn.

Elijah the prophet, Elijah the prophet
May he be in our house.
To the brilliant house,
May we hope
That door and gate should always stay open.

Ofn, ofn zoln shtayn,
Arayn, arayn zoln mir gayn.
Arayn, arayn zoln mir tritn [treytn]
mir zoln hubn dem lekhtikn Got [= hofn tsum likhtikn Got?]
A gite vokh,
A gezinte vokh,
A mazldike vokh.
A frayerdike vokh. [fraydike?]
A gebentshte vokh.
Mir zoln hubn a git mazl oysgebeytn.

Open, open may it stay,
Enter, enter may we go.
Enter, enter may we step.
May we have the brilliant God.
A good week
A healthy week
A happy week
A blessed week
May our prayers for a good fortune be accepted.

גאָט פֿון אַבֿרהם

נוסח פֿון מאַטעלע פֿרידמאַן
רעקאָרדירט פֿון מאיר דוד, לאָס־אַנדזשעלעס
טראַנסקריבירט פֿון אליעזר ניבאָרסקי

,גאָט פֿון אַבֿרהם, פֿון יצחק, פֿון יעקבֿ
.באַהיט דײַן ליב פֿאָלק ישׂראל
.זיבן טעג און אַלע טעג זאָלן אונדז ווויל באַקומען
.פֿורס [?] צו געווין, צו לעבן, צו עושר, צו מזל, צו ברכה, צו פּרנסה

,רבונו־של־עולם
,צו שׂשׂון, צו שׂימחה, צו ישועות־טובֿות, צו בשׂורות־טובֿות
.צום אַלעם גוטן און צו געווינט
צו געווין, צו געווין, צו לאַנגע לעבעטאָג  [= לעבנסטאָג?]
.האָט דער ליבער הער גאָט פֿיל פֿאַרמאָגט

נעמט דער ליבער הער גאָט דעם בעכער אין זײַן רעכטער האַנט
.און מאַכט אַ ברכה איבערן גאַנצן לאַנד
מאַכט אַ ברכה גאָר זשע הויך
.אַז כּל־ישׂראלס קינדער זאָלן זשע זאָגן אָמן אויך

,אָמן־ואָמן
,ס׳זאָל שוין ווערן, זאָל מען שוין אויסגעלייזט ווערן
,באַר [גאָר?] גיך אין דעם יאָר

,שמע קולנו — איך שרײַ צו דיר
,לעבעדיקער גאָט, נו העלף זשע מיר
,אַלעס בייז זאָל פֿון אונדז אַוועקגיין

,אליה הנבֿיא
,אליה הנבֿיא זאָל בײַן אונדז אין אונדזער הויז אייביק זײַן
.צו דעם ליכטיקן הויז
מע זאָל האָפֿן
,אַז טיר און טויער זאָלן שטיין אייביק אָפֿן

,אָפֿן, אָפֿן [זאָלן] זיי שטיין
,אַרײַן, אַרײַן זאָלן מיר גיין
,אַרײַן, אַרײַן זאָלן מיר טרעטן
מיר זאָלן האָבן דעם ליכטיקן גאָט.    [= האָפֿן צום ליכטיקן גאָט ?]
,אַ גוטע וואָך
,אַ געזונטע וואָך
,אַ מזלדיקע וואָך
,אַ פֿריידיקע וואָך
,אַ געבענטשטע וואָך
.מיר זאָלן האָבן אַ גוט מזל אויסגעבעטן

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is the second “Got fun/fin Avrom/Avrum”, a woman’s prayer said at the end of the Sabbath, that we have posted. It is also the second post on this blog of the singer Matele Friedman (born in 1927, in Kimyat, Czechoslovakia, now Velikiye Komyaty, Ukraine), who died in Los Angeles, February 2022. You can hear more of her songs in Yiddish at the website of Mark David’s radio program The Yiddish Voice/Dos Yidishe Kol.  

Mark David who recorded Matele Friedman in LA wrote the following after her passing:

She was, like my aunt Hedy and my mom, a survivor of Auschwitz from the Carpathians, deported in 1944 under the Hungarians.  But she lived a very different life compared to my mother after the war. She did not spend a few years in a DP camp in Germany or elsewhere in Western Europe after the war, but instead went back to the home area. She was a lot more frum, and practiced, surprisingly, orthodox Judaism under the Soviets when “our” area became part of Ukrainian SSR (Soviet Union).  (She had gone back after the war, gotten married, and started her family there.) She moved to the US in the 1970’s with her two young daughters, already teen-agers or a maybe a bit older.

In Noyekh Prilutski’s first collection of Yiddish folksongs Yidishe folkslider, 1912, which included religious and holiday songs, he printed 23 versions of this prayer. Here is the link to the first of the variations, song number 8.

