Archive for Broder Zinger

“Der vanderer: Geboyrn bin ikh in tsores un in leydn” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2020 by yiddishsong

Der vanderer: Geboyrn bin ikh in tsores un in leydn /
The Wanderer:
I was born with troubles and suffering
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW), recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman follows the transcription and translation.


Geboyrn bin ikh in tsures in in leydn
in troyer in in yumer in in klug.
Fartribn bin ekh fin ale mayne freydn.
S’mir nisht lib kayn eyntsiker tug. 

I was born with troubles and suffering,
in sorrow and with tears and misfortune.
I’ve been driven away from all my joys:
Not one day of enjoyment have I had. 

Dus imglik traybt mekh arim iberal.
Es geyt mir oft mayn leybn oys.
Vus fara tug ze ikh in ayn argern fal.
Di hofenung – dus iz mayn malekh-hamus.

Bad luck has driven me everywhere;
Often has my life nearly ended
With each passing day I see something worse.
Hope has become my angel of death.


Benken, benk ikh nukh mayn heymat shtark
Dortn shteyt mayn vigele, mayn rakh.
Vi lang ken ikh nokh zayn in na-venad.


I long so much for my home.
There is my crib, my realm.
How long can I still wander around?

Oy, di zin, di shants zeyer lib,
Dan sheynkeyt dayn lekht iz a prakht.
Nor mir eyner shantsti nebekh, trib.
ven bay dir iz tug, iz bay mir nakht. 

O, the sun, you shine with great pleasure.
Your beauty, your light is a splendor.
But for just me  your shine is gloomy.
When it is day for you, for me it is night. 

Di derkvikst ayeydn mit dayn frimorgn,
mit shpatsirn, luft in gezint.
Nor mekh eyner derkviksti mit zorgn.
Vayl ekh bin urem, a farvuglt kind.

You delight everyone with your morning,
with walks, air and health.
But for me alone, you “delight” with worries,
for I am poor, a homeless child.

Derkh der hofnung lad ekh nebekh noyt.
Fin alem bestn makht zi mekh umbikant.
Filaykht ervartert meykh der toyt,
Vil ikh shtarbn in man futerland.

On account of hope I suffer hardship.
It has made the best things unknown to me.
Maybe death awaits me,
so I want to die in my fatherland. 

Vayl benkn, benk ikh nukh mayn haymat shtark
Dortn shteyt mayn vigele, mayn rakh.
Vi lang ken ikh nokh zayn in na-venad?


I long so much for my home.
There is my crib, my realm.
How long can I still wander around?
Wander around.

The Germanisms in this song can only mean one thing – “Galicia”.  The Jews who lived in Austria-Hungarian Galicia before WWI and in its sister territory Bukovina, where singer Lifshe Schaechter Widman (LSW) was from, were fluent in German, sang German songs, and had no problem with German words in their Yiddish. A Yiddish writer I often associate with Galicia, Fradl Shtok (from Brody?), mentions this song in her story “Komediantn” (Gezamlte dertseylungen, 1919, p. 57.)  There, a street performer sings and plays on the flute – “Benken, benk ikh nokh mayn heymat…”. Unfortunately, she ends the song there.

Chagall-Over-Vitebsk-GettyImages-CROPPED-1843825-5aad718ea474be0019b9d26e (1)“Over Vitebsk” by Marc Chagall, 1914

A printed version of this song, sung by Z. Goldstein, text and music, appears in Shloyme Prizament’s book Broder zinger (pages 163 – 164) with the same title that LSW uses to introduce the song “Der vanderer”. Other than the refrain, the words and music are quite different. The fact that both Goldstein and LSW call it with the same title, “The Wanderer”, indicates, in my opinion, that it is from a play or, more likely, a popular Broder zinger tavern performance (for a recent article on Broder zinger see the article “Broder Singers: Forerunners of the Yiddish Theater” by Amanda [Miryem-Khaye] Seigel).

The song became a beggar’s song at some point. In volume 8, #22 in the CD series Historical Collection of Jewish Musical Folklore 1912 – 1947 produced by the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, Kiev,  the singer Yeshaya Khazan, recorded in 1939, sings a similar version to LSW. Khazan refers to this as a beggar song and his emotional performance, punctuated with “oy veys!” bears this out.

