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“Fun vanen nemen zikh di libes?” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2019 by yiddishsong

Fun vanen nemen zikh di libes? / How do romances begin?
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954, The Bronx, New York City

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Though once fairly well-known and found in field recordings and several printed collections, I do not believe this lyric love song was ever recorded commercially other than on the CD Bay mayn mames shtibele, sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman’s (LSW’s) daughter Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman. Here we present a version by LSW herself.

Lifshe1972Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, 1972

In the I. L. Cahan collection (1957) there are three versions of the song (#26, 27, 28) from the Kiev region, the Vilna region and Podolia region; so the song has been “traveling” over a wide area for a while. One of the verses in those versions (#27)  continues the counting of excuses:

Dem dritn terets zolstu zogn,
du host dikh gelernt shvimen.
Dem fertn terets zolstu zogn,
az du host dayn tsayt bakumen [bakimen]

The third excuse you should give
is that you were learning how to swim.
The fourth excuse you should give
is that you are having your period.

Thus making this the only Yiddish song I have found so far that mentions menstruation.

YIDDISH TRANSLITERATION & TRANSLATION

Fun vanet nemen zikh di libes
fin deym shpeytn in fin dem lakhn.
Indzer libe hot zikh geshlosn,
in eyne, tsvey of der nakhtn.

How do romances begin?
From mocking and from laughing.
Our love was sealed –
during one, two evenings.

Tsvelef shlugt zikh shoyn der zeyger.
Fir mekh up aheym.
Vus far a terets vel ikh zugn
Bay mayn mamen in der heym?

The clock has already rung twelve.
Take me home.
What excuse will I say
at my mother’s at home?

Dem ershtn teyrets zo’sti zugn,
az di host geneyet shpeyt.
Dem tsveytn teyrets vesti zugn –
az di host geblondzet dem veyg.

The first excuse you should give
is that you sewed late.
The second excuse you should give
is that you got lost on the way.

Vus toyg mir dayne teyritsem.
Fir mekh up ahem.
Di mame vet dus tirele farshlisn,
in droysn vel ikh blaybn shteyn.

What do I need your excuses for?
Take me home.
Mother will lock the door
and I will be stuck outside.
FunVanetYIDSnip

Three Yiddish Songs to the tune of the Italian pop classic “Return to Sorrento”

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2019 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In this posting, we examine three Yiddish Songs set to the tune of the Italian pop classic Return to Sorrento:

1) Fil gelitn hob ikh miter sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded in 1954 by
Leybl Kahn
2) Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets sung by Reyzl Stalnicovitz, and recorded by Itzik Gottesman in Mexico City, 1988.
3) Sore-Yente a song found in Meyer Noy’s collection at the National Library in Jerusalem, and performed by Sharon Bernstein, piano and vocal, and Willy Schwarz on accordion, Florence, Italy 2001.

sorrento

This week we highlight three Yiddish songs that use the melody of an Italian pop classic Torna a Surriento (Return to Sorrento) music by Ernesto De Curtis (1875 – 1937), copyright 1905. The original lyrics were by his cousin Giambattista De Curtis. Here is a Dean Martin recording of the Italian song which we chose because it has a translation of the Italian lyrics (click here to listen).

There are even more Yiddish songs that use this melody, among them: in 1933 after the murder of Haim Arlosoroff in Tel-Aviv, a song was composed to this melody and a song sheet was published (A tragisher mord in Tel-Aviv/A Tragic Death in Tel Aviv). A song about the Polish Jewish strongman Zishe Breitbard (1883 – 1925) also uses a version of the melody (see Mlotek, Songs of the Generations, page 147-148 ).

Thanks this week to Aida Stalnicovitz Vda Fridman and Sharon Bernstein.

1) Fil gelitn hob ikh miter (I Have Suffered Much Mother) 
Performance by Lifshe Schaechter Widman, recorded in 1954 by Leybl Kahn in NYC.

