Archive for beauty

“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:

“Kale lebn, kale lebn” A Badkhn Parody Performed by Dora Libson

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Kale lebn, kale lebn
A badkhn parody sung by Dora Libson
Recorded by Lionel Libson, 1977

Transcribed by Eliezer Niborski, English translation by Itzik Gottesman.

Kale-lebמ, kale-lebn
Kale-lebn, kale-lebn,
Meyn darfsti veynen un shrayen.
Az zolst hobn aza velt azoy zis
vi borsht fun klayen.
Un zolst darfn geyn borgn un layen.
Un zolst keyn mol nit aroys
funem rov un funem dayen.

Dear bride, dear bride,
You should cry and scream some more.
You should have a world so sweet
as borsht made with bran.
You should rely on borrowing and lending.
And may you never get out from 
the rabbi and his assistant.

Oy, a ber un a shver un a shlimazelnitse 
zenen dokh oykhet darbay.
A ber hot a langn veydl 
un a shver hot lib a sheyn meydl.
Un az a shlimezalnitse geyt in mark – 
fardripet zi dus kleydl.

Oy, a bear and a father-in-law and an unlucky woman
are also present. 
A bear has a long tail,
and a father-in-law loves a pretty girl.
And when an unlucky woman goes to market
she spatters her dress

Oy, a bukher un a meydl un a shlimezalnitse
zenen dokh oykhet darbay.
A bukher az er geyt avek heyst men zikh im nit (h)aylen.
un a meydl, az zi geyt avek heyst men zikh ir nit zamen.
Un az me shikt a shlimezalnitse nokh fleysh 
brengt zi plyamen.

Oy, a young man and girl and an unlucky woman
are present as well. 
A young men when he leaves is told not to hurry
and a girl, when she leaves is told not to wait.
And when you send an unlucky woman to buy meat
she comes back with stains. 

כּלה־לעבן, כּלה־לעבן
,מיין דאַרפֿסטו וויינען און שרײַען
אַז זאָלסט האָבן אַ וועלט אַזוי זיס
.ווי באָרשט פֿון קלײַען
,זאָלסט דאַרפֿן גיין באָרגן און לײַען
און זאָלסט קיין מאָל ניט אַרויס
.פֿונעם רבֿ און פֿונעם דיין

אוי, אַ בער און אַ שווער און אַ שלימזלניצע
.זענען דאָך אויכעט דערבײַ
אַ בער האָט אַ לאַנגן וויידל
.און אַ שווער האָט ליב אַ שיין מיידל
–און אַ שלימזלניצע גייט אין מאַרק
.פֿאַרדריפּעט זי דאָס קליידל

אוי, אַ בחור און אַ מיידל און אַ שלימזלניצע
.זענען אויכעט דערבײַ
אַ בחור, אַז ער גייט אַוועק, הייסט מען זיך אים ניט אײַלן, [אַרויסגערעדט „הײַלן”]
,און אַ מיידל, אַז זי גייט אַוועק, הייסט מען זיך איר ניט זאַמען
,און אַז מע שיקט אַ שלימזלניצע נאָך פֿלייש
… ברענגט זי פּליאַמען 
[“וואַריאַנט־מערצאָל פֿון „פּליאַמע“ = „פֿלעק]

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In the spirit of Purim this week, we present a parody of a badkhn’s bazetsns.  Before the ceremony of veiling the bride, the wedding entertainer, the badkhn, used to address the bride, reminding her of the youth that she leaves behind and how to lead an observant Jewish life with her husband. Sometimes the rhymes would be a stretch, almost non-sensical  and that is at the heart of the parodies.

I believe the repeated lines in our parody “…are also present” are mocking the lines of the badkhn when he reminds the bride that although her parents or grandparents may have died, they are with her today at this happy occassion. 

The badkhn parodies are usually of the bazetsns, the seating, and the badekns, the veiling; two emotional moments before the marriage under the khupe/canopy. The bazetsns is strickly a women’s ceremony, except for the badkhn, and a time of much weeping. I have added below two pages from Hayyim Schauss’s work The Lifetime of a Jew (1976) in which he discusses these moments at the wedding. Schauss was a Litvak from Lithuania so much of what he describes is particularly true of his region. It is worth reading.

