“Ikh bin oysgefurn di gantse velt” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2021 by yiddishsong

Ikh bin oysgefurn di gantse velt / I Traveled the Whole World Over
A love song from the 19th century sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW]
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954

TRANSLITERATION

LSW speaks: Fin mayn mamen a folkslid; dus iz shoyn…  Ekh hob ekh es gehert mit 60 yur.

Ikh bin oysgefurn a gantse velt.
Ikh ho’ gemeynt ikh vel eraykhn [erreichen]
dus greste glik.
Tse dir, tse dir mayn tayer zis leybm.
Tse dir hot mekh getsoygn tsurik.
Tse dir, tse dir mayn tayer zis leybm.
Tse dir hot mekh getsoygn tsurik.

Vi ‘zoy ken ikh dikh libn, vi ‘zoy ken ikh dikh ern.
Vi ‘zoy ken ikh dikh gants farshteyn?
Az di heyse libe, vus hot getin brenen,
Iz geloshn gevorn mit mayn geveyn.
Az di heyse libe vus hot getin brenen,
Iz geloshn gevorn mit mayn geveyn.

[alternate second verse as remembered by her daughter Beyle Schaechter Gottesman]]

Vi ken ikh dikh libn, vi ken ikh dikh shetshn
Vi ken ikh dekh den ern?
Az di heyse libe vus hot getin brenen,
Is ousgeloshn mit mayne trern]

TRANSLATION

LSW speaks: A folksong from my mother. I heard it 60 years ago.

I traveled the whole world over,
I thought I would attain the happiest joy.
To you, to you, my dear, sweet love [literally: life]
To you, I was drawn to return.
To you, to you, my dear, sweet love
To you, I was drawn to return.

How can I love you? How can I honor you,
How can I understand you completely,
when the passionate love that burned
was extinguished with my tears.

[alternate 2nd verse]

How can I love you, how can I appreciate you,
How can I honor you?
when the passionate love that burned
was extinguished with my tears.

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman with her grandchildren, Itzik and Hyam Gottesman

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I have not found any variants of this beautiful lovesong that LSW remembers from the 1890s. She says that her mother Tobe knew about 30 songs but once Tobe’s husband died young, she was not in the mood to sing. But when Lifshe heard her singing a tune to herself, she asked her to sing it to her.

.ליפֿשע רעדט:  אַ פֿאָלקסליד פֿון דער מאַמען. איך האָב עס געהערט מיט 69 יאָר

.איך בין אויסגעפֿאָרן אַ גאַנצע וועלט
.איך האָב געמיינט איך וועל ערײַכן דאָס גרויסע גליק
.צו דיר, צו דיר מײַן טײַער זיס לעבן
.צו דיר, האָט מיך געצויגן צוריק

?ווי קען איך דיך ליבן, ווי קען איך דיק ערן
?ווי קען איך דיך גאַנץ פֿאַרשטיין
אַז די הייסע ליבע וואָס האָט געטין ברענען
.איד געלאָשן געוואָרן מיט מײַן געוויין.

ליפֿשעס טאָכטער, ביילע שעכטער־גאָטעסמאַן האָט געדענקט אַן אַנדער צווייטע סטראָפֿע ־ 
?ווי קען איך דיך ליבן, ווי קען איך די שעצן
?ווי קען איך דיך דען ערן
,אַז די הייסע ליבע וואָס האָט געטין ברענען
.איז אויסגעלאָשן מיט מײַנע טרערן

“Es dremlt in geto” Performed by Sara Rosen

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2021 by yiddishsong

Es dremlt in geto / The ghetto is sleeping
A Holocaust song sung by Sara Rosen, recorded by Itzik Gottesman, 1989 NYC.

………[Es dremlt in geto]

Mir zenen farriglt
mit drut un mit krad.
Ikh hob a shtetele, 
s’iż azoy sheyn. 
Ven ikh derman mekh,
es benkt zikh aheym.

…….[The ghetto is sleeping.]

We are locked in 
with wire and with chalk.
I have a small town, 
it’s so beautiful.
When I think of it,
I long to go home. 

Levune, levune, 
vus kiksti mekh un?
Az ikh bin hingerik,
dus geyt dikh nisht un.
Ikh hob a shtetele, 
s’iz azoy sheyn.
Ven ikh derman mekh,
es benkt zikh aheym. 

Moon, moon, 
why are you looking at me?
That I am hungry: 
you don’t care.
I have a small town,
it’s so beautiful.
When I think of it,
I long to go home.

Az m’et kimen fin arbet,
hingerik in mid,
Ervart indz dus esn,
kartofl mit gris. 
Ikh hob a shtetele,
s’iż azoy sheyn 
Ven ikh derman zikh,
es benkt zikh aheym.

When we’ll come from work, 
hungry and tired,
Food awaits us:
potato and grits
I have a small town,
it’s so beautiful.
When I think of it,
I long to go home. 