Lifshe introduces the song by saying “S’iz a lidl vus me hot gezingen in der ershter milkhume (It’s a song that was sung in the First World War).” The four verses are entirely in the mother’s voice, apparently addressed to her mother, as indicated in the first line.

TRANSLITERATION
Fil gelitn hob ikh miter
bay der as[ent]irung fun mayn kind.
Gearbet hob ikh shver in biter
Far vus lad ikh nokh atsind.?

Iz mayn zin nokh mayn nekhome
Vi iz er fin mir avek?
Afarshundn iz er in der milkhume.
Un a seykhl in un a tsvek.

Ziser Got ikh beyt ba dir
loz mikh nokh a nes gesheyn.
Eyder eykh vel shtarbn
Vil eykh mayn kind nokh eyn mol zeyn.

Dentsmult vel ikh riyik shtarbn.
Got tsi dir keyn tanes hubn.
Loz mayn kind khotsh eyn mul mir
nokh, “mamenyu” zugn.

TRANSLATION
Much have I suffered mother,
from the drafting of my child.
I worked hard and bitter.
Why do I still suffer?

My son is still my comfort
Where did he go and leave me?
Disappeared into the war,
for no logic, for no reason,

Dear God I pray to you
May another miracle take place.
Before I die,
I want to see my son once more.

Then I would calmly die
God, have no complaints to you..
Let my child say to me –
just once more “my mother dear”.

Fil Gelitn

2) Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets (Beautiful is Reyzele, the Shokhet’s Daughter)
Performance by Reyzl Stalnicovitz, recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Mexico City, 1988.

StalnicovitzPhotoReyzl Stalnicovitz, photo by Itzik Gottesman

Reyzl Stalnicovitz was born in 1935 in Xalapa, district of Vera Cruz, Mexico. She was a teacher at the I. L. Peretz shul (“Di naye yidishe shul”) in Mexico City, and passed away in  1996.

Of the three songs presented in this post, this song was by far the most popular and has been printed in several collections and can be found in the field recordings of Ben Stonehill, Sarah Benjamin and at the National Library in Israel. As for commercial recordings: Lea Szlanger sings it on her CD Lea Szlanger In Song.

The text was originally a thirteen verse poem by Zusman Segalovitch (1884 – 1949) that first appeared in the periodical Der shtrahl, Volume one, #2 Warsaw, 1910 (see below). There it was titled Dem shoykhets tokhter: balade (The shoykhet’s daughter: ballad) followed by the inscription – Dos hobn kinder in shtetl dertseylt (This Was Told by Children in Town).

The plot – Reyzl wants to marry Motl but the father, a shoykhet (kosher slaughterer) boils with anger as she combs her hair because she refuses the match he made. He then cuts her golden locks. Then it gets “weird”: she swims into the Vistula (Yiddish = Vaysl) river and builds a little shelter for herself along the bank until her hair locks grow again.
Stalnicovch sings four verses. This ballad was almost always shortened when sung. For example in the Arbeter Ring’s extremely popular songbook Lomir zingen (1939, NY), only five verses are printed (that scanned version, words and music, are attached below).

TRANSCRIPTION
Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets.
Zi hot a yunge harts on zorgn.
Zi tants un freyt zikh mit ir lebn.
Vi a shvalb mitn frimorgn.

Es bakheynen ir di oygn
Es bakreynen ir di lokn.
Un a shtoltse iz zi shtendik.
Zi vet far keynem zikh nit beygn.

Un ir tate iz a frumer
un dertsu a groyser kaysn.
Ven di tokhter kemt di lokn
Heybt er on di lipn baysn .

Un der tate veyst nokh gornisht
Vos in shtetl veysn ale:
Az Reyzl hot shoyn a khosn.
Un me ruft ir Motls kale.

TRANSLATION
Beautiful is the shoykhet’s daughter Reyzl
She has a young heart with no worries.
She dances and is joyful with her life
as a swallow is with the morning.

Her eyes make her pretty
Her locks are a crown on her;
And she is always proud.
She will bow for no one.