Because the “Got fun Avrum” prayer was transmitted orally, the daughters often learned the prayer from their mothers as just sounds, not thinking what the words were or meant to be. As a result, a few words in this version cannot be understood and there are more question marks in the transcription in this post than we would ordinarily like. Eliezer Niborski did a wonderful job of transcribing Matele’s “Got fin Avrum” as best as possible. Corrections or improvements are welcome from those with sharper hearing. There are at least two more recordings of “Got fun Avrom” that we hope to post in the future. The “Got fun Avrom” prayer is the most widespread and among the oldest examples still extant of Yiddish woman’s folk poetry. A “standard” version can be found in the Art Scroll siddur and a scan is attached.

Thanks to Mark David, Eliezer Niborski, Simon Neuberg, Claudia Rosenzweig and David Braun.

Below: Art Scroll version of “Got fun Avrom”.

“Seyder nakht (Di fentster, zey lakhtn)” Performed by Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2022 by yiddishsong

Seyder nakht (Di fentster, zey lakhtn) / Seder Night (The Windows Illuminate)
A Passover song from the American Folkshuls. Words: Naftoli Gross. Music: Mikhl Gelbart. Sung and recorded April 12,  2022 by Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath, Teaneck New Jersey

Naftoli Gross (1896-1956)

Di fentster zey lakhtn mit yontif in blendn.
Di tishn – mit gildene koyses in kares,
koyses in kares.
Di shtiber – mit kinder in vinder-legendn.
Zey zingen – fin gur ale vinklen in shpares.
vinklen in shpares

The windows illuminate with festival and dazzle.
The tables – with golden goblets and seder plates
goblets and seder plates
The homes – with children and wonder legends,
they sing from every corner and crevice,
corner and crevice.

Di tirn fin shtiber, zey shteyen breyt ofn.
Ver s’darf zol hant kimen tsi indz un zol esn,
kimen in zol esn.
Di kindershe oygn mit yontif in hofn.
Eliyohu vet kimen in keynem fargesn,
keynem fargesn.

The doors of homes are wide open.
Whoever needs to, should come to us and eat,
come and eat.
The childlike eyes with holiday and hope,
Elijah should come and forget no one,
Forget no one.

COMMENTARY by Itzik Gottesman

This song entitled “Seyder nakht”, with words by Naftoli Gross (1896-1956) and music by Mikhl Gelbart (1889 – 1962) was published in 1948. It was sung at the beginning of the Workman’s Circle and Sholem Aleichem folkshuls’ seders in the 1960s and probably earlier. Since I could find no recording of the song, I asked Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath, who remembered it from Sholem Aleichem Shul #21 in the Bronx to record it.

Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath is a Yiddish poet and the chair of the League for Yiddish in New York City. Below the song as published in the Sholem Aleichem folkshul Passover Haggadah, circa 1968:

“Di shteytishe meydelekh” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2022 by yiddishsong

Di shteytishe meydelekh [kh’bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd]
The City Girls (I Was Born a Country Girl)

Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman. Recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NYC

Jewish girl from village outside of Zagreb, courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Di shteytishe meydalekh geyen shpatsirn
Zey geyen geuremt mit sheyne kavelirn.
In der puder aleyn
Er makht zey di bekelekh sheyn.

The city girls go for a walk.
They’re arm in arm with handsome suitors.
And just the powder
makes their cheeks pretty.

Ikh veyn in klug. Ikh ver nisht mid.
Keyner hert mayn veynen nit.
Of mir iz nebekh a noyt.
Kh’bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd.

I cry and lament. I don’t get tired.
No one hears my weeping.
I have, alas, a fault:
I was born a country [village] girl.

Di shteytishe meydelekh trugn zikh net.
Zey libn nisht keyn yidn; nor ales kadet.
Nor af mir, iz nebekh aza noyt.
Kh’bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd.

The city girls are so elegant.
They don’t love Jews, only cadets.
But alas, I have a fault –
I was born a country girl.

Ikh veyn in klug, Ikh ver nisht mid.
Keyner hert mayn veynen nit.
Oyf mir iz aza noyt.
Ikh bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd.

I cry and lament. I do not tire.
No one hears my weeping.
I have, alas, this fault –
I was born a country girl.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

I could not find this song in any collection and it is not found in the play “Dos dorfs meydl” by Perlmutter and Wohl. It is probably from an old Yiddish musical play but whether the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman learned it growing up in Bukovina, or in NYC when she was living there from 1908 to 1914 is not clear (she went back to Europe in 1914, and did not return to live in the US until 1951).