………   [ עס דרעמלט אין געטאָ]

מיר זענען פֿאַרריגלט
.מיט דראָט און מיט קרײַד
,איך האָב אַ שטעטעלע
.ס’איז אַזוי שיין
,ווען איך דערמאַן זיך
.עס בענקט זיך אַהיים

,לבֿנה, לבֿנה
?וואָס קוקסטו מיך אָן
,אַז איך בין הונגעריק
.דאָס גייט דיך נישט אָן
,איך האָב אַ שטעטעלע
.ס’איז אַזוי שיין
,ווען איך דערמאַן זיך
.עס בענקט זיך אַהיים

,אַז מע’ט קומען פֿון דער אַרבעט
,הונגעריק און מיד
,ערוואַרט אונדז דאָס עסן
.קאַרטאָפֿל מיט גריס
,איך האָב אַ שטעטעלע
.ס’איז אַזוי שיין
,ווען איך דערמאַן זיך
.עס בענקט זיך אַהיים

Biography of the Singer Sara Rosen by Mickey Rosen:

Sara Landerer Rosen was born in Krakow, Poland in 1925 into a Chasidic family.  She experienced an idyllic childhood until September 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, initiating World War II. The war truncated Sara’s formal education at the end of eighth grade but it didn’t stop her thirst for learning. Sara took advantage of every opportunity available; in the ghetto, in British Mandate Palestine and later, in the State of Israel and finally in the USA. In 1977, Sara graduated from Fordham University with a BA in Philosophy.  

Sara Rosen

Sara was a prolific write, publishing her memoir My Lost World in 1993. In 2008, she published Prisoner of Memory, the life story of Itka Greenberg. Itka saved about 50 Jews during World War II, with Sara and her mother being two of the fortunate survivors. In between these two books, Sara translated the songs of Mordechai Gebirtig from Yiddish to English. Sara loved speaking and singing in Yiddish and remembered many of poems and songs from her youth.

Sara emigrated to the USA in 1956 with her husband, Joseph and two sons. Her family grew in the USA with the birth of a daughter. 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

Es dremlt in shtetl

This song is a Holocaust adaptation of the popular 1920s-30s song “Ven es dremlt in shtetl” (also known as “Es dremlt/drimlt dos shtetl” or “Es dremlt dos shtetl”); text written by Yoysef Heftman (1888 – 1955), music by Gershon Eskman. There are several recordings of this song, among them by Sarah Gorby, Michele Tauber, Willi Brill, Violette Szmajer, Sheh-Sheh, Zahava Seewald. Here is a link to a recording by the singer Rebecca Kaplan and tsimbler Pete Rushefsky from their CD On The Paths: Yiddish Songs with Tsimbl.

Ruth Rubin recorded a version from a “Mrs. Hirshberg” in 1947. It is called “Es dremlt a shtetele” and here is the link to the song in the Ruth Rubin Legacy: Archive of Yiddish Folksongs at the YIVO Institute. 

Es dremlt in turme

Before the war, there already was a “parody” version of this song about languishing in prison. “Es dremlt in turme” [The prison is sleeping]. The words and music are printed in the “Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs” edited by Sinai Leichter, scans of this song are attached.

Ruth Rubin sings a version of this prison song in YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive.

Es dremlt in geto

Sara Rosen learned this song in Bucharest after she escaped from the Bochnia ghetto near Krakow. Though she forgets the first two lines, it is cleary an adaptation of “Es dremlt in shtetl”. There are several versions of this song using the same melody, but they all differ so significantly from each other, that to call them versions of the same song is a stretch. Meir Noy wrote down a version “Shtil is in geto” in his notebooks that can be found in the National Library in Jerusalem. Another version can be found in the collection “Dos lid fun geto: zamlung” edited by Ruta Pups, Warsaw, 1962. A scan of this version is attached. A third version was printed in the collection “We Are Here: Songs of the Holocaust”, edited by Eleanor G. Mlotek et al, 1983.

Special thanks for this post to Mickey Rosen, Rachel Rosen, Michael Alpert, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, her grandchildren the musicians Benjy Fox-Rosen, Avi Fox-Rosen.

I was introduced to Sara Rosen in 1989 by the Yiddish/Hebrew singer Tova Ronni z”l  (d. 2006) who lived in the same Upper West Side apartment building in NYC. That same day she introduced me to another singer in the building, David Shear, who sings “An ayznban a naye” on this blog. 

From Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs” edited by Sinai Leichter:

From Dos lid fun geto: zamlung, edited by Ruta Pups, Warsaw, 1962:

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman Performs “Ale meydelekh hobn khasene”

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2021 by yiddishsong

Ale meydelekh hobn khasene / All the Girls are Getting Married
A children’s song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954, NYC

TRANSLITERATION 

LSW’s son, Mordkhe Schaechter, introduces the song: “Nokh a kinderlid” – “Another children’s song.”

Ale meydelekh hobn khasene,
Eykh blab aleyn.
Oy, mame, s’iz avade
nit sheyn.

Tate, gey afn ben-zukher,
un kloyb mir oys a bukher.
Ale meydelekh hobn khasene.
Un eykh blab aleyn. 

TRANSLATION

All the girls are getting married.
I remain alone.
Oy, mame, of course
it’s not nice.