This is a link to a “real” badekns, not a parody, as sung by Majer Bogdanski, born 1912 in Piotrkow-Tribunalsky, Poland, from the CD Yiddish songs / Yiddishe liders:

One can also see the badkhn perform in such Yiddish films “Yidl mitn fidl” “Uncle Moses” and “The Dybbuk”. The badkhn tradition has made a comeback in today’s Hasidic world and many examples can be found on YouTube. As far as I can tell, they have become mainly comics, and do not paricipate in other wedding ceremonies.

To get a feel for the type of music that might be played at the bazetsn, here is violinist Jutta Bogen playing an example (from Pete- this one has the structue of a Romanian doina):

Many such bazetsnbadekn parodies were recorded on 78 RPMs in the 1910s- 1930s, and even later. Here is Henri Gerro’s Kolomeyer badchn. The badkhones parody begins at 1:00.  

Further reading on the badkhn:

1) Article by Joel Rosenberg “Badkhones in Life and Cinema” on the website In geveb
2) “Badkhonim” in the YIVO Encyclopedia by Jean Baumgarten.
3) Book: הבדחן (in Hebrew) by Ariela Krasney

Special thanks this week to Eliezer Niborski who transcribed the recording. 

Excerpt from Hayyim Schauss’s work The Lifetime of a Jew (1976):

“Di zin fargeyt far nakht” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

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די זון פֿאַרגייט פֿאַר נאַכט / Di zin fargeyt far nakht / The Sun Sets at Dusk
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954.

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman at a NY bungalow colony, 1950s

TRANSLITERATION

Di zin fargeyt far nakht. Dus meydele shteyt in drosn.
Di bekelekh vern ir nas.  Di koykhes geyen ir os.
Zi shteyt in vart af deym ort,vi zi fleygt im tumid zeyn.
Itst shteyt zi azoy lang in vart du aleyn. 

Du vi ikh shtey in mayne trern tien gisn.
O du, o du iz dus ertele vi mir fleygn mir beyde shmisn. 
Ot du o iz do iz dus ertele vi mir fleygn beyde shteyn.
Itstert bin ikh nebekh geblibn aleyn. 

Mamenyu getraye, vus eksti mir mayn leybn.
Di ‘ost bay mir tsigenimen mayn khayes, mayn gold.
Host bay mir tsigenemen mayn rekhte hant.
Host im farshikt in a fremd land.

Sheyn bisti lyube af deym tuvl tse muln.
Se nishtu aza keyser dayn sheynkeyt tsi batsuln.
Sheyn bisti lyube tsi sheyn iz dayn numen.
Dayne sheyne bekelekh vi di sheyne blumen.

Mamenyu, ikh beyt ‘ekh breng im tsirik.
Breyng mir mayn leybn breng mir mayn glik. 

TRANSLATION

The sun sets at dusk. The girl is standing outside.
Her cheeks are getting wet. Her strength is weakening.
She stands and waits at that place where she always saw him. 
Now she stands, alas, so long waiting alone.

Here where I stand and my tears gush.
Oh, here is the place where we always used to talk.
Here is the spot where we used to stand.
Now I , alas, am left alone.

Mother dear, why do  you shorten my years?
You took away my life, my gold.
You took away my right hand.
And sent him away to a strange land.

Beautiful, you are my love to paint on the tablet.
There is no emperor who can pay for your beauty.
Beautiful, you are my love, too beautiful is your name.
Your beautiful cheeks, like the beautiful flowers.


Mother, I beg you, bring him back.
Bring me my dearest, bring me my happiness.