Her father is religious
and also quick to anger.
When he combs her locks,
he starts to bite his lips.

And her father doesn’t know anything
what everyone knows in town:
that Reyzl has a groom,
and they call her Motl’s bride.

Spoken (transliteration):
Dos iz vos ikh gedenk. Ober di mame flegt mir dertseyln az s’iz geven epes a gantse tragedye, vayl der tate hot nisht gevolt az zi zol khasene hobn. Vayl er iz geven a sotsyalist, a yingl, un er iz geven a frumer yid. Er hot gevolt zi zol khasene hobn mit a yeshiva bokher. Un zi’s antlofn mitn bokher.

Spoken (translation):
That’s what I remember. But the mother used to tell me that it was a whole tragedy because the father did not want her to get married. Because he (the groom) was a socialist boy and he (the father) wanted him to marry a Yeshiva student. And she ran away with the boy.

Sheyn iz Reyzele

3) Sore-Yente
Performance by Cantor Sharon Bernstein, Florence, 2001 (accompanied by Willy Schwarz on accordion)

The third song that uses the melody of Sorrienta is Sore-Yente – a word play on the original Italian title. This was collected by Meir Noy in Israel in 1962 from Shmuel Ben-Zorekh, who learned it from an immigrant from Minsk. A scan of Meir Noy’s original notation, words and music are attached below.

TRANSLITERATION
Mit a nign fun akdomes
shteyt baym fentster Yosl-Monish,
Far der sheyner Sore-Yente
Zingt er dort tsu ir a lid:

Kum tsu mir mayn sheynes benken,
Eybik vel ikh dikh gedenken.
Kh’vel mayn lebn far dir shenken.
Vayl ikh bin in dir farlibt.

Azoy lang iz er geshtanen
vi der groyser pipernoter
un zi hert im vi der koter
un geyt derbay af gikh avek.

TRANSLATION
With a melody from Akdometh
stands at the window Yosl-Monish
For the beautiful Sore-Yente
there, he sings this song:

Come to me my longed for beauty
I will long for you eternally.
I will give you my life
For I am in love with you.

He stood there for so long
like a giant dragon.
She totally ignores him
And walks quickly by him.

Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets (Beautiful is Reyzele, the Shokhet’s Daughter) by Zusman Segalovitch (1884 – 1949) in the periodical Der shtrahl, Volume one, #2 Warsaw, 1910:
ReyzlWords1ReyzlWords3ReyzlWords4ReyzlWords5ReyzlWords2

Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets (Beautiful is Reyzele, the Shokhet’s Daughter) from the Arbeter Ring’s songbook Lomir zingen (1939, NY):

Arbeter Ring1
Arbeter Ring2

Sore-Yente in Meir Noy’s Notebook:
Sore Yente Vol 1, p74-page-0

“Der shpigl mitn zeyger” Performed by Avi Fuhrman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2019 by yiddishsong

Der shpigl mitn  zeyger / The Mirror and the Clock
Sung by Avi Fuhrman
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, at Circle Lodge Camp, NY, Summer 1984.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

The text to this song was written by the classic 19th century Yiddish writer and satirist Yoel Linetski (1839 -1915) and can be found in his poetry collection Der beyzer marshelik (The Cruel Jester), 1869. The original has 12 verses, a dialogue between a mirror and a clock (scans are attached). Fuhrman remembers only one verse plus the “tra-la-la” refrain but thanks to him, as far as I know, we now have the melody.

MarshalikTitlePAge
Title page of Linetski’s Der beyzer marshelik (1869)

We have previously posted another of Linetski’s songs “Di mode”.  Yet another of his songs “Dos redele iz di gore velt” can be heard on Ruth Rubin’s fieldwork album Jewish Life: The Old Country (Smithsonian Folkways) and more recently on Jake Shulman-Ment’s recording A redele (Oriente Musik, 2015) sung by Benjy Fox-Rosen.

