Archive for the Main Collection Category

“Baym tir fun gan-eydn” Performed by Mimi Erlich and Hasia Goldberg-Gering

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2021 by yiddishsong

Baym tir fun gan-eydn / At the door of Paradise
Sung by Mimi Erlich and Hasia Goldberg-Gering
Ehrlich recorded by Itzik Gottesman at KlezKanada, St. Agathe, Quebec, approx. 2007;
Gering-Goldberg recording from the Music Department of the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, recorded 1980.

Courtesy of the Yiddish Book Center
“Baym tir fun gan-eydn” sung by Mimi Erlich

For Hasia Gering-Goldberg’s version, please click here and listen from 42:54 to 44:06.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

My interest in this song began when Mimi Erlich z”l, a teacher and accomplished musician, approached me while waiting for dinner outside the dining hall at the KlezKanada festival. She sang what she remembered from her mother. Erlich recently passed and and in her memory I put this blog together.  A video interview with her can be found at the Wexler Oral History Project at the Yiddish Book Center. 

A fine recording of the song by Hasya Gering-Goldberg is from the on-line holdings of the Music Department at the National Library in Jerusalem. It is more complete than Erlich’s though the second verse is cut-off. I have transcribed and translated the versions of Gering-Goldberg and Erlich. The music and words of one verse of a similar version can be found in Abraham Idelsohn’s monumental Thesaurus of Hebrew-Oriental Melodies (1914-1932), Volume 9, #724 (please see scans below). Several texts were sent to A. Forsher for his column “Pearls of the Yiddish Poets” in the Forverts newspaper (scans below). But so far the authorship of this song has not been found. In a poetry collection of Aron Kriwitzky he includes a longer, fuller text for the song (below).

So we have 6 variants of the song, all of them from Lithuania:

1) Idelsohn vol. 9, text and music.
2 & 3)  In the “Perl” column Jan. 23, 1972, second section page 13. there is a version by Paula Segal and one by Henye Shenkman.
4) Erlich, recording.
5) Goldberg-Gering, recording.
6) The extended version found in Aron Kriwitzky’s collection.

Thanks to Yiddish teacher and researcher Eliezer Niborski for finding the Goldberg-Gering recording and the text in Aron Kriwitzky’s poetry collection. Thanks also to Jill Horowitz, friend of Mimi Erlich, and  to Gila Flam, head of the Music Deptartment at the National Library, Jerusalem.

Verson of Hasia Goldberg-Gering (חסיה גולדברג-גרינג)

“Der gan-eydn” [ spoken: “Paradise”]

Baym tir fun gan-eydn
shteyen malokhim on a shir.
Mentshn viln arayngeyn reydn
nor men halt zey op bay der tir. 

At the door to paradise
stand many angels. 
People want to enter and speak
but they are stopped at the door.

Mikhoyl, Gavril haltn di bikher.
Me leyent zey for zeyer zind.
Un yeder eyner vil vos gikher
in gan-eydn arayn geshvind.

Michael, Gabriel are keeping the books.
They read their sins to them .
And everyone wants, as fast as possible,
to enter paradise quickly.

Nor me shtupt zey op mit beyde hent.
Men farmakht far zey di tir.
“Geyt in gehenem un vert farbrent.
Der gan-eydn iz nit far dir!”

But they are pushed away  with both hands.
The door is closed for them. 
“Go to hell and burn:
Paradise is not for you!”

Kumt tsu geyn a kheynevdike yidene
mit a horband a reytn,
mit korbn-minkhes* un mit  siderlekh farshidene
un mit a kop a bloyzn.

A charming woman arrives
with a red headband,
with korbn-minkhes* and various prayer books,
and with an uncovered head.

Avek fun danet du arura
Du host zikh gefirt fardorbn.

Away from here you cursed women.
You led a corrupted life

Korbn-minkhe* : a woman’s prayer book written in Yiddish.

בײַם טיר פֿון גן־עדן
.שטייען מלאכים אָן אַ שיעור
מענטשן ווילן אַרײַנגיין רעדן
.נאָר מען האַלט זיי אָפּ בײַ דער טיר.

