Archive for Belarus

“Mentshn getraye: a matse-podriad lid” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This year’s Passover is now complete, so please save this song for next year’s festival!

Mentshn getraye: a matse-podriad lid is the second matse-baking song we have posted on Yiddish Song of the Week. The first was “Mir nemen veytslekh”, sung by Dora Libson.  Mentshn getraye was recorded from Jacob Gorelik by Michael Alpert and me in New York City in 1984, and Alpert later recorded his own performance of the song on the Lori Cahan-Simon Ensemble’s CD Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me: Volume One: Passover.

MatseBaking

Pre-war matse baking [from the Yad-Vasham Photo Archives]

In this posting we present original field recording of that song. The tradition of Matse-podriad continues in religious Jewish circles today and one can see samples of it on the internet. The spirit has remained jovial, often musical, over the years. Here is a current example with the Mishkoltz Rebbe:

Jacob Gorelik introduces the song with these words:  “…the second song I heard in my town. My mother and other mothers sang it. It was called the “Matse-podriad-lid”.  In town there was a custom, that once a year when Passover came, money was collected especially for poor people who could not buy matse, could not buy wine. Help! No way to celebrate Passover. It [custom] was called moes-khitin. That was one thing.

The second thing was – the matse was the primary thing. So the whole town got together and there was complete unity – the orthodox, the “modern” ones, the Zionists,  Bundists, socialists. They used to rent a house with an oven, and buy wood, buy flour and hire people to bake the matse. And this was called a community “matea bakery” by the entire Jewish community.

And as someone once asked – when you sing, or you do something good – do you do it for youself or for the other person? It was a combination. One had it mind that you were doing it for the poor. You were baking matse for them. But at the same time, at that time it was a joy in town becasue it was  a boring life.  It was also an opportunity for girls and boys to get together. And we used to sing and this is one of those songs that were sung. Who composed the song…This song is light verse. It’s not ‘pure’ poetry; but it’s humorously colored. According to what Mendel Elkin once told me the writer was Tunkel – or “The Tunkeler” [The dark one] his pseudonym.

The melody, I learned later when I was living in America, comes from a Ukrainian song “Nutshe Khloptse”. And now the song:

Mentshn getraye, farnumene un fraye,
Bay vemen es iz nor tsayt faran.
Git aher ayer pratse, un helft bakn matse,
dem noyt-baderftikn man.

Hentelekh ir kleyne, eydele un sheyne,
bikhelekh nor trogn ir kent.
Pruvt nor visn, eyn mol in Nisan
dem tam fun mazolyes af di hent.

Ir gvirishe meydlekh, helft kneytn teyglekh
mit ayere vaysinke hent.
Teygelekh geknotn vi Got hot gebotn,
Kosher un erlekh un fayn.

Spoken: A freylekhn Peysekh! Flegt men zogn  alemen.

TRANSLATION

Dear people, those who are busy, and those who are free.
Whoever has some time to spare.
Donate your labor to help bake matse
for the man in need.

Little hands, delicate and beautiful,
who only could carry books.
Get to know at least once during the month of Nisan,
the taste of calluses on your hands.

You well-off girls, help knead the dough
with your white hands.
Flour all kneaded, as God has commanded,
Kosher, and honest and fine

Spoken: “Happy Passover!” Is what we wished everyone.

MatsaBakingYID-page-001MatsaBakingYID-page-002

CROP 3 MatsaBakingYID-page-003

Though Gorelick was from Byelorussia, the song text is also found in the writings of Galician writer Soma Morgenstern, who quotes it in his book “The Third Pillar” (1955), page 59, translated from the German [see below]. I have yet to find this poem in Der Tunkeler’s writings.

Morgenstern Cropped

“In toyznt naynhindert ferter yor” Performed by Feigl Yudin

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

In toyznt naynhindert ferter yor (In the Year One Thousand Nine Hundred and Four), performed here by singer Feigl Yudin for a 1980 (circa) concert produced by the Balkan Arts Center (now the Center for Traditional Music and Dance) is one of a number of Yiddish songs about the Russo-Japanese war; a conflict that was fought between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan from 1904 – 1905.