A longer printed version of the song, and one that is closest to LSW’s version, can be found in the collection of folk poetry Zeks yidishe folks lider (Six Yiddish folks songs) by  L. M. Graboys (or Groboys), Kishinev, 1900.

zeks cover

Here the song is entitled “Benken benk ikh”. Though the author implies that he is the author of all the songs in the collection, this is doubtful. The first song “Der bal-dover mit dem khoyle”  [the devil and the sick one] is a long version of the old ballad “Der lomp vert farloshn”, (listen to LSW’s version of this on Yiddish Song of the Week posted in 2011) which Graboys/Groboys certainly did not write. 

One word gave me particular trouble in this song. In the refrain, all of the sources except LSW sing “Dortn iz  mayn vigele, mayn rekht”. What is meant by “rekht” in this context? I have heard many suggestions: birthright, citizenship, rights, among them. All are possible, though I have never heard “rekht” used that way with this syntax. LSW sings a different word which I hear as “raykh” (“reich” in German) and translate as “realm”.

During the short discussion after the song between collector Leybl Kahn and LSW, she clarifies that it is not a Zionist song. 

Special thanks this week to Eliezer Niborski.


“Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg: Performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2018 by yiddishsong

Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg / When the Holy Sukkoth Days Arrive
Performance by Khave Rosenblatt, Recorded by Beyle Gottesman, Jerusalem 1975

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I have not yet found an author/composer of this song but to my mind, it hearkens back to the Broder zingers, the Singers of Brody, the Jewish wandering performers of comic, parodic skits and songs of the nineteenth century. Khave Rosenblatt remembered that she learned the song in Chernovitz, the capital of Bukovina where the Broder Singers often performed in the wine cellars. She also recalled hearing it sung by the Yiddish writer, critic Shloyme Bikl. Rosenblatt’s stellar interpretation turns this song into a little masterpiece.

The motif of a goat eating the covering on the roof of the sukkah is most famously known through Sholem-Aleichem’s short story “Shoyn eyn mol a sukkah” [What a sukkah!], in the volume Mayses far yidishe kinder [Tales for Jewish children].


Sukkot, Opatów (Apt), Poland, 1920s, as remembered by Mayer Kirshenblatt 

This is the third song of Khave Rosenblatt that we have posted from the recording session with Beyle Gottesman and a couple of more will be added later. At the same time as this recording (1975/1976) Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett recorded Rosenblatt for the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife Research in preparation for the Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife in 1976 in D.C. This recording can be found on the website of the National Library of Israel (search: חוה רוזנבלט ). Israel was the featured country for the “Old Ways” in the New World section at the festival.

Special thanks to David Braun and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett for this week’s post.


Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teyg
kimt mir afn rayen.
Vi s’hot farmosert indzer sikele
Reb Shloymele der dayen.

Oy, az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg
kimt mir afn rayen.
Vi s’hot geosert indzer sikele
Reb Shloymele der dayen.

Oy indzer dayen indzerer –
a lekhtiker gan-eydn im.
Hot eymetser farmosert
az in indzer sike indzerer gefoln tsifil zinen-shayn, nu?
Hot er zi geosert.

A sike, zugt er, an emes kusher yidishe
darf zayn a tinkele, darf zayn a fintsere
eyn shtral lekht makht nit oys.
Ober di zin zol shaynen khitspedik?! – fe!
Si’z gurnit yidish.

Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg
kimt mir afn rayen,
ven se heybt zikh on dos shpiln nis
in hoyf bay Yankl-Shayen

Oy, az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg
volt geveyn a khayes,
ven me lozt indz nor tsiri
in hoyf bay Yankl-Shayes.

A yid, a beyzer, vu’ dus iz.
S’geyt im on, me shpilt in nis.
Hot er zikh lib tsi krign.
Staytsh! Me shpilt zikh far zayn tir
un krimt zikh nokh zayn shnir
vus nokh?
Men izbovet im di tsign.

