“A sikele, a kleyne” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
A sikele, a kleyne is based on a popular poem by Avrom Reisen called „In suke.‟ I know of at least three recordings: Louis Danto’s Masters of the Jewish Art Song; Yiddish Classics (a.k.a. Heymishe Yidishe Klangen volume one, 1991); and the version on the recent CD Tsuker Zis by Lorin Sklamberg and Frank London. The Danto version is with a different melody by Joel Engel. The other two are similar to the one sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG) which she learned in her hometown of Chernovitz, Romania.
Only Danto‘s version uses Reisin‘s original poem. The words differ in the other versions, verses were added, and the song was widely folklorized. In Shmuel Lehman‘s Ganovim lider (Thieve‘s Songs) he includes an underworld song sung to the same melody.
In 2001 or 2002 I interviewed one of the producers of the Yiddish Classics CD and he mentioned that a rabbi called and complained about their Sukele version because it left out the final verse that BSG includes.
BSG (my mother) was born in Vienna, raised in Chernovitz and came to the US in 1951. She is a poet, songwriter and singer, awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2005 for her Yiddish singing, songs and poetry.
Photograph of Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman by Joan Roth
She is the daughter of the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) whose performances have been posted on this blog a number of times. Whereas LSW‘s singing reflects a 19th century small shtetl style, her daughter captures the urban Yiddish singing style of the interwar period. You can hear more of her singing traditional repertoire on the CD Bay mayn mames shtibele.
Final note: the pitch sounds a little high on this recording done in our Bronx home in the 1980s.
A sikele a kleyne,
mit breytelekh gemeyne
hob ikh mir mit tsures tsunoyfgeklopt.
Tsigedekt deym dakh,
mit a bisele skhakh.
un ikh zits mir in sikele un trakht.
A little sukkah
with simple boards,
I barely put together.
I covered the roof
with a little skhakh,
and I sit in the little sukkah and think.
Der vint der kalter,
bluzt derekh di shpalter
in lesht mir di lekhtelekh shir oys.
Herts nor a khidesh,
kom makh ikh nor kidish.
Der vint lesht di lekhtelekh oys.
The cold wind
blows throught the cracks
and almost blows the candles out.
Listen to this wonder –
only when I finish saying the kiddush,
then the candles blow out.
Mit a groys geveyn,
mit a biter geshrey,
kimt dekh mayn vabele aran.
Her nor man man,
Der vint varft dus sikele bold an,
Oy, vus vet dernukh dem zan?
With a great cry,
with a bitter yell,
my wife comes inside.
„Listen my husband,
The wind will soon blow the sukkah down,
Oh, what will happen then?‟
Gey zay nisht keyn nar,
un hob nisht keyn tsar,
un loz dir der vint nisht ongeyn.
vifl vintn s‘veln brimen,
vifl doyres s‘veln kimen,
dos sikele vet eybik shteyn.
„Don‘t be a fool,
and don‘t have any grief,
and don‘t worry about the wind.
No matter how many winds will roar
No matter how many generations will come,
the sukkah will always remain standing.