“Sara troyer” Performed by I. Berkovitch

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The singer of Sara troyer, a Romanian Yiddish partisan song from the second world war, is the Yiddish poet Israel Berkovitch (Israil Berovici). He was born in 1921 in Botoshan, Moldavia and died in Bucharest in 1988. He directed the Jewish State Theater of Bucharest, a Yiddish theater which still exists, for many years. For more on his life, see Dr. Elvira Grozinger‘s essay from the book Under the Red Banner at this link. His archives are at the University of Potsdam, Germany.

In 1985, I traveled to Romania with my parents to visit ‟the old country‟, and particularly my father‘s hometown Siret. At that time, we still had relatives living in Bucharest and Suceava. While in Bucharest we were able to get together with some of the Yiddish writers and activists living there then: writer Chaim Goldenstein, journalist and translator Anton Celaru (Yosl Faierstein) and Israel Berkovitch. At one get-together, I believe at the Berkovitches apartment, I asked if someone knew Yiddish songs, and Berkovitch took me to a back room, so no one else would hear, and sang this song for me. Ceausescu was still the dictator then, and everyone in Bucharest was very wary of everything, so I guess he didn‘t want others to know about the song. I have not found any other information on the song or variants.

Sara troyer in di Moldavishe stepn.

Sara troyer in di Moldavishe stepn.
Vi umetik un troyerik s‘iz dort.
Es benkt un es veynt zikh nokh epes,
tor me nisht redn keyn vort.

Such a sadness in the Moldavian steppes.
How lonesome and gloomy it is there.
One longs and cries for something,
but not one word is allowed to be spoken.

Teg un nekht zenen tribe.
Es busheven zhandarmen, politsay.
Akh! Basarabye mayn libe!
Ven vestu zayn amol fray?

The days and nights are sad,
Gendarmes and police run rampant.
Oh! My dear Bessarabia!
When will you ever by free?

4 Responses to ““Sara troyer” Performed by I. Berkovitch”

  1. Sara troyer indeed! So sad, but such a great song. Thanks for posting this rare gem, Itzik!

  2. Sebastian Schulman Says:

    A sheynem dank si multumesc for sharing this wonderful recording! I believe I have read this song as a poem somewhere, but I am not sure where. Srul Bronshteyn’s 1938 collection “Moldove mayn heym” immediately came to mind, but upon inspection it was not there… I would be grateful for any further information any one might have…

  3. Beautiful – both the song and your story of recording it. A dank.

  4. Leo Summergrad Says:

    A little gem. In 1990, the orchestra of the Jewish Theater of Bucharest put out a CD of Yiddish folk songs. One of the singers, Bebe Bercovici, sings four songs on the recording.

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