די זין פֿאַרגייט פֿאַר נאַכט
געזונדען פֿון ליפֿשע שעכטער־ווידמאַן
רעקאָרדירט פֿון לייבל כּהן, 1954, ניו־יאָרק

.די זון פֿאַרגייט פֿאַר נאַכט, דאָס מיידעלע שטייט אין דרויסן
.די בעקעלעך ווערן איר נאַס, די כּוחות גייען איר אויס
.זי שטייט און וואַרט אויף דעם אָרט, וווּ זי פֿלעגט אים תּמיד זען
.איצט שטייט זי אַזוי לאַנג און וואַרט דאָ אַליין

.דאָ וווּ איך שטיי ־ און מײַנע טרערן טוען גיסן
.אָט דאָ אָ דאָ איז דאָס ערטעלע, וווּ מיר פֿלעגן מיר ביידע שמיסן
.אָט דאָ אָ דאָ איז דאָס ערטעלע, וווּ מיר פֿלעגן ביידע שטיין
.איצטערט בין איך, נעבעך, געבליבן אַליין

.מאַמעניו געטרײַע, וואָס עקסטו מיר מײַן לעבן
.דו האָסט בײַ מיר צוגענעמען מײַן חיות, מײַן גאָלד
.האָסט בײַ מיר צוגענעמען מײַן רעכטע האַנט
 .האָסט אים פֿאַרשיקט אין אַ פֿרעמד לאַנד

.שיין ביסטו ליובע, אויף דעם טאָוול צו מאָלן
.סע נישטאָ אַזאַ קייסער דײַן שיינקייט צו באַצאָלן
.שיין ביסטו ליובע, צו שיין איז דײַן נאָמען
.דײַנע שיינע בעקעלעך, ווי די שיינע בלומען

.מאַמעניו, איך בעט דיך, ברענג אים צוריק
.ברענג מיר מײַן לעבן. ברענג מיר מײַן גליק

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Di zin fargeyt far nakht is among Lifshe Schaechter Widman’s (LSW’s) most moving performances– and that ending!

I have found 3 other variants of the song which I am attaching: one from Zhitomir (Ukraine) in Skuditski’s Folklor-lider (1936) p.153;  one from the Kovensk region in Lithuania in the Ginzburg and Marek collection Yidishe folkslider in Rusland (1901) p. 168; and one in Nukhem (Natan) Shakhnovskiy’s Lider gezungen funem folk (1948) p. 20. Shakhnovsky was from Kremenchuk in the Ukraine and it seems most of the songs were heard there. In Shakhnovsky is there a printed melody similar to LSW’s. The texts of the two versions from the Ukraine are quite similar while the Lithuanian one has a refrain not found in the others. All of these variants are attached below.

The folk poetry of this song is quite striking and I believe it is quite old. I translated “tovl”, which usually means blackboard, as “tablet”, but “slate” or “board” are also possible translations. The emphasis on the place where they met and spent time together is beautiful in its simplicity. 

Skuditski’s Folklor-lider (1936) p.153:

Nukhem (Natan) Shakhnovskiy’s Lider gezungen funem folk (1948) p. 20:

Skuditski’s Folklor-lider (1936) p.153:

¨Me geyt shoyn tsi der khipe” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter Widman

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Me geyt shoyn tsi der khipe / They’re Already Walking to the Khupe!
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954 NYC.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Though Lifshe Schaechter Widman (LSW) introduces the song by saying it used to be sung on the way to the khupe (wedding canopy), it is a song mocking the wedding, not a part of the ceremony by any means.

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 5.10.13 PMImage of a Wedding Procession by Isaak Ashknaziy, 1893

The melody to this song was probably inspired by the klezmer tune known as the “Odesser Bulgar” found in Kammen collection “Dance Folio No.1 #18. (Thanks to Michael Alpert for pointing this out). Here is a link to the Alexandria Kleztet from the D.C. area and their version of the Odesser Bulgar:

In addition to LSW’s, two other texts to this song can be found in the Shmuel Zanvel Pipe song collection Folklore Research Centre Studies, Volume 2, Jerusalem, 1971, (edited by Meir and Dov Noy). They have been scanned and attached. The first version is in the body of the text and includes the melody. The second is in the end notes and includes different words and a second section of the melody as Meir Noy, also a Galitsyaner from Kolomyia (Yid = Kolomey) remembered it. LSW’s melody also has a second section or the begining of one.