“Un tsign” zugt er “tur men nisht zatshepenen
in di yontif-teg deroyf
ven di sike shteyt in mitn hoyf.
A hint, a kots topn di vont
ober a tsig!?
Aza min vilde zakh vus shtshipet un
dem gantsn skhakh
un lozt di sike un a dakh!
Fe! Hiltayes! Nit zatshepen!


When the holy Sukkoth days arrive,
this is what comes to mind –
How our sukkah was denounced
by Reb Shloymele the rabbi’s assistant.

When the Holy Sukkoth days arrive
this is what comes to mind –
How are sukkah was deemed unkosher
by Reb Shloymele the rabbi’s assistant.

Oy, our rabbi’s assistant,
may he have a bright paradise.
Someone denounced our sukkah to him because
too much sunshine fell inside, nu?
So he deemed it unkosher.

“A sukkah” says he “a true, kosher Jewish one
should be dark, should be dim.
One ray of light doesn’t matter
but if the sun should impudently shine in – Fe!
That’s not the Jewish way at all.”

When the holy Sukkoth days arrive,
this is what comes to mind –
The beginning of playing nuts
in the yard of Yankl-Shaye.

Oy, when the holy Sukkoth days arrive,
We could have had so much fun,
if they would only leave us alone
in the yard of Yank-Shaye.

A mean man (what’s the matter with him?!)
that gets upset when we play nuts,
and likes to quarrel with us.
“What’s going on!? Playing nuts on my doorstep
and mocking my daughter-in-law”
What else?
We were ruining his goats.

“And goats” he says “should not be bothered
during the holidays especially when
the sukkah is standing in the middle of the yard.
A dog, a cat will just touch the walls but a goat!
Such a wild thing that grazes
on the covering on the roof.
Fe!  You with no morals, leave them alone!”


“Mirtseshem af shabes” Performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2018 by yiddishsong

Mirtseshem af shabes / God Willing, This Sabbath
Performance by Khave Rosenblatt
Recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
Jerusalem, 1970s
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The most popular version of this 19th century mock-Hasidic song begins with the line “Ver hot dos gezen…” or “Tsi hot men azoyns gezen…” (“Who has seen this” or “Who has every seen anything like this”). In the Mlotek’s collection Mir trogn a gezang, pages 126-127.  the song is called “Dos lid fun ayznban” (“The Song About the Train”).  Theodore Bikel recorded that version on his LP “Theodore Bikel Sings Jewish Folksongs” 1959.

Khave Rosenblatt’s version however is closer in some respects to the variants found in the collections Yidishe folks-lider, ed. Itzik Fefer and Moyshe Beregovski, Kiev 1938. pp. 386-387  (see below) and in A.Z. Idelsohn’s The Folk Song of The East European Jews, volume 9 of his Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies, song # 558, beginning with the line “Nokh shabes imirtseshem….”.   Idelsohn also includes the “Ver hot dos gezen..” version, #556, from the German journal Ost und West. A scan of that page is also attached (see below)

train whistle

Only Rosenblatt’s theatrical version plays with the verbs “fayfn” (“fafn” in her dialect), which means “whistle” and  “onfayfen”  (“unfafn” in her dialect) meaning “to thumb one’s nose at.” One could easily imagine the wandering entertainers, the Broder Singers, performing this song in the wine cellars of the 19th century in Galicia.

Mirtseshem af shobes
vel ikh bam rebn zan.
Ikh vel tsiklugn di hiltayes, di drobes
vus zey nemen azoy fil gelt un zey leygn in dr’erd aran.

Rebe, hot er a fafer
mit a meshenem knop.
Er faft indz un hekher in hekher
in er vet gurnisht vern farshtopt.

Er faft un faft un faft un faft un faft
Er vil gurnisht oyfhern.
mit dem rebns koyekh
vet di ban tseshlugn vern.

God willing this Sabbath
I will spend with the Rebbe.
I will denounce the hedonists, the wastrels,
who take so much money and spend it wildy. [lit: bury it in the ground]

Rebbe, what a whistle it has!
with a brass knob.
He thumbs his nose at us louder and louder,
and nothing shuts him up.