מיכאל, גבֿריאל האַלטן די ביכער
.מע לייענט זיי פֿאָר זייער זינד.
און יעדער איינער וויל וואָס גיכער
.אין גן־עדן אַרײַן געשווינד.

נאָר מע שטופּט זיי אָפּ מיט ביידע הענט
.מען פֿאַרמאַכט פֿאַר זיי די טיר.
גייט אין גיהנום און ווערט פֿאַרברענט”
“!דער גן־עדן איז ניט פֿאַר דיר

קומט צו גיין אַ חנעוודיקע ייִדענע
.מיט אַ האָרבאַנד אַ רייטן
מיט קרבן־מינחהס און סידערלער פֿאַרשידענע
.און מיט אַ קאָפּ אַ בלויזן

!אַוועק פֿון דאַנעט דו ארורה
.דו האָסט זיך געפֿירט פֿאַרדאָרבן

Version of Mimi Erlich

Bay dem tir fun gan-eydn
shteyen yidn on a shir.
Yederer vil epes reydn

Men shtupt zey avek
mit beyde hent.

Gey in gehenim un ver farbrent!
Der gan-eydn iz nit far dir.

At the door of paradise,
many people are standing.
Everyone wants to say something

They are pushed away
with both hands.

Go to hell and burn.
Paradise is not for you!

בײַם טיר פֿון גן־עדן
.שטייען מענטשן אָן אַ שיעור
יעדער וויל עפּעס ריידן

מען שטופּט זיי אַוועק
.מיט ביידע הענט

!גיי אין גיהנום און ווער פֿאַרברענט
.דער גן־עדן איז נישט פֿאַר דיר

From Abraham Idelsohn, Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies (1914-1932), Vol 9, #724:

From A. Forsher’s column “Pearls of the Yiddish Poets” in the Forverts, Jan. 23, 1972, second section, page 13. Presenting versions from Paula Segal and Henye Shenkman:

From Aron Kriwitzky’s Collection (published in Israel):

Shteyt of lavoydes-haboyre!: The Shulklaper’s Call to Prayer

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2021 by yiddishsong

Shteyt of lavoydes-haboyre! / Wake up to pray! 
Five versions of the call to prayer of the shulklaper in Eastern Europe.

Painting of a shulklaper by Mayer Kirshenblatt from the book “They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland before the Holocaust” (University of California Press, 2007)

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

This week we present five different recordings of the call of the shulklaper or shammes [synagogue sexton] to the congregants to prayer. In the towns of Eastern Europe the shulklaper went door to door, knocking on the window shutters. This was done before the Sabbath, for the Selihot/slikhes prayers in the month of Elul and for the midnight service “khtsos” חצות. 

We have transcribed and translated the words to three of the versions after the mp3s.

The five recordings are:

1) “Am kodoysh” A Galician version by Berish Katz from the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO. It can also be heard on Ruth Rubin’s LP “The Jewish Life: The Old Country”.

2) “Shteyt of” from the Stonehill Collection. Singer unidentified (1948).

3) Leah Israelit from her LP record “Songs That I Remember: Melodies from Eretz Yisroel and Bessarabia” (Tikva T-79). A Bessarabian version.

4) A field recording made by Moshe Beregovski, entitled “Khtsos” sung by Eli Spivak, Kiev, 1929, from Volume 6 “Historical Collection of Jewish Musical Folklore 1912 – 1947”. Clearly related to Israelit’s version.

5) A contemporary Hasidic version that we found on Youtube, sung by Belzer khosid, Yermiah Damen (2009)

6)  In addition, at the bottom of this post, we have added a scan of this “call” from Marcy Nulman’s Concise Encyclopedia of Jewish Music (1975). We include his entire entry for “schulklapper” which he learned from a Vilna cantor. He also presents the melody and text of a selikhot call in the Sephardic tradition. 

I have written a more extensive article on the “shulklaper” in the Yiddish Forverts newspaper, Sept. 23, 2019.

TRANSLITERATION / TRANSLATION OF TEXTS

1) The Beresh Katz version (from Galicia)

Spoken: 

All the Jews woke up for “khtsos” [midnight prayers] almost every day. By knocking with a hammer the shammus [sexton] called.