The image of the fiddle “speaking” at the wedding (in essence warning the young couple) reminds one of the Itzik Manger poem “Der badkhn”, music by Henekh Kon.

Nor vos zogt der fidl, zog fidele zog!
¨Di sheynkayt iz sheyn, nor sheynkeyt fargeyt.¨
Azoy zogt der fidl un vos zogt di fleyt?

What does the fiddle say, tell us fiddle!”
“Beauty is nice, but beauty fades.”
So says the fiddle and what says the flute?

The only word in LSW’s version that is still not clear is “sekl” or “seke”; a word not found in the Yiddish dictionaries but “seke” does also appear in the second version in the notes of the Pipe collection. Michael Alpert suggests it could be a klezmer term for the sekund; the rhythmic and harmonic fiddle in klezmer music.

The word “opgeklogt”, pronounced by LSW as “u’geklugt” is open to interpretation, but I believe she means “good riddance, the parents have suffered enough”. In Pipe’s versions the line is “A yingl hot a meydl ongeklogt” which has a completely different meaning, but also open to interpretation.

Special thanks for helping with the blog post this week: Eliezer Niborski who transcribed LSW’s version, Michael Alpert, Josh Waletzky, Mark Slobin, Pete Rushefsky.

TRANSLITERATION AND TRANSLATION

LSW speaks: “A lid vus me fleyg zingen az me geyt tsi der khipe in Galitsye, in Bukovina.”
A song that used to be sung on the way to the khupe [marriage canopy] in Galicia and Bukovina.

[Un] Me geyt shoyn tsi der khipe, me geyt!
Me trasket un me fliasket, s’iz a freyd!
Herts nor vus der fidl zugt:
“A bukher mit a moyd u’geklugt” [opgeklugt]

[And] They’s already walking to the khupe!
People are banging and celebrating, what a joy!
Listen to what the fiddle says:
“Good riddance to the bride and groom”

Un dort der bas mit der sekl (seke?):
Niech będzie na długo i na wieki’ [Polish]

And there the bass and the sekund (fiddle)
[Polish]: May it be for long and forever.

Un aykh makhuteyniste – git-morgn!
Ir hot shoyn frishe zorgn:
Me bayt di rayneshlekh af kronen.
Me zikht a voynung vi tse voynen.

And you my mother-in-law – good morning!
You have fresh worries:
You have to exchange the Rhenish for Kronen [currency]
and find a place to live.

REPEAT FIRST VERSE

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 3.47.42 PM

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 3.47.59 PM

Instrumental klezmer version of the melody  found in J. & J. Kammenś collection Dance Folio No.1, #18:

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 4.03.18 PM

Version found in Shmuel Zanvel Pipeś song collection Folklore Research Centre Studies, Volme 2, Jerusalem, 1971, (edited by Meir and Dov Noy):

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 4.04.06 PMScreenshot 2020-08-14 at 4.04.26 PM

“Vus a mul brent dus fayer greser” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

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Vus a mul brent dus fayer greser / The Fire Burns Stronger Each Day
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn NY  1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Yet another lyrical love song from the repertory of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW). In this dialogue, the women speaks first then the second and third verses are spoken by the man. postcardIn the Ruth Rubin Archive, Frida Lobell begins her version with the following verse:

Keyner veyst nisht vi mir iz biter (No one knows how bitter I feel)
keyner veyst nisht vi mir iz shlekht. (No one knows how bad I feel)
Keyner veyst nisht vi ikh tsiter (No one knows how I shake)
az di furst fin mir avek. (When you leave me) 

Other versions of this version can be found in “Folkslider in Galitsye”, Oyzer Pipe and Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe, YIVO-bleter vol. Xl no. 1-2, 1937 songs #36 and #37 and Cahan Yidisher folklor, 1938, #55. But LSW’s last line, “Your beauty will fade like the dew in the open field” is the most poetic.