The text to the song (nine verses) also appears in the Yiddish song collection Der badkhn (“The Wedding Jester”, Warsaw, 1929) by Eliezer Bergman and we have attached those scanned pages. The version there is closer to Fuhrman’s and like his, and unlike the original, begins with the mirror speaking, not the clock.

The dialogue centers on the vain snobbishness of the mirror; an object that at that time was found in only the homes of wealthy families, as opposed to the clock who served all classes.

Avi (Avrom) Fuhrman was born in Chernovitz, then Romania, in 1922.  He says that all of his songs were learned from his father who often sang. Fuhrman was active in Yiddish theater in Chernovitz from a very young age.

PhotoAbrahamFuhrman

Both parents had tailoring workshops where singing was often heard. Fuhrman was a fine singer at a young age and was a soloist with Cantor Pinye Spector (Pinye Khazn) of the Boyaner Hasidim in Chernovitz.  He attended an ORT school.  During the war he was in Baku in Azerbaijan and participated in the Yiddish theater there , particularly in the “Kharkover Ensemble”. He returned to Romania, then Poland then Salzburg, Austria.  He and his wife and in-laws were on an (illegal) aliya to Israel but the path forced them to hike over a mountain and his in-laws could not manage it so they eventually came to the US in 1951.

The last line of this verse is a pun since “shpiglen zikh” can mean both “to see oneself in the mirror” as well as “delight in”

TRANSLITERATION

Batrakht nor dayn vert di narisher zeyger
Mit deym khitrerer mine firsti deym shteyger.
Di shrayst un du klopst un beyts dikh bay laytn.
Me varft dikh, me shmitst dikh in ale zaytn.
Vi shteyt mir gur un tsi reydn mit dir?
Aza nogid vi ikh bin, az me shpiglt zikh in mir.
Tra-la-la-la…..

TRANSLATION

Consider your worth you foolish clock,
With a sleazy face you lead your way of life.
You yell and you beat and plead with people.
You get thrown, beaten in all sides.
It’s beneath my dignity to talk to you.
Such a wealthy one as I whom all delight in me.
Tra-la-la-la

ShpiglYID

From Yoel Linetski’s Der beyzer marshelik, 1869:

zeyger1

zeyger2.png

zeyger3

“Bin ikh mir a shnayderl” Performed by M. M. Shaffir

Posted in Main Collection on September 3, 2019 by yiddishsong

Bin ikh mir a shnayderl / I Am a Little Tailor
Song composed and sung by M. M. Shaffir, recorded in the Bronx 1974 by Itzik Gottesman

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This song by the Montreal Yiddish poet M. M. Shaffir was recorded the same evening as previously posted “A badekns” and “Doina“. The much longer original poem and music were published in his poetry collection Ikh kum aheym (1963). Those pages are attached at the bottom of this post. 

Shaffir Reciting

Picture of a program honoring M. M. Shafir at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center, Bronx 1974. From the right: Mordkhe Schaechter, M. M. Shaffir, Saul Goodman, Moyshe Steingart. (photo by Itzik Gottesman)

The refrain “Udom yesoydo meofer, vesoyfoy leyofer” means “Man’s origin is from dust and his end is dust.” can be found in the Rosh-Hashone and Yom-kippur prayer “unsane toykef.” The irony in the song is that even a lowly “little tailor” can sing such a profound message and get the attention of the whole street.

In descriptions of shtetl life and in Yiddish literature, the tailor and, more often, the youth working in his/her tailor workshop, sang many songs while working.

TRANSLITERATION

Bin ikh mir a shnayderl
mit gildene tsen finger
Zing ikh mir a lidele –
arbet zikh mir gringer.

Zing ikh mir a lidele
leybedik in minter –
Makht di nudl din-din-din,
in di sher helft inter. 

Udom, udom oy, oy, oy, yesoydo meofor,
vesoyfoy, vesoyfoy oy, oy, oy
vesoyfoy leyofor.
vesoyfoy vesoyfoy oy oy, oy
vesoyfoy leyofor.. 