The build-up to the war began in the late 1890s as one can see from the variants of this song which all begin with a different year – 1899 – “In toyznt akht hundert nayn un nayntsiktn yor”. See: Beregovski/Slobin Old Jewish Folk Music page 231, with music, and also see the endnotes there for other variants. A version is also found in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archives (ed. Slobin/Mlotek, 2007) with music.

At the bottom of this post we have attached an interview with Yudin from an issue of the magazine Sing Out!, Volume 25, #5, 1977.

Another Yiddish song from the Russo-Japanese war – “Di rusishe medine” – sung by Majer Bogdanski can be heard on his CD “Yidishe Lider”  (Jewish Music Heritage Recordings, CD 017.)

I received help with the text of Yudin’s song from Paula Teitelbaum, Jason Roberts, Sasha Lurje and Zisl Slepovitch. Though, I am still not sure, in the first verse, what is meant by the expression di godnikes por/ gor (?) Your comments on this are welcome. Also note she does not sing the obvious dialectical rhyme in the third verse “miter” with “biter”.

1) Toyznt naynhindert ferter yor,
Iz geven in Rusland a shlekhter nabor
Men hot opgegebn di gotnikes po/.gor (?)
Far mir iz geblibn di ergste fir yor.

2) Zay zhe mir gezunt mayn tayerer foter,
A gantse fir yor verstu nebekh fin mir poter.
Oy, zay zhe mir gezunt un bet far mir Got,
Men zol mir nit naznatshen in dalniy vostok.

3) Zay zhe mir gezunt mayn tayere muter.
Dir iz dokh shlekht un mir iz dokh biter.
Oy, zay zhe mir gezunt un bet far mir Got,
Men zol mir nit naznatshen in dalniy vostok

4) Zay mir gezunt mayn tayere kale.
Nokh dir vel ikh benken, oy, mer vi nokh ale.
Oy, zay zhe mir gezunt un bet far mir Got,
Men zol mir nit naznatshen keyn dalniy vastok.

5) Dalniy vostok volt geven on a sakone
Es zol nor nit zayn vi a panske milkhome.
Oy, zayt zhe ale gezunt un bet far mir Got.
Men zol mir nit naznatshen oy, in dalniy vastok.

1) The year one thousand nine hundred and four,
there was a terrible recruitment/draft.
A few recruits were sent into service –
These were my worst four years.

2) Fare well my dear father,
Alas, four long years will you be rid of me
O, fare well and pray to God,
They should not assign me to the Far East.

3) Fare well my dear mother,
You feel so bad and I feel miserable.
O, fare well and pray to God,
They should not assign me to the Far East.

4) Fare well my dear bride.
I will long for you, o, more than the rest.
O, fare well and pray to God,
They should not assign me to the Far East.

5) The Far East would be without danger
if there were no lordly war [war created by the Lords].
O, fare well and pray to God,
They should not assign me to the Far East.

1904a1904b1904c

SOvol25#51977-p1bd4ts7c7qcim261c0i1hcp1kq1Yudin2-p1bd4ttk761lg51o7810fc42vjhjYudin3-p1bd4tvit71g751v261cv0hm415f5Yudin4-p1bd4u08aq174gptkan5vjj1bbo

“Mir af a shifl, dir af a lotke” Performed by Zelig Schnadover

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2017 by yiddishsong

 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

Arie

This  one-verse song ‘Mir af a shifl, dir af a lotke’ (“A Boat for Me, a Canoe for You”) was performed by Zelig Schnadover, and recorded by Itzik Gottesman in Mexico City, 1988. Curiously, the first line from this ditty appears under the boat in the above 1960s painting of the Israeli artist Arie Aroch (1908-1974), who spent his childhood in Kharkov (Kharkiv), Ukraine.