Father, go to the ben-zokher
and pick out a groom for me. 
All the girls are getting married.
And I remain alone. 

,אַלע מיידעלעך האָבן חתונה
.איך בלײַב אַליין
אוי, מאַמע, ס’איז אַוודאי
.ניט שיין

 טאַטע, גיי אויפֿן בן־זכר
.און קלויב מיר אויס אַ בחור
.אַלע מיידעלעך האָבן חתונה
.און איך בלײַב אַליין

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman 

The third line of this short children’s song was difficult to understand, but thanks to Yiddish teacher and researcher Eliezer Niborski, I believe we have the complete correct version. 

A ben-zokher (“zukher” in LSW’s dialect) is a ritual on the Friday night following the birth of a boy. At the home of the new born, the parents serve guests and relatives wine and fruit. The phrase “ben zokher” is from Jeremiah 20:15. See Hayyim Schauss’ description of the tradition in his work The Lifetime of a Jew.

“Wedding” by Issachar Ber Ryback, c. 1930

Niborski also found the ben-zokher – bokher rhyme in two other sources. One in a children’s song that Ruth Rubin sings, “Tate, tate, gey afn ben-zukher”, as heard at YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive. The second he found in the essay by I. L. Peretz “Dos yidishe lebn loytn yidishn folkslid” (“Jewish Life as Depicted in Yiddish Folksong”)

Special thanks to Eliezer Niborski and the Ruth Rubin Archive at the YIVO Sound Archive. 

“Mit eyn un zekhtsik yor tsurik” Performed by Mimi (Simon) Forman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2021 by yiddishsong

Mit eyn un zekhtsik yor tsurik/Sixty-One Years Ago
A Yiddish birthday song sung by Mimi (Simon) Forman
Recorded by David (Dovid) Forman in Ithaca, NY, on the occasion of his birthday. May 2, 2021

Photo: Mimi Simon at Camp Boiberik in her bunk with a friend.

Guest commentary by David R. (Dovid) Forman

This week’s song is simple and charming– an alternative to the Yiddish birthday song most readers will know. But unlike Tsu dayn gebortstog, by the famous Avrom Goldfaden, it is little known. In fact, this writer, grateful recipient of the performance posted here, does not know who authored the song or when.

Mimi Forman, born Miriam Simon, is the youngest child of the Yiddish writer Solomon Simon. Here she is singing to her youngest but not-very-young son at a small post-vaccinated birthday gathering in May, 2021. Mimi believed she’d learned the song at Camp Boiberik (a Yiddish culture camp near Rhinebeck, NY) because her birthday is in late July. She spent nearly every summer there starting from age five, in the kinderheym on the guest side, to age fourteen as a mitle elste camper. Her friend Phyllis Tobin, who was Phyllis Onheiber when she was at camp, confirmed this is a Boiberik song. It dates back at least to the 1940s.

TRANSLITERATION

Mit eyn un zekhtsik yor tsurik
In a guter sho,
hot Dovid ongezogt “helo! Helo!
Ikh bin shoyn do!”

Iz gut, iz gut, iz gut vos du bist do.
Tra-a-la-la-la-lal
Mir vintshn dir in khor
Tra-la –la –la-la
Biz hundert tsvantsik yor.

TRANSLATION

Sixty one years ago,
in a fortunate hour,
Dovid announced “Hello, hello
I am here!.”

So good, so good, so good that you are here.
Tra-la-la-la-la.
We wish you all together [literally: in a chorus]
Tra-la-la-la-la
A hundred and twenty years.

“Der internatsyonal” Performed by Martin Horowitz

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2021 by yiddishsong

Der internatsyonal / The International
Sung by Martin Horowitz, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, August 4, 1973, Baltimore, Maryland. 
From the collection of the Jewish Museum of Maryland

Der internatsyonal as sung by Martin Horowitz

Shteyt oyf ir ale ver nor shklafn
vos hunger laydn muz un noyt.
Der gayst er kokht un ruft tsum vafn
in shlakht undz firn iz er greyt.

Awaken you all who are slaves
who must suffer hunger and poverty.
The spirit boils and calls to arms
into battle it is ready to lead us.

Di velt fun gvaldtatn un laydn
tseshtern veln mir un dan.
Fun frayhayt, glakhheyt a gan-eydn,
bashafn vet der arbetsman.

This world of violence and suffering
will we destroy and then –
from freedom and equality
will we create a paradise.

Dos vet zayn shoyn der letster
un antshaydener shtrayt;
mit dem internatsyonal
shteyt oyf ir arbetslayt!

This will be the last
and decisive struggle,
with the International,
awake, all you workers!