Greyt tsu tish, neshomenyu,
Dos harts iz mir farkhalesht.
I’nishtu keyn broyt in shtib –
meygsti greytn khales.

Iz keyn khale oykh nishto
meygsti greytn tortn.
Eyn mul leybt men narele,
vi se zugt zikh dortn.

Udom, udom oy, oy, oy, yesoydo meofor,
vesoyfoy, vesoyfoy oy, oy, oy
vesoyfoy leyofor.
vesoyfoy vesoyfoy oy oy, oy
vesoyfoy leyofor.

Ikh ney mitn neydele
in pres mir mitn presl
Un az ikh zing a lidele
hert dos gantse gesl.

Ikh paykl mitn fingerhit,
un klap mit di shtrumentn.
Me shteyt shoyn bay di fentserlekh –
A gite zakh derkent’n.

Udom, udom oy, oy, oy, yesoydo meofor,
vesoyfoy, vesoyfoy oy, oy, oy
vesoyfoy leyofor.
vesoyfoy vesoyfoy oy oy, oy
vesoyfoy leyofor.

In drosn geyt a regndl,
in shtibl iz a royekh.
Lo’mikh zeyn a shmeykhele
khotsh di bist fartroyert.

Ikh bin a shnayderl,
pushetlekh un prostlekh,
in zing mir tsi a lidele –
ot, kol-zman se lozt zikh…

Udom, udom oy, oy, oy, yesoydo meofor,
vesoyfoy, vesoyfoy oy, oy, oy
vesoyfoy leyofor.
vesoyfoy vesoyfoy oy oy, oy
vesoyfoy leyofor.

TRANSLATION

I am a little tailor
with ten fingers of gold.
When I sing a song,
I work with greater ease.

I sing a little song,
lively and
The needle makes the sound of din-din-din
and the scissor helps it along. 

“Man’s origin is from dust,
and his end is dust.”

Prepare the table, my dear.
My heart is fainting.
If there’s no bread at home,
then you can serve khale.

If there is also no khale,
then serve cakes.
You only live once, silly thing,
as it is written somewhere.

“Man’s origin is from dust,
and his end is dust.”

I sew with the needle
and iron with the iron.
and when I sing a song,
the whole street hears it.

I drum along with the thimble,
and bang on the instruments.
People are standing at the windows –
They recognize a good thing.

Outside it’s raining,
inside there’s smoke.
Let us see a smile
though you are saddened.

I am a little tailor
simple and plain.
and sing me a little song
as long as I can.

“Man’s origin is from dust,
and his end is dust.”

As published in M. M. Shaffir’s book Ikh kum aheym (1963):
shnaydrl1

shnaydrl2

shnaydrl3

shnaydrl4shnaydrlmus

“Az in droysn geyt a reygn vern di shteyner nas” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman and Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2019 by yiddishsong

Az in droysn geyt a reygn vern di shteyner nas
When It Rains Outside the Stones Get Wet

Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman and Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
BSG recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx, 1980s; LSW recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG) learned this lyrical love song from her mother Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW), and LSW probably learned it in her hometown of Zvinyetshke, Bukovina. At this “zingeray” (song sharing session) in the Gottesman home, one can hear other singers featured on “Yiddish Song of the Week” – Tsunye Rymer and Ita Taub  joining in:

Leybl Kahn had years earlier recorded LSW singing the same song; so we have a rare opportunity to compare the singing of the same song by mother and daughter:

In this performance BSG leaves out the second verse which she usually included. LSW does include that verse.  I have transcribed and translated both versions though they are very similar.

Both versions have the wonderful rhyme of “khipe” (wedding canopy) with “klipe” (shrew or an evil spirit that won’t leave you alone).

aznin droysn image

Painting by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

A recording of BSG singing this song with all the verses appears on the CD “Bay mayn mames shtibele” (At My Mother’s House, 2004) with violin accompaniment by Alicia Svigals

At the beginning and end of the LSW recording the collector Leybl Kahn sounds confused because LSW had just sung for him another song beginning with the same line “Az in droysn geyt a reygn”.