TRANSLITERATION

“Vus a mul vert dus fayer greser,
ven ikh zey dekh mit a tsveyter geyn.
Shtekhn vel ikh meykh mit a meser.
Mer zol ikh fin dir dus nisht zeyn.”

“Shtekh dekh nisht, mayn tayer zis leybn,
vayl dayn plage iz dokh gur imzist.
Ikh bin tsi mazl a khusn gevorn
in dir loz Got bashern veymen di vi’st.

Di vi’st dekh meynen, di bist di shenste,
in di angenemste af der velt.
Dan sheynkeyt vet fargeyn
azoy vi di rose afn frayen feld.
Oy, dayn sheynkeyt vet fargeyen
vi di rose afn frayen feld.”

TRANSLATION

“The fire burns stronger each day
when I see you standing with another.
I will stab myself with a knife –
I don’t want to see this any more.” 

“Don’t stab yourself my beloved
For your suffering is for naught.
I am now luckily engaged,
and may God grant you whomever you want. 

You thought you were the most beautiful
and the most pleasant in the world.
Your beauty will fade
like the dew in the open field.”

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“Mentshn shteyt oyf gants fri” Performed by Avi Fuhrman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2020 by yiddishsong

Mentshn shteyt oyf gants fri / People, Wake Up Early
A version of  “Der gevisser may” by Yitskhok-Yoel Linetski
Sung by Avi Fuhrman, recorded by Itzik Gottesman at Circle Lodge camp, 1984


Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Yiddish songs written about May in the 1890s and 1900s, were, of course, related to May 1st and the worker’s movement. But Yitskhok-Yoel Linetski published this in 1869 in his collection Der beyzer marshelik, before May 1 acquired its social significance. So it’s a song about “the merry month of May”. Here is a version recorded I recorded from Avi Fuhrman at the Circle Lodge camp in Upstate New York in 1984.

AviFuhrmanAvi Fuhrman at Circle Lodge (photo by Itzik Gottesman)

This is now the third Linetski song on the blog: “Di mode” (sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman) and “Der shpigl mitn zeyger” (also sung by Furhman) were previously posted. The original song entitled “Der geviser may” [The well-known May] has thirteen verses plus the refrain. Furhman’s version includes verses one, five and nine and the refrain.

In the Ruth Rubin Archive singer Sam Gold from Lipkan, Bessarabia, sings a similar version: “Shteyt nor oyf mentshn gants fri“.  His third verse is verse eleven in Linetski’s text. The link to that version can be heard here. 

TRANSLITERATION

Mentshn shteyt oyf gants fri.
Dervakht fun ayer geleyger.
Hert di sheyne harmoni
fun dem natirlekhn zeyger.
Vi di beymelekh royshn un feygelekh zingen.
Melodis zingen feygelekh alerley.
Heysheriklekh tantsn un shpringen
Un tsim takt iz du der solovey.

[REFRAIN]:
Mentshn makht aykh fray.
git iber ayere gedanken gur.
Tsu deym may, deym zisn may
di kroyn fun der heyliker natur

Batrakh nor, ikh beyt aykh, dem altn boym
Er iz naket un a blat.
Der may nemt im shoyn di mus
Un tit im un a grinem khalat.
Batrakht nor atsinder dem altn shturmak
er hot dokh shoyn gur an ander punem.
Er bakimt shoyn oykh a bisl farb in der bak
Un shtipt zikh shoyn tvishn ale makhetunim.

[REFRAIN]

Leygt avek damen, mamzeln
fargenign fun zilber un gold.
Treyt nor ariber di shveln
in shpatsirt af der shtut bizn tifn vald.
Batrakht nor di royz, zi trugt kayn briliantn nit.
Shener iz zi, akh’ lebn, [vi] a sakh fun aykh.
Zi trugt nisht keyn perln un dimantn
un komplimentn hot zi mer fun aykh.

[REFRAIN]

TRANSLATION

People, arise real early.
Awaken from your beds.
Listen to the beautiful harmony
from the clock of nature,
how the trees rustle and birds sing.
The birds sing all kinds of melodies.
Crickets dance and jump
and in rhythm is the nightingale. 