,שטייט אויף איר אַלע ווער נאָר שקלאַפֿן
.וואָס הונגער לײַדן מוז און נויט
דער גײַסט, ער קאָכט און רופֿט צו וואָפֿן
.אין שלאַכט אונדז פֿירן איז ער גרייט

די וועלט פֿון גוואַלדטאַטן און לײַדן
צעשטערן וועלן מיר און דאַן ־ 
,פֿון פֿרײַהײַט, גלײַכהײַט אַ גן ־עדן
.באַשאַפֿן וועט דער אַרבעטסמאַן

דאָס וועט זײַן שוין דער לעצטער
.און אַנטשיידענער שטרײַט
מיט דעם אינטערנאַציאָנאַל
!שטייט אויף איר אַרבעטסלײַט

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

A couple of weeks late, but to commemorate May Day we present the Yiddish version of the song The International; words originally written in French by Eugene Pottier. The music by Pierre De Geyter was first performed in 1888. The “International” refers to the “First International”, an organization of workers that held a congress in 1864.

Judging by Martin Horowitz’s repertory as recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, he attended a Yiddish folkshul, probably a Workmen’s Circle socialist school where he learned many of his songs including this one.

Horowitz sings the International almost exactly as it appears in the collection Yidishe folks-lider, by Moshe Beregovski and Itzik Feffer. (Kiev, 1938, p. 3 – 5 and in Albert Biter’s collection Zing-a-lid: 60 arbeter un folks lider, (NY 1940, p. 5). Scans of both, words and music, are attached.

 A different version of The International by the poet H. Leivick appears in 1938-39, in the Workmen Circle songbook Lomir zingen appeared, edited by Mikhl Gelbart. Michael Alpert sings another version as translated by S. Ansky on the CD The Upword Flight: The musical world of S. Ansky.

Horowitz sings only the first third of the song and that is how it was mainly sung in Yiddish. The German Yiddish singer Karsten Troyke recorded the entire Yiddish version of the International as it appeared in Beregovski/Feffer: 

Below are versions published in Albert Biter’s collection Zing-a-lid: 60 arbeter un folks lider (NY, 1940) and Moshe Beregovski and Itzik Feffer’s Yidishe folks-lider (Kiev, 1938):

“Zay zhe mir gezint, zay zhe mir gezint” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2021 by yiddishsong

Zay zhe mir gezint, zay zhe mir gezint / Fare thee well, fare thee well.
A version of “Di goldene pave”, sung by Lifshe Schaecter-Widman (LSW), recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is LSW’s version of the old and popular song more commonly called “Di gildene/goldene pave”, the “Golden Peacock”. It seems that the song gave rise to the golden peacock as a symbol referring to Yiddish folksong and Yiddish artistic creativity in general. 

Illustration by Shirley Knoring

The peacock, needless to say, has been a cross-cultural symbol for millenia. On her blog “Jewish Folk Songs” Batya Fonda discusses the various interpretations of the golden peacock and has transcribed and translated into English a couple of versions of the Yiddish folksong.

In YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive collection, Mary Michaels sings a version, recorded in 1956. Click here to listen.

More recently, Ruth Levin, accompanied by Alexei Belousov on guitar sings it on her recording Atlandish (2019):

LSW’s version makes no mention of the gildene pave, but a bird does remain as the central character along with the unhappy daughter/daughter-in-law. The line about having one hand appears in no other versions, and seems to me to be improvised at the moment of performance. The verses about “shver un shviger’s kest” and “a shlekhtn man” appear in all versions. 

Interestingly, Moshe Beregovski pointed out the similarity of the melody of the song’s first line to a Ukrainian song (Old Jewish Folk Music, Slobin, p. 514) But LSW starts off the song with a different melody than other versions. 

 The song is included in many collections: to name a few with musical notation: Yidishe folks-lider, Beregovski and Fefer, 276-77; Die Schonsten Lieder Der OstJuden, Kaufmann, 80-81; Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies, vol. 9, Idelsohn, #33, page 12; Jewish Folksongs from the Baltics, Karnes, p. 20-21; Mir trogn a gezang, Mlotek, 106-107.Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive, Mlotek and Slobin, p. 45-46.; just text – Yidishe folkslider in rusland, Ginzburg and Marek, #264-265, p. 215 – 217

—————————————————

Zay zhe mir gezint
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Zay zhe mir gezint, zay zhe mir gezint
mayn tayere mame,
Ekh fur fin dir avek
Say es vet mir git zayn, say es vet mir
shlekht zayn
Kimen vel ekh mer nisht tsirik. 
Say es vet mir git zayn, say es vet mir
shlekht zayn
Kimen vel ekh mer nisht tsirik. 

Farewell, farewell, my dear mother.
I am going away.
Whether it will be good, whether it will be bad
I will not be coming back.

Azoy vi s’iz biter mayn mame, miter
A feygele oyf deym yam. 
A feygele oyf deym yam.
Azoy i’ dekh biter, mayn mame, miter,
az me hot a shlekhtn man.

Just as it is bitter mother dear,
for a bird over the sea,
so it is bitter mother dear
to have a cruel husband.

Azoy vi s’iz biter, mayn tayere miter,
a feygele in a fremd land.
a feygele in a fremd land.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
az m’ot nor eyn hant.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
az men hot nor eyn hant.

Just as it’s bitter dear mother
for a bird in a strange land,
so it is bitter mother dear,
when you have just one hand.

Azoy vi s’iz biter mayn tayere miter
a feygele un a neyst.
a feygele un a neyst.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
shver un shvigers kest.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
shver un shvigers kest.

