“In dem vaytn land Sibir‟ Performed by Chana Yachness and Rukhele Yachness

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

It was very sad and shocking news to hear that Chana Yachness passed away on September 29th, 2013. She grew up in the leftist (“linke”) Yiddish circles of New York, loved Yiddish culture and was a wonderful link to that world. She was beloved by all and this week‘s contribution to the Yiddish Song of the Week is in her memory.

Chana and ted
Chana Yachness and her husband, Ted Haendel.
Photograph by Emily Socolov.

Her mother Rukhele Barak Yachness was a fine Yiddish singer and actress and in this recording (which I recorded in the Bronx, 1999) they sing together a revolutionary folksong In dem vaytn land Sibir that can be found in the volume of Moshe Beregovski’s writings and transcriptions edited by Mark Slobin, Old Jewish Folk Music (1982, see below). It‘s obviously not a perfect recording with bantering and joking – Chana sings the name of Yiddish actor “Maurice Schwartz‟ instead of “khmares shvarts‟, but it is the only recording I can find of the song. Their spirited interpretation gives one the sense of how a Yiddish revolutionary song used to be performed, especially by Jewish choruses.  Note that in the Beregovski volume there is a second verse; Chana and Rukhele sing the first and third.

Many of the Yiddish songs that are sung by di linke today, including In dem vaytn, were learned from the folk operetta  A bunt mit a statshke (A Revolt and a Strike) assembled from songs printed in Beregovski‘s song collection of 1934 by the choral leader and conductor Jacob Schaefer and critic Nathaniel Buchwald. This operetta was not only performed by the choruses of the time, 1930s, but in the Yiddish leftist camp Kinderland (at Sylvan Lake, Dutchess County, NY) where Chana no doubt learned it in the late 1940s and 1950s. See the recent documentary on Kinderland – Commie Camp

The West Coast musician Gerry Tenney had long planned with Chana Yachness to produce this operetta again; see Hershl Hartman‘s post on A Bunt mit a statshke on the email-list Mendele from 1997.

In the distant land Siberia
Where the sky is always covered by clouds,
I was banished there,
for one word – for freedom.
I was beaten with the whip,
so I would no longer say
“Let there be freedom – to hell with Nicholas‟

Soon will come the happy time,
Soon we will know from near and far,
that Russia is bright, that Russia is free.
“Let there be freedom – to hell with Nicholas‟

YachnessItzik

YachnessLyrics1

YachnessBeregovski1

YachnessBeregovski2

2 Responses to ““In dem vaytn land Sibir‟ Performed by Chana Yachness and Rukhele Yachness”

  1. Gershn Yankl aka Gerry Tenney Says:

    I performed this song with Chane and The New York Jewish People’s Philharmonic Folk Chorus in the 60’s Its from Bunt Mit a Statchke a fabulous folk opertta put together in Camp Kinderland in the 1930’s by Jacob Schaefer and others. The songs came from The Beregovski song colletion.I think we sang it at Carnegie Hall! We would sing it all the time when we got together We learned it form Moyshe Rauch ay the Hekherer Kurson. I had been planning to put this on in full, but so far I’ve only done some of the songs. In d’rerd mit Nikolay! Chane’s father Zalmen was my drama teacher.

  2. a sheynem dank far dem lid, mayn yingl Louis, voz is nokh nikht alt alt tsvey yor hot gut geklapt dem takt derzu

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