[REFRAIN]:
People make yourselves free.
Give over all of your thoughts
to May, the sweet May,
the crown of the holy nature. 

Consider, I ask you, the old tree.
He is naked, not a leaf.
May takes his measurements
And dresses him in a new robe.
Consider now that old dotard.
He has a completely different appearance.
He is getting a little color in his cheek.
And pushes his way through among the in-laws.

[REFRAIN]

Put away, ladies and misses,
your pleasure of silver and gold.
Step over the doorsteps
and take a walk through the city to the deep woods.
Consider the rose: it wears no diamonds.
It is more beautiful, I swear, than many of you.
It wears no pearls, no diamonds.
Yet she gets more complements than you.

[REFRAIN]

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Below: Linetski’s original text “Geviser may” in Beyzer Marshelik (1869):
Screenshot 2020-04-23 at 1.09.56 PMScreenshot 2020-04-23 at 1.10.19 PMScreenshot 2020-04-23 at 1.10.33 PM

“Khidesht zikh nisht” Performed by M.M. Shaffir

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2020 by yiddishsong

Khidesht zikh nisht / Don’t be surprised
A song composed and sung by M. M. Shaffir, recorded in the Bronx by Itzik Gottesman, 1974.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

This post marks the tenth year anniversary of the blog “Yiddish Song of the Week”!  We have been more than a little pleased with the effect it has had on singers, researchers and lovers of Yiddish song. We welcome all field or home recordings of Yiddish songs, particularly if they are lesser known or rarely sung nowadays. The quality of the recording or talent of the singer are not significant issues in this blog. Here is to ten more years!

Khidesht zikh nisht is the fourth and last song on this blog written and sung by the Montreal poet M. M. (Moyshe-Mordkhe) Shaffir (1909 – 1988); all recorded in the Bronx around the Gottesman’s dining room table in 1974. He dedicated this song to another Yiddish poet in Montreal, Ida Maze (1893 – 1962, pronounced “Ayde”, also known as Ida Massey) whose home became the Yiddish literary salon of that city. Something she said inspired Shaffir to write it but unfortunately I could not understand the whole story from the recording. 

1936Montreal Yiddish writers 1936: back row left M. M. Shafir, next to him Shabsai Perl. Front row: Ida Maze left, Kadya Molodowsy center, Yudika, right. From the collection of the Jewish Public Library in Montreal.

Shaffir sings three verses which were printed with the music in his collection A stezhke (1940). Those pages which include the Yiddish text are attached. In a later collection he added three more verses.

TRANSLITERATION

Khidesht zikh nisht, vus ikh bin
azoy sheyn gevorn.
Di mame zugt, a khusn kimt,
Oyb nisht haynt iz morgn. 

Don’t be surprised that
I became so pretty.
Mom says a prospective groom is coming,
if not today then tomorrow. 

Di mame zugt az fin Candren.
Vus art es mikh fin vanen?
Ale mayne khavertes
zenen mikh mekane.

Mom says that he’s from Candren [town in Bukovina]
What do I care where from?
All my girlfriends
will envy me.

Di zin iz hant an ondere
un ondere di veygn…
Kh’volt gefreygt di mameshe –
sheym ikh mikh tsi freygn.

The sun today is different
and different are the roads…
I would put a question to my mom
but am ashamed to ask.

Kh’ob ungetin a likhtik kleyd
un a shnirl royte kreln –
epes zugt in mir dus harts
az kh’el im gefeln.

I put on a bright dress
and a necklace of red beads –
something tells me in my heart
that he will like me.

From M.M. Shaffir’s collection A stezhke (1940), p. 158:
Shaffir1

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

“Vus hosti dekh azoy ayngelibt in mir?” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2019 by yiddishsong

Vus hosti dekh azoy ayngelibt in mir? / Why did you fall so in love with me?
A lyric love song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman.
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NYC

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Yet another lyric love song, a dialogue between boy and girl, from Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW], recorded by Leybl Kahn. She most probably learned this in her home town in the Bukovina, Zvinyetshke. The song implies that the “Christian Hospital” is the worst place for a person to be.

kahnlswnotes

 A page from Leybl Kahn’s notes on LSW’s songs, 1954-55.