Just as it’s bitter my dear mother
a bird without a nest,
so it is bitter my dear mother
to live with my in-laws. 

Zay mir gezint mayn tayere mame,
ikh fur fun dir avek. 
Say es vet mir git zayn,
say es vet mir shlekht zayn. 
ikh vel nit kimen tsirik.
Say es vet mir git zayn,
say es vet mir shlekht zayn. 
Ikh kim nit mer tsurik. 

Farewell, farewell my dear mother,
I am going away.
Whether it will go well for me, 
or go poorly,
I will not be coming back. 

,זײַ זשע מיר געזונט, זײַ זשע מיר געזונט
.מײַן טײַערע מאַמע, איך פֿאָר פֿון דיר אַוועק
,סײַ עס וועט מיר גוט גיין
,סײַ עס וועט מיר שלעכט גיין
.קומען וועל איך מער נישט צוריק

,אַזוי ווי ס’איז ביטער, מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.אַ פֿייגעלע אויף דעם ים, אַ פֿייגעלע אויף דעם ים
,אַזוי איז ביטער מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.אַז מע האָט אַ שלעכטן מאַן

,אַזוי ווי ס’איז ביטער, מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
,אַ פֿייגעלע אין אַ פֿרעמד לאַנד
,אַזוי איז ביטער מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.אַז מע האָט נאָר איין האַנט

,אַזוי ווי ס’איז ביטער, מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
,אַ פֿייגעלע אָן אַ נעסט
,אַזוי איז ביטער מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.שווער און שוויגערס קעסט

. מען האָט נאָר איין האַנט

,זײַ זשע מיר געזונט, זײַ זשע מיר געזונט
.מײַן טײַערע מאַמע, איך פֿאָר פֿון דיר אַוועק
,סײַ עס וועט מיר גוט גיין
,סײַ עס וועט מיר שלעכט גיין
.קומען וועל איך מער נישט צוריק

“Kinder kumt der friling ruft” Performed by Harry Mervis

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2021 by yiddishsong

Kinder kumt der friling ruft / Children come, Spring calls
Sung by Harry Mervis, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore, 1979. From the Jewish Museum of Maryland collection.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman and Peter Rushefsky

Jewish Museum of Maryland

Kinder kumt as sung by Harry Mervis. 

Kinder kumt, der friling ruft
Blo der himl, klor di luft.
Shmekn zis di frishe blumen
un di taykhlekh freylekh brumen.
Leyft [loyft] in frayen feld.

Children come, Spring calls.
Blue the sky, clear the air.
Smell the fresh flowers
and the rivers gaily roar.

Hert, di feygelekh zingen,
flien heykh [hoykh] un klingen,
Helft zey, kinderlekh, shpringen.
Leyft in frayen feld. 

Listen to the birds sing,
flying high and resound.
Help them, children, to jump.
Run in the open field.

Kinder yetst iz ayer tsayt,
S’iz sheyn bald nor gor nit vayt.  
Er makht gel di grine bleter
Er makht di zise bleter,  
azoy on a sof.          

Children now is your time.
It is soon not far. 
He makes the green leaves yellow. 
He makes the sweet leaves.
Thus without end.   

Kinder aylt zikh unter,
Zayt zikh freylekh, munter.
Vayl der langer vinter
varft af alemen a shlof.

Children hurry yourselves.
Be happy and brave
because the long winter
throws on everyone a slumber.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

The lyrics to the song are by Mordkhe Rivesman (1868 – 1924), the same author of such songs as “Haynt is Purim Brider” and “Khanike Oy Khanike”.  the melody is almost always referred to as “a folk melody”. The first printing of the song that I have found is in Z. Kisselgof’s  collectin Lider-zamlbukh far der yidisher shul un familye, 1912There it is called “Kinder kumt der friling ruft”. It was also called “Likhik iz Gots velt”. Yiddish music archivist Robert Freedman remembers singing this song in his Chaim Nakhman Bialik Folk Shul and from memoirs it is clear that the song was also popular in Zionist circles in Eastern Europe. 

Recently singer, composer and choir director Polina Shepherd has revived the song. She newly arranged and recorded the song with her London Yiddish Choir and Chutzpah choir. Here is a link to that performance.

Shepherd also printed the music and original words at this link.

The song was translated into Hebrew by the Israeli Yiddish scholar Dov Sadan and can be found at this link in the website Zemereshet. זמרשת

The original lyrics by Rivesman in Yiddish has been scanned form  Z. Kisselgof’s Lider-zamelbukh, St. Petersburg 1912 and are attached below.

We know of one recording of the song on the album Ilamay Handel Sings Portraits of Jewish Live in Song.

COMMENTARY ON THE MUSIC BY PETE RUSHEFSKY

The song uses a variant of a Hasidic-flavored melody recorded by Belf’s Romanian Ensemble for the Syrena record label as “Nakhes fun Kinder”. The melody was also recorded as part of a suite by the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia-based Lepiyansky Family of tsimbl (dulcimer) players and released on the Soviet MusTrust label.