די שטעטישע מיידלעך
איך בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿמויד

געזונגען פֿון ליפֿשע שעכטער־ווידמאַן

.די שטעטישע מיידעלעך גייען שפּאַצירן
.זיי גייען געאָרעמט מיט שיינע קאַוואַלירן
,און דער פּודער אַליין
.ער מאַכט זיי די בעקעלעך שיי

.איך וויין און קלאָג; איך ווער נישט מיד
.קיינער הערט מײַן וויינען ניט
.אויף מיר איז נעבעך אַ נויט
.כ’בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמויד

.די שטעטישע מיידעלעך טראָגן זיך נעט
.זיי ליבן נישט קיין ייִדן, נאַר אַלעס קאַדעט
.נאָר אויף מיר איז נעבעך אַזאַ נויט
.כ’בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמו

.איך וויין און קלאָג, אן ווער נישט מיד
.קיינער הערט מײַן וויינען ניט
.אויף מיר איז נעבעך אַ נויט
.כ’בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמוי

.איך וויין און קלאָג, איך ווער נישט מיד
.קיינער הערט מײַן וויינען ניט
.אויף מיר איז אַזאַ נויט
.איך בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמויד

“Za górami, za lasami/Inter di berglekh” Performed by Sara Rosen

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2022 by yiddishsong

Za górami, za lasami / Inter di berglekh
A Macaronic Polish Yiddish dance song sung by Sara Rosen. Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, 1989. NYC photo.

Dancing a Polka
Spelled in PolishEnglish translation
Za górami, za lasami, Tańcowała Małgorzatka z Góralami. Tańcowała Małgorzatka z Góralami.
Przyszedł ojciec, przyszła matka, Chodź do domu, chodź do domu, Małgorzatka! Chodź do domu, chodź do domu, Małgorzatka!
Ja nie pójdę. Idźcie sami! Ja tu będę tańcowała z Góralami. Ja tu będę tańcowała z Góralami.
I nie poszła.  I została.Tańcowała z Góralami. Aż do rana. Tańcowała z Góralami Aż do rana.
Over, beyond mountains and forests, Margaret danced with the Highlanders (click here info on Polish Highlanders).
Father came, and mother came. Come home, Margaret!
I won’t go. Go by yourselves! I’ll dance here with the Highlanders.
And she didn’t go. Instead she stayed. She danced until dawn with the Highlanders.

Yiddish words:
(H)Inter di berglekh, (H) inter di felde
hot getantsn Malke-Zlata mit di zelners.

[talks]

Behind the hills, behind the fields,
danced Malke-Zlata with the soldiers

Gekimen di mame, gekimen der tate
“Kim ahaym, kim ahaym Malke-Zlate”

Her mother came, her father came,
“Come home, come home, Malke-Zlate”

“Ikh vil nisht gayn, gayts aleyn.
Ikh vil du tantsn, ikh vil du hotsken mit Dragayn.”

“I don’t want to go, go by yourselves.
I want to dance, i want to with the Dragoons.”

Iz zi nisht geganen, iz es geblibn. 
Z’hot getantsn, z’hot gehotsket biz a zeyer zibn. 

So she didn’t go and it stayed the same.
She danced and shook till seven o’clock. 

הינטער די בערגלעך, הינטער די פֿעלדער
.האָט געטאַנצן מלכּה־זלאַטע מיט די זעלנערס
,געקומען די מאַמע, געקומען דער טאַטע
„.קום אַהיים, קום אַהיים מלכּה־זלאַטע”
„איך וויל נישט גיין, גייט אַליין”
“.איך וויל דאָ טאַנצן, איך וויל דאָ האָצקען מיט דראַגײַן”
.איז זי נישט געגאַנגען, איז עס געבליבן
.ז’האָט געטאַנצן, ז’האָט געהאָצקעט ביז אַ זייגער זיבן

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The old Polish folksong “Małgorzatka” also known as ” Za górami” is well known. Less known is this macaronic version with Polish and Yiddish. Sara Rosen, born in Krakow, sings it in a polka rhythm. According to Polish music websites, the song in Polish has roots going back to the 16th century and might have started out as a beggar’s song. A Polish website with many versions in Polish can be found here, and additional information on the song is at this Polish website.

Gila Flam, director of the Music Department of the Jewish National and University Library, recorded a Lodz ghetto adaptation written in Polish by Miriam Harel. She discusses the song in her work Singing for Survival: Songs of the Lodz Ghetto 1940-1945, pages 121-22. Here is the recording:

Thanks to: Polish singer and researcher Mariza Nawrocka for information and the links to the Polish song; to Gila Flam for her recording; to Paula Teitelbaum who printed the words in Polish and the translation from the Polish. Also thanks to Karolina Koprowska. 

“Ikh bin a blekher” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2022 by yiddishsong

Ikh bin a blekher / I am a Roofer (Tinsmith)
A children’s song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn NY 1954

ikh bin a blekher                                        I am a roofer (tinsmith)
Ekh krikh af ale dekher                              I crawl on all the roofs.
A kestl blekh arifgetrugn,                          I carried up a box of tin.
ungeklopt in ungeshlugn.                Banged and hammered in.     
Ekh bin oysgefurn a velt.                 I’ve traveled around the world.
ikh hob nisht keyn groshn gelt.               I don’t have one penny.  

Spoken (by her son Mordkhe Schaechter):
S’iz a kinderlidl.
It’s a children’s song.