 BSG TRANSLITERATION

Az in droysn geyt a reygn,
vern di shteyndelekh nas.
Un az a meydele shpilt a libe
vern ire bekelekh blas.

Second verse that she left out:
Un az zi shpilt shoyn oys di libe
farlirt zi dokh ire farbn.
Un az zi shpilt nisht oys di libe,
miz zi dokh yingerheyt shtarbn]

Vos dreysti dikh mame far mayne oygn?
Dreyst dekh nor vi a klipe.
Kh’vel mit im avekforn in an anderer medine
un vel mit im shteln a khipe. 

Oy, un a shadkhn, oy vey iz der mamen,
vet ir zikh beyde nemen?
Say ez vet dir git geyn, say es vet dir shlekht geyn –
far keyn kind vil ekh dikh mer nisht kenen. 

Az in droysn geyt a reygn,
vern di shteyndelekh nas.
Un az a meydele shpilt a libe
vern ire bekelekh blas.

BSG TRANSLATION 

Outside, when it rains
the stones get wet.
And when a girl falls in love
her cheeks get pale.

Second verse that she left out:
And if the love is successful
she loses her colors.
And if the love is unrequited
then she must die

Why are you always before my eyes, mother.
You’re clinging to me like an evil spirit.
I will run away with him to a foreign land
and marry him under a canopy.

“Without a matchmaker, woe is to your mother,
you will take each other?
I don’t care if things go well, or bad with you.
I will no longer  consider you as my child”

Outside, when it rains
the stones get wet.
And when a girl falls in love
her cheeks get pale.

LSW VERSION TRANSLITERATION

Az in droysn geyt a reygn
vern di shteyndelekh nas.
In az a meydele shpilt a libe
vern ir di bekelekh blas.

In az zi shpilt di libe
vert zi dokh un di farbn
In az zi shpilt nisht oys di libe
miz zi dekh yingerheyt shtarbn.

Vus dreysti dikh, mametshkele, far mayne oygn.
Di dreyst dekh arim vi a klipe.
Ikh vel mit im avekfurn in a fremder medine
un vel mit im shteln a khipe. 

Un a shadkhn oy vey iz der mame
vet ir aykh beyde nemen.
Say es vet aykh git zayn, say ez vet aykh shlekht zan
Far keyn kind, vil ikh dekh mer nit kenen. 

Say es vet aykh git zayn, say ez vet aykh shlekht zayn
Far keyn kind, vil ikh dekh mer nit kenen.
Say es vet dir git zayn, say ez vet aykh shlekht zayn
Far keyn kind, vil ikh dekh mer nit kenen. 

LSW TRANSLATION

Outside, when it rains
the stones get wet.
And when a girl has a love
her cheeks get pale.

And if the love is successful
she loses her colors.
and if the love unrequited
then she must die

Why are you always before my eyes, mother.
You’re clinging to me like an evil spirit.
I will run away with him to a foreign land
and marry him under a canopy.

“Without a matchmaker, woe is to your mother,
you will take each other?
I don’t care if things go well, or bad with you.
I will no longer consider you as my child”

droysn1droysn2droysn3

droysn4

droysn5b

“Borukh Shulman – Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn” Performed by Leo Summergrad

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2019 by yiddishsong

Borukh Shulman – Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn
Borukh Shulman – Another Grave, Another Sacrifice
Sung by Leo Summergrad, recorded in New York City, 1959 by Leo Summergrad

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In 1906, in Warsaw, radical 19 year-old Borukh Shulman (Polish: Baruch Szulman1886 – 1906) threw a bomb and killed the hated Tsarist police chief Konstantinov. What happened next differs in various versions of the song.  In one version, he escapes on the trolley but when he heard a wounded comrade David Apt call him back, he returned to shoot three policemen before he was killed. In another version he killed himself after killing the police. 