Let’s take a closer look at the Belf version, which presents this beautiful melody in its fully-rendered form. The instrumental version of the piece is best known for its syncopated melodic gesture beginning with a rest on the first beat (a rhythmic device seen in many Hasidic nigunim):

However, the song version from Rivesman simplifies the melody, substituting four quarter notes for the first measure.

Composed in the freygish/Ahava Raba scale, the first section sets up the mode by emphasizing the first and then third degrees, repeating the phrases to create a sense of gravity. The second section switches to a call-and-response form to expand the melodic range to the fourth and fifth degrees, and hints at what will come in the final section with a quick reach up to the octave. Finally the third section lifts the melody to its climax (known in Arabic music as the “awj”) with three beats on the octave, initiating a lovely four-part walk down the freygish scale that continues into the mode’s subtonic range before resolving back up to the tonic.

There is an interesting difference between the Mervis version and the better-known version that Shepherd’s choir performs. The second section of Mervis’s version of “Kinder kumt” (starting with “Hert, di feygelekh zingen”) is reminiscent of the second section of the Belf “Nakhes fun Kinder”. In contrast, the second section of Shepherd jumps immediately up the octave like the third section of Belf. Perhaps Mervis (or whomever he learned his version from) was aware of the full melody ala Belf, and chose to sing it this way. Or possibly the variant is a result of confusion between the two melodies.

As I was contributing to this post, the wonderful Yiddish singer Eleonore Weill happened to be over giving my son Gabriel his weekly piano lesson. She graciously agreed to record herself performing the song on my iPhone (recorded April 6, 2021 in Brooklyn):

Lyrics by Rivesman published in Z. Kisselgof’s Lider-zamelbukh, St. Petersburg 1912:

“Eyns ver veyst” A Passover Song Performed by Dr. Thelma Borodkin

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2021 by yiddishsong

Eyns ver veyst? / Who Knows One?
A Passover song sung by Dr. Thelma Borodkin. Recorded by Dr. Hankus Netsky, 2021

Dr. Thelma Borodkin

Eyns ver veyst?                                  Who knows one?
Eyns, eyns, ikh, ikh veys.                   One, one, I, I know.
Ikh, ikh veys                                        I, I know                                  
Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.          One is God himself, is God himself.
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.    The Lord of heaven and earth, 

Tsvey ver veyst?                                       Two who knows?
Tsvey, tsvey, ikh, ikh veys.                        Two, two I , I know
Ikh, ikh veys                                               I, I know
Tsvey likhes.                                             Two tablets
Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.   One is God himself, is God himself.
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.          The Lord of heaven and earth,

Dray ver veyst?                                          Three who knows?
Dray, dray, ikh, ikh veys.                            Three, three I , I, know.
Ikh, ikh veys.                                              I, I know
Dray futers.                                                Three fathers [patriarchs]
Tsvey likhes.                                               Two tablets
Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.   One is God himself, is God himself.
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.   The Lord of heaven and earth.

Fir ver veyst?                                               Four who knows?
fir, fir  ikh, ikh veys.                                       Four, four I, I know.
Ikh, ikh veys.                                                 I, I know
Fir muters.                                            Four mothers [matriarchs]
Dray futers…..                                                Three fathers….etc.

Finef ver veyst?                                            Five how knows?
Finef, finef  ikh, ikh veys.                               Five, five I, I know
Ikh ikh veys                                                     I, I know
Finef khamushim fin der Toyre          Five books of Moses in the Torah
Fir muters….                                                  Four mothers…etc.            

Zeks ver veyst?                                      Six who knows?
Zeks, zeks  ikh, ikh veys.                        Six, six I, I know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                          I, I know.
Zeks mishnayes.                                     Six “orders” of the Mishnah.
Finef khamushim in der Toyre….             Five books of Moses in the Torah…etc.

Zibn ver veyst?                               Seven who knows?
Zibn, zibn. ikh, ikh veys.                 Seven, seven I, I know
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                  I, I know
Zibn teyg in der vokh.                    Seven days in the week
Zeks mishnayes…                          Six orders of the Mishnah...

Akht ver veyst?                            Eight who knows?
Akht, akht,  ikh, ikh veys.             Eight, eight, I, I, know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                 I, I know.
Akht teyg tsi der mile.                    Eight days to the bris
Zibn teg in der vokh…                    Seven days in the week….etc.

Nayn ver veyst?                               Nine who knows?
Nayn, nayn  ikh, ikh veys.               Nine, nine, 
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                   I, I know
Nayn khadoshim in deym trugn.      Nine months of pregnancy
Akht teyg tsi der mile…                     Eight days to the bris…etc

Tsen ver veyst?                                  Ten who knows?
Tsen, tsen,  ikh, ikh veys.                  Ten, ten, I, I know
Ikh, ikh veys.                                       I , I know
Tsen dibres.                                       Ten commandments
Nayn khadushim….                          Nine months to the pregnancy….etc.

Elef ver veyst?                              Eleven who knows?
Elef, elef,  ikh, ikh veys.               Eleven, eleven, I, I know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                 I, I know
Elef shtern in deym himl.            Eleven stars in the sky
Tsen dibres…                               Ten commandments….etc.   