He whistles and whistles and whistles and whistles and whistles
and doesn’t want to stop.
With the Rebbe’s power
the train will be trounced.

dos lid gottesman

Khane and Joe Mlotek, Mir trogn a gezang, pages 126-127:

dos lid mlotek

Yidishe folks-lider, ed. Itzik Fefer and Moyshe Beregovski, Kiev 1938. pp. 386-387:
miritzhashem (1)

dos lid fefer 2b

A.Z. Idelsohn’s The Folk Song of The East European Jews, volume 9 of Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies (#558 & #556)

dos lid idelsohn 558dos lid idelsohn 556

“Bay deym ruv in shtib” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

The song „Bay deym ruv in shtib‟ (“In the Rabbi’s House”) appears in Yisrol-Yitskhok Tsipershteyn‘s booklet Dray naye lider [Three new songs] with the title “Khayim Shmul dem gabeles”, published in Warsaw,1900, by Yehude-Leyb Morgenshtern. After the author’s name, the word “badkhn” appears indicating his profession at that time. I found this booklet while researching Yiddish parodies in the National Library in Jerusalem and immediately recognized Lifshe Schaechter-Widman‘s song imbedded in the longer text (see a scan of the text below).

The song is found in the last part of a five part song and skit performance (pages 12-22 of the Dray naye lider). Each part begins with a song describing the injustice of a world in which the wealthy and people with famed lineage/pedigree [yikhes] fare so much better than the poor man. „Bay deym ruv‟ is the opening song of the fifth part (in the printed text the line is „Bay deym khosidl in shtub”). Then a spoken skit/dialogue describes how a poor man is accused of being the father of the cook’s child though it is obvious that the wealthy man with yikhes, Khayim Shmul dem gabeles, is the real father. After this dialogue, the skit (and every one of the five parts) ends with the refrain that begins with the expression “Statsh! Reb Khayim…” [How could this be!?]

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW – see notes on her life in earlier songs] sings the song with slighly different words. The one line in her song that seems odd “Entfert zi glakh, gur on a klal” [She answers straight away, without a rule/norm] should probably read „…gur on a trakht‟ [without even a thought], which rhymes and makes sense.

Bay deym ruv and Di broder zinger:

The „author‟ of the song, Yisrol-Yitskhok Tsipershteyn, has a bizarre entry in the Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Lexicon of the Yiddish Theater) ed. Zalmen Zilbercweig, volume 6, Mexico 1969, columns 4927-4928. He was born in 1875 near Slonim, (WhiteRussia/Lithuania) and died in Chicago, August 6th, 1950. The entry only very briefly discusses his days as a badkhn and writer of theater kupletn (couplets, dialogue skits) and barely mentions his Dray naye lider. Most of the information revolves around his invention of a “bicycle airplane” that could also land on water. One writer refers to it as a luft-shif (airship). He patented it in 1917 while in Chicago. He never became wealthy from his patent as he had hoped.

Yisrol-Yitskhok Tsipershteyn

The reason I chose this short song for the Yiddish Song of the Week Blog is that it represents a rare view into the Broder zinger tradition of the 19th century; singers who were the precursors of modern Yiddish theater, performing with songs and skits in the wine cellars of Galicia, Romania and southern Russia starting in the 1850s, then expanding their audience to Poland and beyond.

When the Polish Yiddish actor Zymunt Turkov (Warsaw, 1896 – Israel, 1970) helped put together a play about the Broder zinger in Warsaw in 1938 for the VYKT (Warsaw Yiddish Art Theater) they sought out the old, still living Broder zinger. Actually, times were so bad during the Depression in the 1930s, that the old Broder zinger had started performing again in bars and wine cellars in Lemberg to make ends meet. One of the songs/skits they used in this VYKT production was Khayim-Shmil dem gabeles, reprinted word for word as in Tsipershteyns “Dray naye lider” (This information from the essay „Di Broder zinger‟ in Turkov‘s Shmuesn vegn teater, Buenos-Aires, 1950; reprinted in the introduction to Shloyme Prizament‘s „Broder zinger‟, Buenos-Aires, 1960).