.איך בין אַ בלעכער
.איך קריך אויף אַלע דעכער
,אַ קעסטל בלעך אַרויפֿגעטראָגן
.אָנגעקלאַפּט און אָנגעשלאָגן
.איך בין אויסגעפֿאָרן אַ וועלט
.איך האָב נישט קיין גראָשן געלט
(גערעדט פֿון מרדכי שעכטער)  „ס’איז אַ קינדערליד”

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In the Yiddish dictionaries “blekher” is translated as “tinsmith”, but the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) uses the word, and not just in this song, to also mean “roofer”, fixing roofs made of tin. Children’s songs that mock the poverty of the tradesman abound in Yiddish and LSW also sang a song about a cobbler with no shoes for himself (“Ikh bin a shisterl”).

¨Dremlender yingele¨ Performed by Ita Taub

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2022 by yiddishsong

Dremlender yingele / Dozing Boy
Sung by Ita Taub. Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Circle Lodge, Hopewell Junction, NY, 1987.
Words by H. Leivick, music by Mikhl Gelbart. 

Dremlinder yingele, yingele mayn,
kukt nit tsu mir in di oygn arayn.
Tifer in tifer in shlof grob zikh ayn.
Dremlinder yingele, yingele mayn,
Dremlinder yingele, yingele mayn.

Dozing boy, my boy,
Don’t look me in the eyes.
Deeper and deeper fall into your sleep,
Dozing boy, my boy.
Dozing boy, my boy.

Ikh bin geshtorbn un zey durkhn toyt
vi du, gor mayn ershter, der letster fargeyt.
Iz dir bashert gur der letster tsu zayn?
Dremlinder yingele, yingele mayn,
Dremlinder yingele, yingele mayn.

I died and see through death
how you, though my first, is the last to go down.
Are you really fated to be the last?
[ in original poem: “Have you been sentenced (farmishpet) to be the last”]
Dozing boy, my boy.
Dozing boy, my boy.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

Ita Taub sings the first four verses of a seven verse poem written by the poet H. Leivick (Leyvik Halpern, 1888 – 1962). The complete poem “Dremlender yingele“ can be found in Leivick’s third volume of collected poetry “In Keynems land” (Warsaw, 1923). A scan of the poem is attached below.

I am not aware of any recording of Taub’s version with this melody of the poem. A version composed by the cantor Pinchos Jassinowsky was recorded by Sidor Belarsky on a 78rpm record. Sima Miller and Leon Lishner also recorded the song with Jassinowsky’s melody.

Chana and Yosl Mlotek in their folksong column in the Forverts newspaper “Leyner dermonen zikh lider”, June 3, 1987, print the words to the song and write that Mikhl Gelbart was the composer, not mentioning Jassinowsky. So it is fair to assume that Taub’s melody is the one to which they are referring, though I have yet to find it in Gelbart’s numerous publications.

You can hear the poet H. Leivick reciting the poem here:

Special thanks this week to Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound Archives and to Cantor Sharon Bernstein.

דרעמלנדער ייִנגעלע

ווערטער: ה. לייוויק.   מוזיק: מיכל געלבאַרט
געזונגען פֿון איטע טאַוב

.דרעמלנדער ייִנגעלע, ייִנגעלע מײַן
.קוק ניט צו מיר אין די אויגן אַרײַן
.טיפֿער און טיפֿער אין שלאָף גראָב זיך אײַן
.דרעמלנדער ייִנגעלע, ייִנגעלע מײַן
.דרעמלנדער ייִנגעלע, ייִנגעלע מײַן

איך בין געשטאָרבן און זע דורכן טויט
.ווי דו, גאָר מײַן ערשטער, דער לעצטער פֿאַרגייט
?איז דיר באַשערט גאָר דער לעצטער צו זײַן
.דרעמלנדער ייִנגעלע, ייִנגעלע מײַן
.דרעמלנדער ייִנגעלע, ייִנגעלע מײַן

From H. Leivick’s “In Keynems land” (Warsaw, 1923):

“Dus kind fun keynem nisht” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2022 by yiddishsong

Dus kind fun keynem nisht / No One’s Child
A Holocaust adaptation of a Romanian song. Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG]. Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx 1991.

Anny (Hubner) Andermann poses with a group of orphans whom she helped to have repatriated from Transnistria.
Archive of the United States Holocaust Memorial Musuem

BSG speaks: “Dus iz geven a Rumeynish lid in du zey ikh, az mir hobn gehat a yidishe versye.”
Vi heyst es af Rumeynish?
This was a Romanian song and here [in the notebook] I see that there was a Yiddish version. 

IG: How is it called in Romanian?
BSG sings in Romanian:

Copil sărac, al cui ești tu,
Al cui ești tu pe-acest pământ?
Tu ești copilul nimănui,
Al nimănui pe-acest pământ.

Poor child, whose are you,
Whose are you on this earth?
You are no one’s child,
No one’s on this earth.

BSG speaks: S’iz a lid veygn an urem kind Vus hot…
S’a yusem vus hot keynem nisht of der erd.

Spoken: It’s a song about a poor child, who has…
It’s an orphan who has no one in this world.