Zelig Schnadover was born in 1907 in Slavuta [Yiddish – Slavite סלאַוויטע ] Ukraine. In 1920 they “escaped the Bolsheviks” and the family went to Poland. He had his bar-mitsve in Brody, [Yiddish – Brod], Poland. He lived in Poland until 1926 and learned the song there. Schnadover emigrated to Mexico City in 1926/27.

ZeligFoto

Zelig Schnadover

To make money in the early years in Mexico City Schnadover was part of a group of singers who provided the soundtrack to silent movies, many of them Russian, so they sang Russian songs. They didn’t have much time to prepare – usually they had not seen the movie earlier so amusing things happened. An example he gave was for Abel Gance’s film  Napoleon. The group was still singing a waltz as the projector was already showing a battle scene. When I knew him he had been the longtime owner of a stationary store, a papeleria, near the center of the city, the Zocolo.

Mir af a shifl,
Dir af a lotke.
Mir a sheyn meydl
Dir a tshekhotke

Me on a boat,
you on a canoe.
Me – a pretty girl
You – one with tuberculosis. 

After the initial posting, musicologist Dmitri “Zisl” Slepovitch pointed out a connection to a song he had recorded from Sterna Gorodetskaya in Mahilyow (Mogilev), Belarus, which was posted earlier to the Yiddish Song of the Week.

Also, a variant of the song from Brest-Litovsk (Yiddish – Brisk, now in Belarus) appears in I. L. Cahan’s 1912 collection with no music but with a second verse and presents it as a dialogue. The first verse sung by “He”, the second one by “She”.

Er:
Ikh af a shifele
Du af a lodke,
Ikh a soldat,
Du a soldadtke.

Zi:
Ikh af a shifele
Du af a lotke;
Ikh a sheyn meydele,
Du a sukhotke.

He:
I on a boat
You on a canoe.
I – a [male] soldier
You – a [female] soldier. 

She:
I on a boat,
You on a canoe
I – a pretty girl
You – a girl with tuberculosis.

Here is how it appears in Cahan’s 1912 collection:

CahanYID1912

Special thanks for help with this week’s posting goes to Tamara Gleason Freidberg, Paul Glasser and Rachel Greene. 

 

“Di Kolomeyer tsaytung” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Perhaps because of an advertisement in the Kolomey [Kolomyia, Kolomea – Eastern Galicia, today Ukraine] newspaper, young women came to the city and became street walkers. Any other interpretations of the first line of this song, which Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) says was created during the first world war, would be welcome. This recording of Lifshe was made by Leybl Kahn in 1954 in New York.

Leybl Kahn

 As part of YIVO’s I. L. Cahan Folklore Club Leybl Kahn recorded approximately 90 Yiddish songs from LSW in NY in 1954. This photo of Kahn is from the 1980s

Klezmer music scholar Prof. Martin Schwartz (Berkeley) remembers his mother from Brisk de Lite (Brest Litovsk, now in Belarus) singing this song, but about a “Bialistoker tsaytung” (newspaper from Bialystok)  He also pointed out that the same melody, more or less, can be heard in the klezmer repertoire in Harry Kandel’s Odessa Bulgar.

Note: in the first verse LSW sings mistakenly “Arop fun dem shlekhtn veg iz zi” which means – “She went off the bad/crooked path”; the opposite of what she intended. I believe she meant to sing “Arop funem glaykhn veg iz zi” – “She went off the good/straight path”.

Spoken:

LSW: A pur lider vos me hot gezingen in krig.
LK: In der ershter velt-milkhome.
LSW: In der ershter velt-milkhume
LK: Gut, dos ershte lid…

Di kolomeyer tsaytung hot gebrakht a vabele
shpeyt bay nakht.
Gegangen iz zi
fun shpeyt biz fri
Arup fun dem shlekhtn [glaykhn] veyg iz zi.

Meydlekh in der ershter klas
geyen arim in der (h)intershter gas.
Hefker iz di velt atsind.

Tsi iz dus fayn? Tsi iz dus sheyn?
Biz shpeyt ba nakht arimtsigeyn?
Es iz nisht fayn; es iz nisht sheyn.
Dus iberike shtoyst zikh un aleyn.