Friday night, when Jews cannot carry a hammer and cannot knock, he sang a melody with all his heart with these words:

עם קדוש! שטייט אויף און גייט לעבֿודת-הבורא
כּי לכּך נוצרתּי
עצל עד מתי תּשכּבֿ

Am kodoysh!
Shteyt of un geyt lavoydes-haboyre.
Ki lekekh notsarti.
Eytsl ladmusay tishkov

Holy people!
Wake up to serve the creator!
For this we were born.
Hurry! How late will you sleep?

2)  Unidentified female singer from the Ben Stonehill Collection:

!שטייט אויף! שטייט אויף!   שטייט אויף! שטייט שוין אַלע אויף
צו עבֿודת־הבורא
אָן פּחד און אָן מורא
שטייט אויף צו עבֿודת־הבורא
שלאָף שוין ניט יידעלע,  שפּיל אויף דיין פֿידעלע
.אין ירושלים
!שטייט אויף

Shteyt of! Shteyt of! Shteyt of!
Shteyt shoyn ale of!
Tsi avoydes-haboyre.
Un pakhad in un moyre.
Shteyt of tsi avoydes-haboyre.
Shluf shoyn nit yidele.
Shpil of dayn fidele
in Yerushelayim. 
Shteyt of!

Awaken! Awaken! Awaken!
Wake up for everyone
to serve the creator [to pray].
Sleep no longer dear Jew.
Play on your fiddle
in Jerusalem.
Awaken!

3)  Singer Leah Israelit from Markulesht, Bessarabia (Mărculeşti, Moldova): 
Israelit learned it from “Shmuel the sexton.”

!שטייט אויף, שטייט אויף
לעבֿודת־הבורא
—עצל עצל למה תּשכּבֿ
קום לעבודת־הבורא
אדם דואג לאבוד דמיו
ואינו דואג לאבוד ימיו
!אוי, שטייט אויף

דמיו, דימיו אינם עוזרים
ימיו, ימיו אינם חוזרים
!אוי, שטייט אויף

.אויף דרײַ זאַכן וועק איך אײַך יידעלעך
אויף חורבן־בית־המיקדש
און אויף גלות־השכינה
.אוי, און אויף צרות־ישראל
שטייט אויף, שטייט אויף
!לעבֿודת־הבורא

Shteyt of! shteyt of!
Lavoydas-haboyre.
Eytsl, eytsl lama tishkov.
Kum lavoydat [lavoydes] haboyre.
Udem doyeg al ibed yumov
veeynu doyeg al ibed yumov
Oy, shteyt of!
Dumov, dumov eynom ozrim.
Yumov, yumov eynem khozrim.

Oy, shteyt of! Lavodas-haboyre
af khurbn beys-hamikdesh
un af gules-haskhine
Oy! un af tsores-yisrol.
Shteyt of! shteyt of!
Lavodas-haboyre!

For three things do I awaken you dear Jews:
for the destruction of the Temple
Oy! and for the exile of the Shekhinah [=Divine Presence] and for the troubles of the Jewish people.
Wake up!  Wake up to pray!

Wake up! Wake up!
To serve the creator. [ = to prayer]
Hurry, hurry, why do you sleep?
Awaken for prayer.
Man worries about losing his money
and man worries about losing his days.
His days do not return.

Below: entry on “Schulklopfer” from Marcy Nulman’s Concise Encyclopedia of Jewish Music (1975):

“Mamele, tatele, nat aykh a matone” Performed by Duo Guefilte Fish

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

Mamele, tatele, nat aykh a matone / Dearest Mom and Dad: Here is a Gift
Also known as “A gut yor!”, words by Shemu’el Tsesler, sung by “Duo Guefilte Fish”

Mamele, tatele,
Nat aykh a matone:
A sheyn leshone-toyvele,
A vuntsh tsu rosh-hashone.

Mommy, daddy,
Here is a gift:
a beautiful Jewish New Year’s card,
a greeting for rosh-hashone.