BSG sings:

Di urem kind mit shvartse hur.
Mit shvartse oygn zug mir gur.
Far vus dertseylsti yeydn yid,
Az di bist dus kind fun keynem nisht?

You poor child with blck hair
With black eyes, tell me:
Why do you tell every Jew/every one
That you are no one’s child?

“A sakh trern hob ikh fargosn,
Mayn mamenyu hot men geshosn.
Zi iz geshtorbn af deym ort.
‘Mayn tokhter’ var ir letse vort.

Many tears have I spilled,
My mother was shot.
She died on the spot.
‘My daughter’ were her last words”

BSG – Spoken = S’iz a ponim fin Transnistra.
It appears to be about Transnistria.

Mayn tatenyu hob ikh farloyrn.
Far kelt in hinger iz er ayngefrorn
Tsu shtarbn var zayn biter loz [German = los]
In an Ukrainer kolkhoz.

I lost my dear father.
From cold and hunger he froze.
To die was his bitter fate
In a Ukrainian kolkhoz. [ Soviet collective farm]

Ikh hob bagrubn mane libe.
Elnt aleyn bin ikh farblibn.
Men lozt mikh filn af yedn shrit:
az ikh bin dus kind fun keynem nit.

I buried my dear ones.
Alone, lonely I remained.
At every step people let me feel
that I am no one’s child.

BSG – “S’iz a versye vus me hot gemakht in Transnistria ober mit a sakh daytshmerizmen.”
 “It’s a version that was created in Transnistria but with many Germanisms. “

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

We’re posting this song in conjunction with the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2022. As noted in an earlier post, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman wrote down in a notebook lyrics to songs she heard in the Displaced Persons camp in Vienna, 1947 – 1951. I asked her to sing some of those songs in 1991. 

Bret Werb, musicologist at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. writes (via correspondence on email) about the Romanian song:

“The Romanian title is ‘Sînt copil al nimănui’ otherwise ‘Copil al nimănui’ otherwise ‘Cîntec de orfan’; the full lyric appears here, 

www.carpbarlad.org/files/reviste/viatanoastra_12.pdf (p 19, righthand side). 

As you’ll see it’s similar to the Yiddish version.  The song was collected as “folklore” in 1972 from informant Gheorghe Cazacu of Costeşti village, Cotovschi district (the field recording is part of the Gleb Ciaicovschi-Mereşanu Collection, National Archive of the Republic of Moldova). 

Thanks to Sandra Layman for transcribing and translating the Romanian verse. Thanks to Bret Werb for the information. Thanks to Carol Freeman, Paul Gifford, Joel Rubin, Suzanne Schwimmer and their friends who helped look for information on the Romanian song.

,דו אָרעם קינד מיט שוואַרצע האָר
.מיט שוואַרצע אויגן זאָג מיר גאָר
,פֿאַר וואָס דערציילסטו יעדן ייִד
?דו ביסט דאָס קינד פֿון קיינעם ניט

.אַ סך טרערן האָב איך פֿאַרגאָסן
.מײַן מאַמעניו האָט מען געשאָסן
.זי איז געשטאָרבן אויף דעם אָרט
.”מײַן טאָכטער” וואַר איר לעצטע וואָרט

ביילע (רעדט):  ס’איז אַ פּנים פֿון טראַנסניסטריע

.מײַן טאַטעניו האָב איך פֿאַרלוירן
.פֿאַר קעלט און הונגער איז ער אײַנגעפֿרוירן
,צו שטאַרבן וואַר זײַן ביטער לאָז
.אין אַן אוקראַיִנער קאָלכאָז

.איך האָב באַגראָבן מײַנע ליבע
.עלנט, אַליין ביך איך פֿאַרבליבן
:מען לאָזט מיך פֿילן אויף יעדן שריט
.איך בין דאָס קינד פֿון קיינעם ניט

.ביילע: ס’איז אַ ווערסיע וואָס מע האָט געמאַכט אין טראַנסניסטריע אָבער מיט אַ סך דײַטשמעריזמען

“Der yold iz mir mekane” An Underworld Song Performed by Yetta Seidman

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Der yold iz mir mekane / The fool envies me
A song from the Jewish underworld sung by Yetta Seidman
Recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore 1979, collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland

TRANSCRIPTION AND TRANSLATION 
(Yiddish transcription at the end of this post)

Der yold iz mir mekane. Der yold iz mir mekane.
Der yold iz mir mekane far mayn urem shtikele broyt.
Er vil fin gurnit visn, vi ikh ver oysgerisn
Es kimt mir un biter vi der toyt.

The sucker/fool/patsy envies me. The fool envies me.
The fool envies me because of my dismal piece of bread.
He doesn’t want to know how I suffer.
It is as hard for me as death.

Mayn mame in mayn tate, zey zenen geveyzn blate.
Fin kayn tsuris hob ikh bay zey keyn mol nit gevist.
Ven ikh bin gevorn elter, zenen zey gevorn kelter
in ganvenen hot zikh mir farglist.         