Spoken:

LSW: A few songs that were sung in wartime.
LK: In the first world war.
LSW: In the first world war.
LK: the first song…

The Kolomey newspaper brought a young woman
late at night.
She walked from late to early morning
Off the straight path she went.
[LSW sings mistakenly “off the evil path she went”]

First class girls wander around in the back alleys.
The world is topsy-turvey now.

Is this fine? Is this nice?
To walk around till late at night?
It is not fine; it is not nice.
You can imagine the rest yourself.

kolomeyer1kolomeyer2.JPG

“Vi sheyn s’iz itstert di pagode” Performed by Feigl Yudin

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2015 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

This week we feature another track of Feigl Yudin recorded in a 1978 concert presented by the Balkan Arts Center (now Center for Traditional Music and Dance, Ethel Raim provides the introduction). Vi sheyn s’iz itstert di pagode (How beautiful is now the weather) is another lyric love song by Feigl Yudin, this time in the voice of the man. I have yet to find other variants.

Today the term “cavalier” sounds old-fashioned, but it is often found in Yiddish folksong to denote suitor, gentleman, boyfriend. The admission that he cannot write is a rare one in Yiddish song, since most males had at least a rudimentary Jewish education and could read and write.

Feigl sings “Der ponim” instead of the standard “Dos ponim”, which reflects her Grodno dialect.

Vi sheyn s’iz itstert di pagode,
Es tsit mayn harts mit libe tsu dir.
Du kum tsu mir mayn Khaye- Soshe [Shoshe]
Vayl ikh bin der shenster kavalir.

Khaye-Shoshe, di zogst ikh hob a feler.
Hob ikh oykh a sredstve tsu dem.
Ikh vel zikh koyfn a brivn-shteler,
Un vel zikh oyslernen shraybn fun dem.

Oy dayne oygn vi tsvey brilyantn
vi di shtern shaynen zey.
Volt shtendik veln in zey kukn
un shtendik shpiglen zikh in zey.

Oy dayn heldzl vi alabaster
un dayne lokn iz tayerer fun gelt.
un dayne tseyndlekh vi vayse perl
un dayn ponim’z der shenster af der velt.

How beautiful is now the weather.
With love my heart is drawn to you.
Come to me my Khaye-Soshe [Shoshe]
Because I am the most handsome cavalier.

Khaye-Soshe, you say I have a fault.
So I have a remedy for that.
I will buy a handbook of sample letters,
and will learn to write from it.

O, your eyes like two jewels,
like the stars they shine.
I would like to always look into them
and always look at my reflection.

O, your neck is like alabaster
and your locks are more dear than money,
and your teeth like white pearls
and your face is the most beautiful in the world.

pagode

“Bay a taykhele” Performed by Feigl Yudin

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2015 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Ethel Raim and Itzik Gottesman

From Ethel Raim:

Feigl Yudin moved to the United States at the age of 14 from Grodna (Grodno) Gubernia, now in Belarus. Her parents stayed behind in Europe, so upon arriving to New York City she was housed by landslayt (contacts from her hometown), who took care of her until she was able to support herself. A skilled seamstress, Feigl continued working in the needle trades in the US for most of her life and was an active participant in the progressive labor movement.

When the Center presented the landmark concert with legendary clarinetist Dave Tarras on November 19, 1978, at Casa Galicia (now Webster Hall) in Manhattan, Feigl Yudin was a featured artist, among others. A native Yiddish speaker, she loved singing and was one of those people who could hear a melody for the first time and commit it to memory almost instantly.  She would say, “When I hear a melody it haunts me and I must get the words.” Feigl had a large repertoire of Yiddish songs which she learned both in Europe and in the US, and, as you will hear, was a beautiful singer.

From Itzik Gottesman:

This love song is a strophic lyric quatrain which is typical of the Yiddish tradition. (See accompanying booklet to LP Folksongs in the East European Tradition from the repertoire of Mariam Nirenberg Prepared by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett with Mark Slobin and Eleanor Gordon Mlotek, 1986, pages 5 – 6).

