“Tsu dir, tsu dir dos glezele vayn” Performed by George (Getsl) Ribak

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Singer George (Getsl) Ribak was born in Dvinsk, Latvia, and died in 1979 at age 93. He sang Yiddish songs in public at the local JCC.

George Getsl Ribak

The recording was made in the 1960s by Ribak’s granddaughter Cheryl Cohen of Sarasota, Florida. It is one of several songs sung by her family that Cohen sent to Bob Freedman (of the University of Pennsylvania’s Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Music Archive), and Bob sent it to me.

I do not know this short drinking song, which Getsl Ribak sings with much gusto. According to Chana Mlotek, collector, YIVO archivist and author of Yiddish songbooks, the song originates from the early Yiddish stage, and she will write about this version in her next column in the Forverts newspaper.

Ribak’s melody and rhyming schemes seem a little off. In parentheses I wrote what I believed to be the “correct” ending, grammatical form or dialect pronunciation. Clearly “glik” should rhyme with “kik”, not “kuk” for example.

After the original posting, Cheryl Cohen wrote to provide some additional biographical information:

My grandfather George (Getsel) Ribak was born in Dvinsk, Latvia. He fled  before being drafted in the Czar’s Army to Capetown, South Africa. He became a British citizen while working  in the shoe making trade. He later fled to avoid the Boer War. He was in England, then in Canada, then finally to the United States. He lived with his wife Rose (Rochel Swirsky) in Chattanooga, TN, where he was in the meat market business. I think he also did house painting in Detroit. He and his wife finally settled in Bridgeport, Connecticut where he had a second hand clothing store. He would  take the train into New York and make his purchases there, I believe.

He and his wife raised 3 children, one of which was my mother. I remember spending weekends in their apartment, listening to WEVD, and seeing the Foverts newspaper.  He loved to sing songs in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English with me for fun but he really enjoyed performing at the Jewish Community Center in Bridgeport for various events. He was not a professional singer but had a very strong and pleasant voice. He even performed at the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield, CT. while he was a resident there. He wanted everyone to be freylach!

In dir, in dir, du glezele vayn,
In dir, in dir, mayn gantser (gantse) glik.
Ven ikh vil mir freylekh zayn
Damolts gib ikh af dir a kuk.(kik)


In you, in you, you glass of wine,
In you, in you, my whole fortune.
When I want to be happy
Then I take a look at you.

Tsu dir tsu dir, hob ikh lust.
Du bist di nekhome
fun mayn neshome.


For you, for you I lust,
You are the comfort
of my soul.

Af kapores darf ikh gelt
A riekh in dos (dem) gelt arayn.
Ikh lakh mir oys fun der gantser velt.
Nor tsulib dir du glezele vayn.


I have no use for money
The devil take the money!
I laugh at the whole world,
because of you my glass of wine.


2 Responses to ““Tsu dir, tsu dir dos glezele vayn” Performed by George (Getsl) Ribak”

  1. itzik gottesman Says:

    Dovid Braun has sent these comments:

    ribaks gramen un gramatik zaynen reyn “litvish”, afile eyn “toes” iz a hiperkorektkayt vos nor a litvak ken aroysbrengen.
    dehayne:
    mayn gantsER glik — _glik_ iz maskulin in litvishn dialekt.glik ~ kuk — der zinger iz nit mesugl tsu gramen di beyde vayl zey gramen zikh poshet nit in zayn dialekt. kentik vos der gram “volt gedarft zayn”, un dos iz a simen az dos lid iz geshafn gevorn mekhuts litvisher teritorye: dos lid ken der zinger oder fun der nayer heym (mekhuts deneborg/dvinsk un der “litvisher” teritorye fun zayne kinder-yorn, heyst es), oder iz dos lid farkrokhn tsofndik fun a doremdikn geboyrn-ort. du biNst di nekhome — faktish zingt er [binst] un nit [bist], oykh a regyonale litvishe forme.a ruekh in dos gelt arayn — faktish zingt er [ruekh] (nit “riekh”), konsekvent mit zayn dialekt, un “in dos gelt” ken nor zogn/zingen a litvak vos bahersht nit dem neytral. dos iz a hiperkorektkayt: der litvak hot nit keyn neytraln artikl _dos_, nor az er prubirt (tsulib bakantshaft mit andere dialektn, tsi bakantshaft mitn geshribenem loshn — “di literarishe shprakh”, tsi a mol oykh bakantshaft mitn neytraln min fun daytshish) nokhtsumakhn a reydenish vos hot ye _dos_ vi an artikl, veys er ober nit vi azoy rikhtik tsu beygn dem artikl, s’heyst: es felt em di fule paradigme (d”h: az der artikl _dos_ iz neytral in nominativ un akuzativ ober *nit* in dativ). az me shtelt dem lid a titl, volt er agev gedarft zayn “…du glezele vayn” un nit “dos glezele vayn” vayl dos letste volt nit miglekh geven bam litvak ribakn.
    dayn dovid braun

  2. itzik gottesman Says:

    Following this blog entry, Chana Mlotek, archivist at YIVO, wrote about the song in her “Perl fun der yidisher poezye” column in the Forverts, May 6-12, 2011, page 10. She writes that the words appear in the collection “Di yidishe bine, a zamlung fun lider un deklamatsionen fir gramafon”, Warsaw, 1910, p. 70. The song was performed in N. M. Shomer’s play “Bal-tshuve”.

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