My mother and my father; they were in the underworld.
I did not know of any troubles with them.
When I got older, they became colder,
And I got the desire to steal.

Ikh gey aroys in market, in khap zikh tsi a pocket.
A mise-matn [mase-matn] hob ikh zikh dortn ungemakht.
Es kimt tsi geyn a yenta, in brengt mit zikh a mente
in in “Steyshun-hoyz” hot men mir gebrakht.

I go out into the market, and pick a pocket,
I committed a theft [literally – transaction]  over there.
A trouble-making woman comes over and brings with her a cop
and to the Station House I was brought.

In droysn geyt a reygn, in droysn geyt a reygn.
Se iz zikh shoyn ongefaln a kleyn bisele shney.
Ale mayne yurn in “prizin” upgezesn,
Az yeder eyver tit zikh mir shoyn vey.

Outside it’s raining; outside it’s raining.
A small bit of snow has already fallen
All of my years I spent in prison
So every part of me hurts.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

Probably the most popular of the Jewish underworld songs, there is an East European version and an American version. Seidman sings the American version which includes the English language words “market” “pocket” “station house” and “prison”.

Those words are not found in the East European version. But on both sides of the Atlantic the Yiddish underworld slang words are kept – “mente” (policeman), “blate” (criminal) “mase-matn” (a theft, a criminal act but literally “transaction”).

Image: M. Leizerowicz in the play “Motke Ganef” by Sholem Asch from the Yizkor (Memorial) Book of Piotrkow Trybunalski

The song often begins with the verse “In droysn geyt a regn mit a kleyn bisele shney” and for those grammarians out there – the first line is usually sung “Der yold iz mikh mekane”.

Another version of the song, with a slightly different melody can be heard in the YIVO Ruth Rubin archive. On this 78 rpm record Morris Goldstein sings the original (?) American version (1922):

The song is featured in the film “Image Before My Eyes” (1980) sung by Lillian (Leyele) Klempner. According to Lehman in his collection Ganovim-lider (1928), the song was written during the German occupation of WW1. Scans of Lehman’s version from Poland, words and music, are attached. Also see Jane Peppler’s comments on the song:

דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא
געזונגען פֿון יעטע זײַדמאַ

.דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא. דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא
.דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא מיט מײַן אָרעם שטיקעלע ברויט
.ער וויל פֿון גאָרניט וויסן, ווי איך ווער אָפּגעריסן
.עס קומט מיר אָן ביטער ווי דער טויט

.מײַן מאַמע און מײַן טאַטע, זיי זענען געוועזן בלאַטע
.פֿון קיין צרות האָב איך בײַ זיי קיין מאָל נישט געוווּסט
ווען איך בין געוואָרן עלטער, זענען זיי געוואָרן קעלטער
.און גנבֿענען האָט זיך מיר פֿאַרגלוס

.”איך גיי אַרויס אין “מאַרקעט” און כאַפּ זיך צו אַ “פּאַקעט
.אַ משׂא־מתּן האָב איך דאָרטן אָנגעמאַכט
עס קומט צו גיין אַ יענטע און ברענגט מיט זיך אַ מענטע
.און אין “סטיישאָן”־הויז האָט מען מיר געבראַכט

אין דרויסן גייט אַ רעגן, אין דרויסן גייט אַ רעגן
.אין דרויסן גייט אַ רעגן און סע איז זיך שוין אָנגעפֿאַלן אַ קליין ביסעלע שניי
אַלע מײַנע יאָרן אין “פּריזאָן” אָפּגעזעסן
.אַז יעדער אבֿר טוט זיך מיר שוין וויי

From Szmil Lehman, Ganovim lider : miṭ melodyes. Warsaw, 1928:

“Dus beymele shteyt in vald” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2022 by yiddishsong

Dus beymele shteyt in vald / The tree stands in the woods
A folklorized version of the Goldfaden song, “Elnt fun ale beymer vayt” sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman. Recorded by Leybl Kahn, New York City, 1954.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN
This is a folklorized version of the song “Elnt fun ale beymer vayt” from the Goldfaden operetta “Di kishifmakherin” also known as “Koldunye” (the witch), first performed in 1878.  It is sung by the young girl Mirele in the second act, first scene. A scan of the original Yiddish is attached from a New York edition of the play. 

The song presents an interesting case of folklorization, turning a theater song into a Yiddish orphan song, though with a hopeful ending which is atypical of Yiddish orphan songs. I have kept the false start and brief discussion afterwards with Leybl Kahn in which LSW says this song was learned in her hometown Zvinyetshke (now Ukraine).

Another folklorized version of this Goldfaden song was published in the second volume, Skuditski Folklor-lider, Moscow, 1936, p. 312, #52 (see screen shots attached below). There the song is extended with two new verses and keeps much more of the Goldfaden text than LSW’s.

Click here to listen to Frank Seiden singing a version of the original Goldfaden song, 1901, and click here to see the sheet music from the Library of Congress archive.