Tsvelef ver veyst?                           Twelve who knows?
Tsvelf, tsvelf, ikh ikh veys.             Twelve, twelve I, I know.
ikh ikh veys.                                     I, I know.
Tsvelef shvotim, Twelve tribes
Elef shtern in deym himl…            Eleven starts in the sky…etc.

Draystn ver veyst?                          Thirteen who knows?
Draytsn, draytsn, ikh, ikh veys.     Thirteen, thirteen I, I know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                   I, I know.
Draytsn mides hot der Got.          Thirteen attributes has God 
Tsvelef shvotim…                          Twelve tribes….etc.

………….

Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.        One is God himself, God himself
Der har fun dem himl un fun der erd.  Master of heaven and earth
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.      Master of heaven and earth

Commentary by Hankus Netsky

Dr. Thelma Borodkin grew up on Hopkinson Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  Her parents came from Ukraine, her mother from Dnietopietrovsk and her father from Stara Constantine.  She remembers her mother singing constantly in Yiddish, Russian, Ukrainian and English while she worked, and her mother taught her a wide array of Yiddish Theatre songs that she heard at the nearby Hopkinson Theatre.  

Dr. Borodkin attended Jefferson High School and the local Hebrew Educational Society School.  She became fluent in Hebrew and made Aliyah twice.  She received her Ph.D in English and taught writing for twenty-three years at Lehman College.  Most recently (pre-pandemic), she taught a course on works by female Yiddish writers at Lester Senior Housing in New Jersey.  She remembers this wonderful and little-known Yiddish version of “Echod Mi Yodea” from her childhood family seders in Brooklyn, and her children and grandchildren keep the tradition going to the present day.

Thanks for this week’s post to Thelma Borodkin, Hankus Netsky and Arun Viswanath. 

?איינס ווער ווייסט
געזונגען פֿון  תּמר ד״ר באָראָדקין
רעקאָרדירט פֿון  ד״ר הענעך נעצקי, 2021

?איינס ווער ווייסט
איינס, איינס, איך, איך ווייס
איך, איך ווייס
.איינס איז גאָט אַליין, איז גאָט אַליין
.דער האַר פֿונעם הימל און פֿון דער ערד

?צוויי ווער ווייסט
.צוויי, צוויי, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
.צוויי לוחות
.איינס איז גאָט אַליין, איז גאָט אַליין
.דער האַר פֿונעם הימל און פֿון דער ערד

?דרײַ ווער ווייסט
.דרײַ, דרײַ, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
דרײַ פֿאָטערס
…צוויי לוחות

?פֿיר ווער ווייסט
.פֿיר, פֿיר איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,פֿיר מוטערס
…דרײַ פֿאָטערס

?פֿינעף ווער ווייסט
.פֿינעף, פֿינעף איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,פֿינעף חומשים אין דער תּורה
…פֿיר מוטערס

?זעקס ווער ווייסט
.זעקס, זעקס איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
זעקס משניות
…פֿינעף חומשים אין דער תּורה

?זיבן ווער ווייסט
.זיבן, זיבן איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
.זיבן טעג אין דער וואָך
…זעקס משניות

?אַכט ווער ווייסט
.אַכט, אַכט איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
אַכט טעג צו דער מילה
…זיבן טעג אין דער וואָך

?נײַן ווער ווייסט
.נײַן, נײַן איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
נײַן חדשים אין דעם טראָגן
…אַכט טעג צו דער מילה

?צען ווער ווייסט
.צען, צען איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
צען דיברות
…נײַן חדשים אין דעם טראָגן

?עלעף ווער ווייסט
.עלעף, עלעף, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,עלעף שטערן אינעם הימל
…צען דיברות

?צוועלעף ווער ווייסט
.צוועלעף, צוועלעף, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,צוועלעף שבֿטים
…עלעף שטערן אינעם הימל

?דרײַצן ווער ווייס
.דרײַצן, דרײַצן, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
דרײַצן מידות האָט דער גאָט
…צוועלעף שבֿטים

“Er hot di zakh gut gemakht” Performed by Tuba Shvartz-Khatinsky

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2021 by yiddishsong

Er hot di zakh gut gemakht / He did it well
A Yiddish Cheer sung by Tuba Shvartz-Khatinsky, recorded by Sarah Faerman, Toronto 1991

“Recess at a Talmud Torah” from Photographing The Jewish Nation: Pictures Form An-sky’s Ethographic Expeditions

Er hot di zakh git gemakht,
git gemakht, git gemakht
Mir hobn im nisht oysgelakht
nit oysgelakht!

He did it well, did it well,
did it well.
We didn’t mock him,
We didn’t mock him. 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Tuba Shvarts Khatinsky was born in 1927 in Telenesti (then Romania, today Moldova) and then lived in Keshenev, (today Chisinau). Sarah Faerman recorded her in 1991 in Toronto where they both lived. Thanks for this week’s post to Sarah Faerman. 