ShulmanPhotoImage of Borukh Shulman published in Shmuel Lehman’s
collection Arbet un Frayhayt (Warsaw, 1921)

The majority of versions begin with the line “Vi s’iz gekumen der ershter Rusisher May” (“As soon as the Russian first of May arrived”). 

This song seems to have been quite popular before the 1950s. It appears in the Workmen’s Circle collection Zing mit mir (1945) with the music (see scan below). Leo Summergrad says he probably learned this two-verse version in his “Ordn” folkshule (secular Yiddish school) in NY.

In 1950, Yankl Goldman also sang a two-verse version that is preserved in the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO.  Goldman’s version was printed, words and music, in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive, p. 143 (Slobin/Mlotek Detroit, 2007).  According to the YIVO website, Goldman was born in 1885 in Warsaw, and had been a needle trades factory worker. Here is that recording:

The “Warsaw Revolutionary Choir” recently sang a longer version of Borukh Shulman at his grave in the Warsaw Jewish cemetery. Here is a link to video link.

A nine-verse variant with music appears in Shmuel Lehman’s collection Arbet un Frayhayt (Warsaw, 1921) p. 64-66 (see scan below). We have also transliterated and translated this version, the longest one. 

Other versions were printed in S. Bastomski’s Yidishe folkslider (Vilnius, 1923)  p. 90-91 (text only, see scan below), Aharon Vinkovetsky et al..  “Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs” (1987) volume 4 and Sofia Magid’s collection Unser Rebbe und unser Stalin (Grozinger/Hudak-Lazic) p. 244.  

Thanks this week to Karolina Szymaniak, the YIVO Sound Archives, Lorin Sklamberg and Leo Summergrad. 

TRANSLITERATION (Summergrad version)

Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn
Nokh a lebn iz tseshtert fun der velt.
Nokh a kemfer iz opgeshtorbn
Borukh Shulman der bavuster held.

Veynt nit brider, veynt nit shvester.
veynt nit muter nokh ayer kind.
Az es falt, falt der bester:
Der vos hot undz getray gedint. 

TRANSLATION (Summergrad version)

Another grave, another sacrifice.
Another life destroyed in this world.
Another fighter has died –
Borukh Shulman the famous hero.

Don’t cry brother, don’t cry sister;
don’t cry mother for you child.
When someone falls, it is the best that falls.
He who served us faithfully.

Note regarding Lehman Version: The expression “gekrogn a khap”, literally “got a catch” is unkown to me and probably means “got what was coming to him” or “got a surprise”

TRANSLITERATION (Lehman’s Version)

Vi es iz gekumen der ershter rusisher may
hot men derhert in gas a klap:
Dos gantse folk hot zikh getun freyen:
Konstantinov hot gekrogn a khap. 

Borekh Shulman iz in gas gegangen,
gegangen iz er tsu dem toyt.
Gezegnt hot zikh mit zayne khaverim
mit der bombe in der hant. 

Borekh Shulman iz in gas gegangen,
bagegnt hot er dem tiran;
Mit der bombe hot ir im tserisn
Konstantinov dem tiran. 

Borekh Shulman iz afn tramvay arof,
hot Dovid Apt gegebn a geshrey;
“Borekh, Borekh! Vu lozstu mikh iber,
tsvishn di tiranen eyner aleyn?”

Borekh Shulman iz fun tramvay arop,
gegangen rateven zayn khaver Apt.
Aroysgenumen hot er dem revolver
un hot geharget dray soldatn. 

Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn,
nokh a lebn iz tseshtert fun der velt.
Nokh a kemfer iz opgeshtrobn –
Borekh Shulman der bavuster held.

Veynt nisht shvester, veynt nisht brider,
troyert nisht muter nokh ayer kind!
Az es falt, falt der bester,
der vos hot nor getray gedint. 

Dayne khaverim, zey shteyen bay dayn keyver,
zey gisn trern yede minut.
Rakhe veln mir fun di tiranen nemen,
far undzer khavers fargosn blut. 