Dus beymele shteyt in vald
[False start]
Dus beymele shteyt in vald,
dus beymeledus beymele elnt, aleyn.
Azoy ikh nebekh yesoymele
In velt drey ekh mekh arim aleyn. 
Azoy ikh nebekh yesoymele
Drey zikh af der velt arim aleyn. 

The tree stands in the woods,
the tree, the tree all alone.
So I, alas, poor orphan,
Drift around this world alone

Dus beymele triknt ayn
in di bleter faln up.
 Zey faln gants arup. 
Azoy faln mayne trern. 
tse der naser erd arup, oy, arup. 
Azoy faln mayne trern. 
Tse der naser erd arup.

The tree dries up
and the leaves fall off.
They fall off completely.
So fall my tears to the wet ground.

Veyn nit in klug nit, yesoymele,
yesoymele, elnt, aleyn.
Es vet nokh blien dus beymele,
Dayn glikele vet nokh kimen tsi geyn.
Es vet nokh blien dus beymele,
Dayn glik vet nokh kimen tsu geyn.

Don’t cry and lament, dear orphan,
Orphan, alone and lonely.
The tree will once more blossom;
Your good fortune will return.


דאָס ביימעלע שטייט אין וואַלד,
דאָס ביימעלע, עלנט, אַליין
.אַזוי איך נעבעך יתומעלע
אין וועלט דריי איך מיך אַרום אַליין
.אַזוי איך נעבעל יתומעלע,
דריי זיך אויף דער וועלט אַרום אַליין.

דאָס ביימעלע טריקנט אײַן
און די בלעטער פֿאַלֹן אָפּ.
זיי פֿאַלן גאַנץ אַראָפּ.
אַזוי פֿאַלן מײַנע טרערן
צו דער נאַסער ערד אַראָפּ, אוי אַראָפּ.
אַזוי פֿאַלן מײַנע טרערןצו דער נאַסער ערד אַראָפּ.

וויין ניט און קלאָג ניט, יתומעלע,
יתומעלע, עלנט, אַליין
.עס וועט נאָך בליִען דאָס ביימעלע.
דײַן גליקעלע וועט נאָך קומען צו גיין.
עס וועט נאָך בליִען דאָס ביימעלע.
דײַן גליק וועט נאָך קומען צו גיין

From the New York edition of Goldfaden’s “Di kishifmakherin”:

Skuditski Folklor-lider, Moscow, 1936, p. 312, #52

Sheet music (from the Library of Congress, click here for LOC website):

“Tsen brider zenen mir geveyzn” Performed by Molly and Josef Lubelski

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Tsen brider zenen mir geveyzn / We were ten brothers
A Holocaust adaptation. Text by Israel Ashendorf. Sung by Molly and Josef Lubelski. Recorded by Abraham Lubelski, Bronx 1967

The Lubelski Troupe performing in a German D.P. camp

Transcription and Translation (Yiddish text after the commentary below)

Spoken by Josef Lubelski: “Tsen brider zenen mir geveyzn. An alt folkslid ibergearbet fun Ashendorf un Zigmund Taytlboym.”
“We Were Ten Brothers”, an old folksong adapted by Ashendorf and Zigmund Taytlboym

Tsen brider zenen mir geveyzn 
in frayd in in payn. 
Iz eyner gefaln inter Kutne
zenen mir geblibn nayn.

Ten brothers were we
in joy and in suffering.
When one of us fell near Kutne
we remained nine

Yidl mitn fidl, Berl mitn bas,
zingen aykh a lidl, oy, in mitn gas.
Yidl mitn fidl, Berl mitn bas.

Yidl and his fiddle, Berl and his bass
sing a song for you in the middle of the street.

Nayn brider zenen mir gevezn
yeder bay zayn mi in fakh.
Iz ayner gefaln inter Varshe
zenen mir geblibn akht. 

Nine brothers were we
we traded in cargo.
One fell in Warsaw
and eight remained.

Akht brider zenen mir geveyzn
tsezayt in tsetribn
farpaynikt eynem in Oshvyentshin [Oswiecim]
zenen mir geblibn zibn.

Eight brothers were we,
scattered and driven off.
One was tortured in Auschwitz
so seven remained.

Zibn brider zenen mir gevezn
in groylteg un in shrek. 
en eynem in Vin gehongen,
zenen mir geblibn zeks.

Seven brothers were we
in the days of horror and fear.
When one of us was hanged
we remained six.

Zeks brider zenen mir geveyzn
fartribn vayt in Krim. 
Iz eyner dortn imgekimen
zenen mir geblibn finf.

Six brothers were we
driven away to the Crimea.
When one of us died
we remained five.

Yidl mitn fidl, Berl mitn bas
zingen aykh a lidl, oy, in mitn gas.
Yidl mitn fidl.  Berl mitn bas

Yidl and his fiddle, Berl and his bass
sing a song for you in the middle of the street.
Yidl and his fiddle; Berl and his bass.

