Archive for Avrom Reisen

“Der nakhtvekhter” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2018 by yiddishsong

Der nakhtvekhterThe Night Watchman
Words by Avrom Reyzen, performance by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, 1980s Bronx

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

Beyle Schaechter Gottesman (BSG) remembers learning this song in Jewish school in Chernovitz, Romania in the 1930s. She attended two schools: the Morgnroyt, a Bundist (socialist) school, every day after Romanian public school. On Sundays she attended the Yidisher shul-fareyn which was more left. She remembers learning Nakhtvekhter  at the Morgnroyt school.

Nightwatchman 4 The words are by Avrom Reyzen (1876 – 1953), a beloved Yiddish writer whose poetry was often turned into song.  In Reisin’s volume of selected poetry (Di lider, 1951) he placed this poem among his earliest, so we can assume it was written around the turn of the century.  We are attaching a scan of the words as they appear in that volume. BSG’s version varies slightly.  When she repeats the last two lines of each verse, she corrects herself twice when she felt she had sung those lines incorrectly the first time.

I have not found any recordings yet. Paul Lamkoff composed a different melody to the poem and it can be heard at the Milken Archive of Jewish Music.


Der nakhtvekhter

Shpeyt di nakht iz kalt in fintster.
Neypldik in nas.
In di hayzer ruen ale
shtil un toyt in gas
In di hayzer ruen ale
toyt in shtim in gas.

Elnt shlept zikh nokh der vekhter
of der gas arim.
in di shtile hayzer kikt er
troyerik in shtim.
In di shtile hayzer kikt er
troyerik in shtim.

Dort in veykhn varem betl
shluft zikh azoy git.
Oy, vi voltn mayne beyner
Dort zikh oysrerit.
Oy, vi voltn mayne beyner
Dort zikh oysrerit.

In er klugt zikh farn himl –
zey mayn troyer tsi!
Ikh aleyn hob gornisht, hit ikh
yenems shluf un ri.
Ikh aleyn hob gornisht, hit ikh
yenems gits un ri.

The Night Watchman

Late at night, it’s cold and dark,
foggy and wet.
In the houses all are resting
Silent and dead on the street.
In the houses all are resting
dead and silent on the street.

Alone, the watchman drags himself
along the street.
He looks into the quiet houses
sadly and silently.
He looks into the quiet houses
sadly and silently.

There in a soft warm bed
one sleeps so well.
Oh, how my bones would
love to rest there.
Oh, how my bones would
love to rest there.

And he laments to the heavens –
witness my sorrow!
I myself have nothing, so I guard
another’s sleep and rest.
I myself have nothing, so I watch
another’s goods and rest.

nakhtvekhter

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“A sikele, a kleyne” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

A sikele, a kleyne is based on a popular poem by Avrom Reisen called „In suke.‟ I know of at least three recordings: Louis Danto’s Masters of the Jewish Art Song; Yiddish Classics (a.k.a. Heymishe Yidishe Klangen volume one, 1991); and the version on the recent CD Tsuker Zis by Lorin Sklamberg and Frank London. The Danto version is with a different melody by Joel Engel. The other two are similar to the one sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG) which she learned in her hometown of Chernovitz, Romania.

Only Danto‘s version uses Reisin‘s original poem. The words differ in the other versions, verses were added, and the song was widely folklorized. In Shmuel Lehman‘s Ganovim lider (Thieve‘s Songs) he includes an underworld song sung to the same melody.

In 2001 or 2002 I interviewed one of the producers of the Yiddish Classics CD and he mentioned that a rabbi called and complained about their Sukele version because it left out the final verse that BSG includes.

BSG (my mother) was born in Vienna, raised in Chernovitz and came to the US in 1951. She is a poet, songwriter and singer, awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2005 for her Yiddish singing, songs and poetry.

Photograph of Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman by Joan Roth

She is the daughter of the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) whose performances have been posted on this blog a number of times. Whereas LSW‘s singing reflects a 19th century small shtetl style, her daughter captures the urban Yiddish singing style of the interwar period. You can hear more of her singing traditional repertoire on the CD Bay mayn mames shtibele.

Final note: the pitch sounds a little high on this recording done in our Bronx home in the 1980s.

A sikele a kleyne,
mit breytelekh gemeyne
hob ikh mir mit tsures tsunoyfgeklopt.
Tsigedekt deym dakh,
mit a bisele skhakh.
un ikh zits mir in sikele un trakht.

A little sukkah
with simple boards,
I barely put together.
I covered the roof
with a little skhakh, 
and I sit in the little sukkah and think.

Der vint der kalter,
bluzt derekh di shpalter
in lesht mir di lekhtelekh shir oys.
Herts nor a khidesh,
kom makh ikh nor kidish.
Der vint lesht di lekhtelekh oys.

The cold wind
blows throught the cracks
and almost blows the candles out.
Listen to this wonder –
only when I finish saying the kiddush, 
then the candles blow out. 

Mit a groys geveyn,
mit a biter geshrey,
kimt dekh mayn vabele aran.
Her nor man man,
Der vint varft dus sikele bold an,
Oy, vus vet dernukh dem zan?

With a great cry,
with a bitter yell,
my wife comes inside.
„Listen my husband,
The wind will soon blow the sukkah down,
Oh, what will happen then?‟

Gey zay nisht keyn nar,
un hob nisht keyn tsar,
un loz dir der vint nisht ongeyn.
vifl vintn s‘veln brimen,
vifl doyres s‘veln kimen,
dos sikele vet eybik shteyn.

„Don‘t be a fool,
and don‘t have any grief,
and don‘t worry about the wind.
No matter how many winds will roar
No matter how many generations will come,
the sukkah will always remain standing.