Sheyne blumen tuen blien,
bay Borekhs keyver af der velt.
Dos gantse folk vet kumen knien
far Borekh Shulman dem bavustn held. 

TRANSLATION (Lehman’s Version)

Upon the arrival of the Russian May 1st
an explosion was heard in the street.
All the people were celebrating –
Konstantinov got a “catch”. [surprise?]

Borekh Shulman was going in the street,
he was going to his death.
He bid farewell to his comrades
with a bomb in his hands. 

Borekh Shulman was going in the street,
and he met the tyrant.
With the bomb he ripped him apart –
Konstantinov the tyrant. 

Borekh Shulman got on the trolley,
Dovid Apt gave a yell:
“Borekh! Borekh! How can you leave me
Along among these tyrants!”

Borekh Shulman got off the trolley.
He went to save his friend Apt.
He took out his revolver
and killed three soldiers.

Another grave, another sacrifice,
another life destroyed in this world.
Another fighter has died –
Borekh Shulman the famous hero.

Cry not sister, cry not brother,
do not lament, mother, for your child.
When one of us falls, he is the best one –
he who served us faithfully.

Your friends, they stand at your grave
They pour tears every minute.
We will take revenge upon the tyrants,
for the spilled blood of our comrade.

Beautiful flowers blossom
at Borekh’s grave in this world [?]
All entire nation will come and kneel
for Borekh Shulman the great hero.

S. Bastomski’s Yidishe folkslider (Vilnius, 1923)  p. 90-91
BastomskiShulman

Shmuel Lehman’s collection Arbet un Frayhayt (Warsaw, 1921) p. 63-66:ShulmanLehman1ShulmanLehman3ShulmanLehman4

Zing mit mir (Workmen’s Circle, 1945), p. 70-71:ShulmanZingMitMIr

“Geven amol a kleyne vantse” Performed by Gerald and Jocelyn Cooper

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2019 by yiddishsong

Geven amol a kleyne vantse / There once was a small bedbug
Gerald Cooper and Jocelyn Cooper
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Greene Family Camp, Waco Texas  1993

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The Coopers learned this playful song while attending the Habonim summer camp near Montreal (probably Camp Kissufim) in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The song fits into a common children’s song genre of more and more letters or syllables disappearing with each verse until there is silence. The  camp song “BINGO” comes to mind as an American example. Gerald Cooper said the song would typically be sung around a bonfire.
images

The Yiddish word for bedbug is “vants” (too bad Alan Alda’s Hawkeye didn’t know this in the M*A*S*H episode “38 Across” – tune in at 7:33) not “vantse/vantze” which is German. But by playfully adding a syllable to the words “vants” and “tants” to form “vantse” and “tantse”, the song has added a verse.

I have only translated the first verse since it is clear what is going on.

Thanks to Simcha Raphael, Evelyn Tauben for helping with this week’s post.

TRANSLITERATION

Geven a mol a kleyne vantse.
Hot zi zeyer lib gehat tsu tantse.
Kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di vantze tantze;
kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di vantse tantze.

Geven a mol a kleyne vants
hot zi zeyer lib gehat tsu tants.
Kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di vants tants, tants
Kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di vants tants, tants.

Geven a mol a kleyne van
hot zi zeyer lib gehat tsu tan
kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di van tan tan
kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di van tan tan

Geven a mol a kleyne va
hot zi zeyer lib gehat tsu ta
kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di va ta ta
kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di va ta ta.

Geven a mol a kleyne “v”
hot zi zeyer lib gehat “t”
kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di v – t – t
kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di v- t- t

Geven a mol a kleyne (silence)
hot zi zeyer lib gehat tsu (silence)
kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di (silence)
kuk zikh tsu, kuk zikh ayn
vi di (silence)

TRANSLATION

There once was a small bedbug-O
That loved very much to dance-O.
Look, look
how the bedbug-O dances-O.
Look, look
how the bedbug-O dances-O.
vantse clip