A gut yor, vintshn mir,
A gliklekh un tsufridn.
Far aykh un yedn gutn fraynd,
un ale, ale yidn.

We wish you a good year,
a joyous and happy one.
For you and every good friend,
and all, all the Jews.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This song from the Argentinian Yiddish children’s writer, Shmu’el Tsesler, is sung by “Duo Guefilte Fish”, which is comprised of Horacio Liberman and Mirtha Zuker from Miramar, on Argentina’s coast south of Buenos Aries. The duo’s website can be found at this link. Thanks to Horacio Liberman for the video. The words in Yiddish can be found in the book Heym un mishpokhe: material far kindergartner by Sara Fischer, Buenos Aires, 1947 (scan below)

“Kinderland, du tsoyberland” Performed by Gerry Tenney

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2021 by yiddishsong

Kinderland, du tsoyberland / Kinderland, You Magical Land 
A Yiddish summer camp hymn 
Music: Albert Bitter, Words: M.A. Suhl (Yuri Suhl, 1908 – 1986) 
Sung & Recorded by Gerry Tenney, May 2021  

Gerry Tenney

(Spoken)  
Eyns, tsvey, dray, fir                       One, two, three, four 

Kinderland, du tsoyberland.   Kinderland, you magical land 
Unter himlen fraye.                        Under the open skies 
Mir kumen zikh do opruen,          We come here to rest,            
Shtarkn un banayen.                    To be strengthened and renewed. 
Oy, kinder, kinder, kinderland.      Oy, children, children, children –land 
Far kinder a gan-eydn                  For children it’s a paradise.  
Mir shpiln zikh, mir lernen zikh.  We play, we learn 
Mir lebn do in freydn.                   We live here peacefully 
Oy, kinder, kinder, kinderland       Oy, children, children, children-land 
Far kinder a gan-eydn                  For children, it’s a paradise.  
Mir shpil zikh, mir lernen zikh.    We play, we learn. 
Mir lebn do in freydn.                   We live here peacefully 

There is second verse to this song, which according to Tenney was rarely sung.  

Mit zun un feld un fraye nakht.      With sun and field and free nights 
Du bist undz azoy tayer                  You are so dear to us.  
Freylekh munter zingt dos lid         Happy, boldy sing this song, 
An arbets lid a nayer                       a labor song, a new one.           

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Camp Kinderland is a summer camp, today in Tolland, Massachusets. It was founded in 1923 in New York by leftist unions. Several generations of Jewish children from NY and surrounding regions were raised there with a love for Yiddish song and culture. Kinderland has evolved since then and here is the current link to the camp.

A link to the songbook of Kinderland, 1954, which includes the Yiddish and English transcription of this and many other songs can be found here. We hope to present more recordings from this songbook.   

Gerry Tenney is a leading figure in the Yiddish cultural world in the Bay area. He writes about himself: 

I was born in a Yinglish speaking family in the Bronx. Yiddish  was all around me as we lived in the same building as my bubi and zeydi. Although I was not raised in linke krayzn [leftist circles], I found my way there in the late fifties and early sixties. I graduated from the Hekherer Kursn [high school level] and taught in the elementar shuln in Queens. From 1963 -1968 I was a counsellor and group leader at Camp Kinderland. I have  remained active in camp activities and went back there to teach music many times. My son Noah also attended camp. In California I was the co-founder of East Bay Kindershul, leader of California Klezmer, and the President of KlezCalifornia. I am currently working on the Beregovski translation project.

We would add to this short bio, that Tenney together with Betty Albert-Shreck produced a popular Yiddish recording for children “Let’s Sing a Yiddish Song/Lomir zingen a yidish lid.” 

This is one of three Camp Kinderland hymns according to Tenney, and though there is at least one recording with a second verse, Tenney remembers only singing one.  Bitter and Suhl also together composed the humorous children’s song “Poyzn ayvi” [ Poison Ivy] which can be heard on the recording “Let’s Sing a Yiddish Song” 

You can hear other Kinderland alumni sing the song at this link

We invite readers of the blog to send in recordings of songs from their Yiddish camps. There are many that have never been recorded and are unknown to the larger Yiddish world.  

“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