Finf brider zenen mir gevezn
un sonim un a shir. 
hot men eynem in Prag geshosn
zenen mir geblibn fir.

Five brothers were we
with countless enemies.
When they shot one in Prague
we remained four.

Fir brider zenen mir geveyzn 
in teyg fin bombes in blay. 
Iz eyner gefaln in Vilner geto
zenen mir geblibn dray. 

Four brothers were we
during days of bomb and lead.
One died in the Vilna ghetto,
leaving three

Dray brider zenen mir gevezn
eyner in der bafrayter armey.
iz er gefaln vi a held,
zenen mir geblibn tsvey.

Three brothers were we,
one in the liberated army.
He died a hero
and two were left.

In di tsvey ver zay zenen
vilt ir avade hern: 
Ayner fun zey is Yidl
in der tsveyter Berl. 

And who the two remaining are
you know of course:
one of them is Yidl
and the second one Berl.

Yidl mitn fidl. Berl mitn bas
zingen aykh a lidl,
nokh der tsayt fun mord un has.
Yidl mit dem fidl, Berl mitn bas.

Yidl with the fiddle, Berl with the bass
sing for you a song
in the time of death and hatred.
Yidl with his fiddle, Berl with his bass.

O-ho, o-ho, o-ho
o-ho o-ho o-ho
ho ho ho hoh hohhoho
hoh hoho hoho hohohoho

Zoln ale itstert hern,
un zoln ale visn
mir veln nokh vi frier shpiln
af khasenes un brisn.

Let everyone now hear,
let everyone should know:
we will still play for you as before
at weddings and circumcisions.

Oy veln mir nokh kindlen.
frukhtbarn zikh in mern, 
vi di zamd in yamen,
un oyf dem himl shtern. 

Oh will we have children,
be fruitful and multiply,
like the sand in the seas
and the stars in the sky.

Yidl mitn fidl. Berl mitn bas
Yidl with his fiddle. Berl with his bass.

Nor a kleyne bakushe 
hobn mir tsu aykh yidn.
in der heym gedenken
zolt ir undz in fridn.
 
Just a minor request
we ask of you all.
In your homes you should remember
us in peace.

A khasene, a simkhe
betn undz tsu gast. 
mikh –  yidl mit dem fidl
in mir [mikh] – Berl mitn bas 

For a wedding, a party
invite us as guests.
Me – yidl with his fiddle.
and me – Berl with his bass.

Oy, vet men in ayer hayzer 
gertner vet men flantsn. 
Vider vet men lider zingen
vider vet men tantstn.

O in your houses
gardens will be planted.
Once again we’ll sing songs,
once again we’ll dance.

oy, veln mir nokh shpiln,
vayzn vos mir kenen. 
Az far veytik veln platsn
di strunes in di sonim. 

O, will we play,
and show what we are capable of.
Let our enemies and music strings
explode out of pain [envy].

Yidl mitn fidl, Berl mitn bas. 
Yidl with his fiddle; Berl with his bass.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is the third song that our blog is presenting from the repertoire of Molly (Male/Minska) and Josef Lubelski who traveled to Displaced Persons (D.P.) camps in Germany after the war to perform songs, skits and recitations. For more on their biography see their previously posted songs.

Versions of the popular folksong “Tsen brider zenen mir geven”, upon which this version is adapted, can be found in the Ginzburg/Marek Collection of 1901 and a short history of the folksong, words and music, can be found in the Mlotek collection Perl fun der yidisher poezye, p. 121 (see scans below).

Itzik Manger used the refrain for his song “Yidl mitn fidl”.  In the Lubelski version, the music changes from the folk version when the number of brothers is reduced to two. The text at that point becomes more explicit on the plight and future of the Jews, rather than the demise of the brothers. Singer and compiler Shoshana Kalisch included a different Holocaust adaptation of “Tsen brider” in her collection of Holocaust songs –  Yes, We Sang! – with words and music.  One can hear that song at this link.

The author of this Lubelski version is Israel Ashendorf (1909 – 1956) but I could not find the text in his printed collections. In his introduction, Josef Lubelski mentions Sigmund Teytelboym as the musical adapter but I could not find any details on him. There is a 78 RPM recording of the Ashendorf song entitled “Yiddl [sic] mitn fidl” sung by I. Birnbaum and E. Zewinka, arranged by R. Solomon on the “Le Disque Folklorique Yiddish label”. There Ashendorf is credited as the author, spelled “Aschendorf”. A link to listen to the recording is here.

The Lubelski version is very close to the Birnbaum/Zewinka version but without instrumental accompaniment the Lubelski duo surely captures the sound and feeling closer to what the performance was like in the D.P. camps. One interesting change is that on the Birnbaum/Zevinka recording they sing “Royte armey” [Red army] and the Lubelskis sing “Bafrayte armey” [Liberated army]. Thanks this week to Alex Ashendorf, Abraham Lubelski for the recording and photo and to Eliezer Niborski for transcription help.