The typical four-line stanza in Yiddish lyric song usually has an ABCB rhyming scheme. In this song, the singer rhymes “gezeyn” with “fayn” in the 2nd and 4th line, in the first stanza. Rhyming the “ey” and the “ay” sounds seems to be acceptable to the Yiddish folksinger and LSW is not the only one to do this.

TRANSLITERATION

LSW spoken: A libeslid.

Vus hosti dekh azoy ayngelibt in mir?
Vus hosti af mir azoy derzeyn?
Kenst dekh nemen a sheyn meydele mit nadn
in leybn mit ir gur fayn.

Sheynkeyt hob ikh shoyn gezeyn.
in raykhkeyt makht bay mir nit oys.
Az ikh gib mit dir a red a pur klige verter,
tsisti bay mir mayne [di] koykhes aroys.

Shpatsirn ze’ mir gegangen,
der veyg iz geveyn far indz tsi shmul.
A shvartsn sof zol dayn mame hubn,
zi zol lign in kristlekhn shpitul.

Shpatsirn ze’mir beyde gegangen,
der veyg iz geveyn far indz tsi breyt.
A shvartsn sof zol dayn mame hubn,
vayl zi hot indz beyde tsesheydt.

TRANSLATION

LSW spoken: a love song.

Why did you fall so in love with me?
What did you see in me?
You could have taken a pretty girl with a dowry,
and lived with her just fine.

Beauty, I have already seen,
and wealth doesn’t matter to me.
When I speak just a few smart words with you,
you pull out all of my power.

We went a walking,
the road was too narrow for us.
A black end may your mother have,
I hope she lay in the Christian hospital.

We went a walking,
the road was to wide for us.
A black end may your mother have,
for she split us up.
vos. hosti 1vos hosti 2

“Oy sheyn bin ikh a mol gevezn” Performed by Leah (Lillian) Kolko

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2019 by yiddishsong

Oy sheyn bin ikh a mol gevezn / O, I Was Once Beautiful
Sung by Leah (Lillian) Kolko, recorded in Camp Boiberik, Rhinebeck, NY by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, 1974

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Leah Kolko remembers learning this song when active in the youth branch of the Poale-Zion organization in Paterson, New Jersey in the the early 1920s. The recording here was made at Camp Boiberik in 1974 by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman.

Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 10.10.45 AM

Image by Tsirl Waletzky

The rhyme “trovern” [instead of troyern] and “movern” [instead of moyern] indicates the song has its origin in the Ukraine. but dialectically speaking, the song is inconsistent.

TRANSLITERATION

Oy sheyn bin ikh a mol gevezn.
[Oy] vi der morgn shtern hob ikh geshaynt.
oy, zint ikh hob zikh mit dir bakont,
oy, fun tog tsu tog ver ikh mer krank. 

Ikh hob gemeynt az af dayne reyd
[Oy] ken men shteln movern [moyern]
Tsum sof hostu mir mayn kop fardreyt,
az ikh hob tsu veynen un tsu trovern. 

Shpatsirn zaynen mir gegangen
ale shabes oyfn bulevar.
Oy, dayne reyd hob ikh gegloybt.
Oy, bin ikh geven a groyser nar.

Du vest zikh nokh a mol on mir dermonen,
vayl keyner hot dir nit azoy lib.
Oy, du vest forn un vest mikh zukhn,
nor ikh vel zayn shoyn fun lang in grib.

TRANSLATION

O, I was once beautiful.
O, like the morning star did I shine.
O, since I got to know you,
O, with each passing day I feel more ill. 

I thought that upon your words
I could build stone walls.
In the end you turned my head around
so that I cry and mourn. 

We used to take a walk
every Sabbath along the boulevard.
O, I believed in your words.
O, what a fool I was. 

Someday you will remember me
for no one loved you as much as I.
You will travel all over and will search me
but I will have long been in the grave.
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