Yudin’s repertoire was recorded by Ruth Rubin starting in 1948. Four of her songs are included in the volume Yiddish Songs from the Ruth Rubin Archive (2007) and her song “Ba a taykhele” begins the collection.

It states there that the song was collected in 1967 and other versions can be found in I. L. Cahan’s collection Yidishe folkslider mit melodyes (1957) and the volume by Beregovski and Fefer – Yidishe folkslider (1938).

The suggested parallel in Cahan (song #175) is not convincingly a variant of this song, but the Beregovski and Fefer version is the exact same as Yudin sings it, and I am inclined to think that Yudin learned it from an Amerucan leftist Yiddish chorus/choir where the songs from the Beregovski and Fefer songbook were quite popular.

Bay a taykhele vakst a beymele.
Vaksn af dem tsvaygn.
Mit alemen redstu, mit aleman bistu frayndlekh.
Nor mir heystu shvaygn.

Bay a taykhele vakst a beymele
Vaksn oyf dem blumen.
(Haynt) freg ikh dir libster – ven vestu shoyn kumen?
Ven vestu shoyn a mol kumen?

Bay a taykhele vakst a beymele
Vaksn af dem bleter
Freg ikh dir libster ven vestu shoyn kumen?
Leygst alts op af shpeter.

By a stream a small tree grows.
On it grows branches.
You talk to everyone; you’re friendly with all.
But me – you ask to be silent.

By a stream a small tree grows.
On it grows flowers.
(Today) I ask you my beloved – when will you come already?
When will come for once?

By a stream a small tree grows.
On it grows leaves.
I ask you my beloved when will you come already?
But you keep putting it off for later.

yudintaykhele

“Arele kumt in vald” Performed by Larisa Pechersky

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2015 by yiddishsong

This week’s blog post – song and commentary – was submitted by Larisa Pechersky, who also performs on the recording.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make my grandmother’s name known and maybe remembered by people who often ask me how I know so many Yiddish songs. I always tell them that it’s because of my grandmother. Now, I hope her story, name, and image will be shared with them for the first time. As always, I dedicate all my work in the field of Jewish folklore and education to her blessed memory. Milya on 20th birthday Horki

Milya Shagalova (nee Mikhlya Fle’er / Fleyer), grandmother of Larisa Pechersky in Horki on her 20th birthday

I learned this song from my maternal grandmother when I was a toddler in the late 70s . She lived with my mother and me, and took care of me while my mom worked. All day long, as she worked around the house, she sang hundreds of Yiddish songs and encouraged me to sing along.

She would stop many times during a song to comment and make connections to her life in a Belorussian shtetl, to the experiences of her family and friends, and whatever lessons she wanted me to take away from each song. She often acted out the songs with me and showed me how to express a variety of feelings through a nign without words (just like in this song, Arele, she emphasized how the same nign after each verse can express fear, despair, or relief).

She made each song a window into Jewish life for me, a child growing up in a big city of Leningrad, the cultural capital of the Soviet Union, where forced assimilation was the norm for its more than 150,000 Jews. Assimilation was out of the question for my family, where my grandmother wanted me to know Yiddish and grow up proudly Jewish. Milya and Larisa

Larisa Pechersky (age 3) and her grandmother, Milya Shagalova, at home in Leningrad

My grandmother, Milya Shagalova (nee Mikhlya Fle’er / Fleyer), was born in 1914 in Propoysk, a shtetl in Mogilievske Guberniye, Belorussia. In the post-revolution years, her father, Zalmen, received a warning that he was to be arrested, stripped of his possessions, and exiled for owning four cows and employing one housekeeper. To avoid this fate, the family fled to Horki, a larger shtetl in the region, his birthplace.