Turkow must have had the printed version in front of him but makes no mention of Tsipershteyn, instead, he adds this comment at the end  – “In this song we encounter one of the first examples of a spoken dialogue.” This implies that Turkow believed the song/skit to be older than Tsipershteyn’s 1900 text. I have to respect Turkow‘s intuition and knowledge on this matter since he was obviously so much closer to that world. And I think he was right about it being older than Tsipershteyn for two reasons…

First, in Noyekh Prilutskis first volume of Yiddish folksongs, Yidishe folkslider, Warsaw 1911, Prilutski discusses another song in Dray naye lider and writes „The publisher assured me that all three songs are folklore and are crawling among the folk [krikhn arum tsvishn folk], to use his expression – in other words, Tsipershteyn was only the one who wrote it down‟ [page 49-50]

And the second reason: Lifshe Schaechter-Widman learned this song at the end of the 19th century, early 20th century in Bukovina – a long way from Slonim and Warsaw. In her repertoire you can hear songs of the Ukrainian, Galician and Romanian Jewish 19th century poets such as Linetski, Zbarzher, Goldfaden, Bernstein, Apotheker, but none of the popular Litvish poet of the 19th century Eliokum Zunser or any other Litvish/Polish poet. She did sing Mikhl Gordon’s song “Afn beys-oylem, unter a matseyve,” but Gordon (1823 -1890) spent the first half of his life in the “north” (born in Vilne) and half in the “south” (the Ukraine) so his songs were known over a wider area. It strikes me as odd that this one song by a Litvish Yiddish badkhn/poet would be included in her repertoire, while Zunser‘s songs were not. It reinforces the idea that Tsipershteyn just printed this Broder zinger song that he had heard and put his name on it.

When one says Broder zinger tradition he refers to the humorous song and skit tradition that was performed in taverns and other spaces and we have texts and music to some of the songs (for example, see Chana Mlotek‘s notes to Berl Broder‘s „Lid fun dem pastekh‟ in the journal Yidisher folklor, vol.1, n. 3, Mar. 1962, page 53.) However, as far as I know, we don‘t have the text to a complete skit, and „Khayim Shmil dem gabeles‟ provides that missing link! LSW‘s song provides the melody to the sung portion of the  performance.

Bay dem ruv in shtib
iz mir zeyer lib,
tsitsikikn vus se tit zikh dort, dort.

In the Rabbi‘s house
I enjoy
looking around and to see what‘s happening there.

Dortn iz men frim
mer vi imedim,
nor eyn zakh gefelt mir nit fort.

They are more observant there,
than anywhere else.
But there‘s one thing I still don‘t like.

Der kekhins bokh
iz hekher vi di nuz
fregt men vus iz dus?

The cook‘s belly
is higher than her nose.
So people ask – What‘s going on?

Zi entfert im glakh
gur on a klal.
„S‘iz fin deym balebus.‟

She answers straight away
without even thinking
„It‘s from the head of the household‟

Reb Khayim Shmil dem gabeles,
A eynikl, dem rebn, reb Abele‘s
Derekh-erets far im
vayl er iz imedim
Khayim Shmil dem gabeles.

How is that possible!?
Reb Khayim Shmil the gabe‘s* son,
A grandchild of the rebbe, Reb Abele.
Respect him,
for everywhere he is –
Khayim Shmil the gabe‘s son.

*Weinreich‘s Yiddish dictionary translates gabe as „manager of the affairs of a Hasidic rebbe‟

בײַ דעם רבֿ אין שטוב
איז מיר זייער ליב,
צוצוקוקן וואָס סע טוט זיך דאָרט, דאָרט.

דאָרטן איז מען פֿרום,
מער ווי אומעדום,
נאָר איין זאַך געפֿעלט מיר ניט פֿאָרט.

דער קעכינס בויך,
איז העכער ווי די נאָז,
פֿרעגט מען „וואָס איז דאָס?‟

זי ענטפֿערט אים גלײַך
גאָר אָן אַ כּלל
„ס‘איז פֿון דעם באַלעבאָס‟.

רב חיים־שמואל דעם גבאילעס,
<אין אייניקל דעם רבין, רב אַבאלעס.

דרך־ארץ פֿאַר אים!
ווײַל ער איז אומעדום,
חיים־שמואל דעם גביאלעס.