“A kheyder” from Simkhe Shvartz’s Kamelyon Theater Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2021 by yiddishsong

A scene from Simkhe Shvartz’  Kamelyon theater in Chernovitz, Romania early 1930s.
As remembered and sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG], recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx 1990s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

From right: Simkhe Shvarts, Itzik Manger, Helios Hecht, Rose Auslander, Chernovitz, 1934.
Photo from Efrat Gal-Ed Niemandssprache

BSG spoken: 

Dus iz a sene vus Simkhe Shvarts hot ofgefirt in Chernovitz mit der amatorn-trupe Kamelyon.  “A kheyder” hot dus geheysn. 

This is a scene that Simkhe Shvarts put on in Chernovitz with the amateur troupe “Chameleon”.  It was called “A kheyder”. [traditional elementary school]

Tsigele, migele, kotenak
Royte pomerantsn.    
Az der rebe’z nishtu in kheyder, 
Geyen khevre tanstn. 

Nem zhe Tshaykl dem rebns kantshik 
Un varf im aran in hribe.
Ikh’n helfn dos kind talepen [telepen] 
Der rebetsin Teme-Libe.  

Avek di mamzer, di pachuk
Moykhl dir dus vign
Bald vet der rebe kimen. 
Vesti dans shoyn krign

Kinder der rebe’z in shil. 
Kimt zhe tsi aher in 
lernt dus naye shpil    
Shpiln zikh iz git, oy git.
ernen zikh, oy nit oy nit.
Shpiln zikh iz tayer    
Der kantshik ligt in fayer.   

A gitn-uvnt Libe! 
A gitn yingnmantshik.   
Freyg im nor deym takhsit. 
Vi es ligt der kantshik. 

[4 pupils reply]
“Rebe, ikh veys nisht”
¨Ikh veys gurnisht rebe.”  
“Rebe, ikh oykh nisht.”  
“Ikh veys oykh nisht rebe”

“Az s’i nishtu keyn kantshik 
iz du a rimen mit a shprontshik.
Arinter, lernen!¨   

Little goat, little kitten
Red oranges
When the teacher is not in school
The gang starts to dance. 

So Tshaykl take the teacher’s s whip  
and throw it into the heating stove.
I will help the teacher’s wife, Teme-Libe 
knock around the child

Get away you scoundrel, you rat
I don’t need your rocking. 
Soon the teacher will come
and you will get yours.

Children, the teacher is in the synagogue
so come over here
and learn the new game.
Playing is good, oy good.
Learning is not, oy not.
Playing is precious
The whip is in the fire. 

“Good evening Libe”
“Good evening, my young man.
Just ask this brat
where he put the whip”.


 “Teacher, I know nothing”
 ¨I know nothing, teacher.¨
“Teacher, I too know nothing”
“I too know not, teacher”

¨Well if there’s no whip
There is the leather strap with a buckle.
Sit down and learn!¨ 

BSG added later, spoken: Everyone then sat down around the long table and started to rock back and forth and learn. Meanwhile the teacher fell asleep, so they took his leather strap and threw it into the fire. Then they sang again the first verse again:

Tsigele, migele, kotinak….

The Kamelyon [Chameleon] theater in Chernovitz was founded  in 1929 and directed by Simkhe Schvartz (aka Simcha Schwartz – September 1, 1900 – August 14, 1974),  a leader of Yiddish culture between the world wars in the Romanian city Chernovitz (today in the Ukraine –  Cernivtsi). He was a sculptor, dramaturge, director, and songwriter. He is perhaps most known for his Parisian Yiddish puppet theater Hakl-bakl (1949 – 52) in which Marc Chagall and Itsik Manger participated. Simkhe Shvartz had two younger brothers, Julian Shvartz and Itzik Shvarts (aka I. Kara), also writers and important figures in the Yiddish cultural world in Romania.

The skits of Kamelyon , created by Shvarts, often were comprised of adapted Yiddish folksongs strung together to form a plot. “A kheyder” uses folky elements: the opening rhyme is adapted from the children’s rhyme  “Tsigele, migele kotinke” (two examples in Ginzburg/Marek, 1901 and two more in I. L Cahan, 1952). Ruth Rubin sings two versions that can be listened to in YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive. https://ruthrubin.yivo.org/categories/browse/Dublin+Core/Title/Tsigele%2C+migele%2C+kotinke?site=site-r

More recently, Israeli singer Ruth Levin sings a song that begins with Tsigele-migele, words by J. Joffe, music by N. Zaslavsky on her CD of children’s songs Tsigele-migele

Singer/composer Efim Chorney has set music to Yiddish poet Meir Charat’s song “Tsigele-migele” and it can be found on the Klezmer Alliance CD Mir Basaraber.

Another folk element in “A kheyder” – the melody of the Yiddish folksong, “Dire-gelt” is used (can be found in the Mlotek songbook Mir trogn a gezang.) starting with the line “Shpiln zikh iz git.”

Please note that the teacher in the traditional elementary school, the kheyder, is addressed as “rebe” and is not to be confused with a Hasidic leader also called “rebe”.

Special thanks this week to Eliezer Niborski.