As the third daughter in a family with no sons at the time, little Mikhlya was sent to a traditional all-boys kheyder to study. She told me compassionate stories of the cruel pranks the boys did to the poor old rebbe that she, as the only girl, felt so bad about. Later, she graduated from a seven-year school, where all of the subjects were taught in Yiddish. She wanted to continue on to the Jewish (Yiddish) teachers’ college, but it was no longer possible.

In 1934, as a newlywed, she moved to Leningrad with her husband Naum (Nokhom-Abram), where they lived  their whole life afterwards. Despite knowing Russian as well as if it were their native tongue, they always spoke Yiddish at home and with many friends, never missed a Jewish concert or event, and subscribed to Jewish periodicals when it was still possible.

During World War II, my grandma miraculously survived the horrific siege of Leningrad with my three-month old mom, but lost her five-year old son, who was with his grandparents in Horki for the summer, during which the Nazis invaded it and killed 7,500 Jews, including the boy, his four grandparents, and 38 more of our relatives.

My grandpa Naum, who came back from the front without a leg, learned of his son’s initial rescue, swift betrayal, and killing from his former neighbors. My grandma’s lament and guilt that she “sent her own child to death with her own hands” by letting him travel to Belorussia before the war “nobody expected to happen” was one of the stories that she would tell me often. Milya with Larisa

Larisa and Milya on summer vacation in Ukraine

When the Perestroika had just begun, the very first signs of the Jewish renewal were two concerts of Jewish music at the end of 1988 in Leningrad. My grandma did not miss them despite her poor health and the two of us went together. She felt that they “added seven more years of life” to her. This is how highly she regarded Jewish songs.

To my greatest regret, she passed away in January 1989 before I went to synagogue for the first time and matriculated at the newly created Jewish University that same year. I never recorded any of her songs, but kept hundreds of them in my memory. I still remember some ballads, just partially, and feel terrible that I can’t recall all the words or find them published anywhere.

When my friends and I started a Jewish school in Leningrad, I dedicated my work to giving my students the same as what my grandmother gave me – teaching them every and any thing Jewish through our amazing multi-layered Yiddish songs. Researching Yiddish musical folklore became my profession, passion, and a tribute to my grandma’s bravery and real heroism in passing our musical tradition to new generations amid the tribulations she lived through.

Arele kumt in vald (Arele Comes to the Woods)

This is how I remember learning the words as a child. I understand they sound not totally grammatically correct, but this is how I sang it as a kid.

Most of the time, we sang the second and third verses in the reverse order. The line in question meant Arele wasn’t taken aback; didn’t fear (I don’t remember the Yiddish word). When it was sung as the second verse, it made his attempt to escape appear to be futile given the next stanza (he thought he could run away, but now he can clearly see the dire situation – the mouth, the paws, etc). This way the time between his climbing up the tree, crying in despair, and eventual rescue was much longer and more terrifying in his eyes.

This was the order of the verses my grandma usually used. Switching the verses makes his actions appear more brave (he didn’t lose his head despite realizing all the details of the dangerous situation beforehand). Also, we sang it a bit slower, in a more storytelling manner, than I did in this recording.The English transliteration reflects the Yiddish dialect more than the Yiddish transcription.

Arele kumt in vald,
Dreyt zikh ‘hin un ‘her.
Ven er dremlt bald
kumt a greyser ber!

Der ber mit lapes greyse!
G’valt, dos iz nit gut!
Fun eygn trern heyse,
Ot iz sheyn kaput!

Arele is nit flit [foyl?]
Eyfn beym er kletert.
Un der ber mit ofn mul,
G’valt, nito keyn reter!

A reter iz ba sholem,
A greyser nes getrofn!
Geven iz dos a kholem,
Ven Arel iz geshlofn!

Arele comes to the woods,
wanders here and there.
When he slumbers, right away comes
a great big bear.

The bear with giant paws!
Help, this is not good.
From his eyes hot tears stream.
Now all is kaput.

Arele is not lazy
and on the tree he climbs.
And the bear with an open mouth
Help, there is no rescue!

A rescue did come in peace;
a great miracle happened.
This was all a dream
while Arele was sleeping.

arele1 arele2