Archive for Chana Mlotek

“Az got hot bashafn mentshn af der velt” Performed by Ita Taub

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Since we start reading the book of Breyshis (Genesis) this week of Sukes, I thought it would be appropriate to post this recording of Ita (Eda) Taub singing a song about Adam and Eve and the snake. I recorded it from her in 1984 at the Circle Lodge Workmen’s Circle camp in Hopewell Junction, NY.

The words and music appear in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin. Wayne State University Press, 2007. Rubin recorded this song [tape 26] in 1962, and I recorded it again 20 years later at Circle Lodge, a camp for adults in upstate New York.The two versions are the same except for one or two words.

In the Rubin book she translates “Hot Got tsigenimen di reyd fun zayn layb” as “God perceived the needs of Adam’s body”. Literally, one should translate this line as “So God took away the speech from his body.” But I would think that the line once was “Hot Got tsigenimen di rip fun zayn layb” (God took out the rib from his body). This is supported by the version in Yiddisher folklor, ed. Y. L. Cahan (YIVO, Vilna, 1938), song #199 that is attached at the end (we’ve also included #200, for a similar melody).

The song, I believe, is very old and includes midrashim (interpretations or extensions) of the Biblical telling of Adam and Eve and the snake. Similar motifs can be found in the so-called “Women’s Bible”(the Tsene Rene) and the classic midrashic collections. The line “Eve, Eve what have you done? An entire world you did destroy” reflects the midrash that Eve had all the animals take a bit of the apple (except the immortal Phoenix bird) and therefore mortality was introduced into the world (see also Louis Ginzburg’s Legends of the Jews, Volume One).

adam-eve-serpent

Given the simplicity of the melody, almost a recitative, and the subject matter, my feeling is that the song evolved from a Yiddish woman’s prayer, a tkhine.

After the song Taub talks about the impression this song and her other song, Oy vey mame (also on the Yiddish Song of the Week Blog) left on her friend, the historian Raphael Mahler (who also recorded songs and nigunim for Ruth Rubin). She then tells us where she learned the songs.

The footnote in the printed Rubin version adds that the last verse refers to biting the umbilical cord, but this is not clear to the listener I believe.

Additionally, Michael Alpert and Julian Kytasty have recorded the song on their wonderful album Night Songs From a Neighboring Village (Oriente, 2014). You can hear it at the beginning of this video:

LYRICS TO TAUB’S VERSION:

1) Az got hot bashofn mentshn af der velt
oy, mentshn af der velt.
Oy, udem harishen tsum ershtn geshtelt.

2) Udem harishen iz shpatsirn gegangen in vayngurtn aran.
Oy iz im a vab in zin aran.

3) Hot Got tsigenimen di reyd fin zan lab,
Un hot im gegegeybn Khoven far a vab.

4) Oy Khove mit Udem zenen shpatsirn gegangen in vangurtn aran.
Iz Khoven an epl in der rekhter hont aran.

5) Iz tsigekimen di beyze shlong “Khove, Khove,
gib a bis dem epl, vesti zen vi zis er iz.”

6) Oy hot zi genimen un gegebn a bis deym epl.
Oy hot zi gezen vi zindik zi iz.

7) Hot zi genemen a blot kegn der levone,
un hot zikh tsigedekt dos zindike punim.

8) Hot zi genimen a blot kegn mist,
un hot zikh tsigedekt di zindike brist.

9) Khove, Khove vus hosti getrakht?
A velt mit mentshn imgebrakht.

10) “Nisht ekh hob es getun, nisht ekh hob es getun
di beyze shlong hot es tsigetrakht.”

11) “Zibn yur zolsti trugn, shver un biter zolsti hubn.
Af di skoles zolst dikh rasn, un ven di vest es hubn, zolst es tsebasn.”

Dialogue After the Song:

Dus iz take epes zeyer, zeyer originel. Vu’ zhe iz – hot er [Raphael Mahler] gevolt nemen di tsvey lider, un nokh tsvey lider, ikh gedenk shoyn nisht vus. Ober di zenen geveyn di ershte. Az er vil nemen un mekh arimfirn iber di kibutzim. Zol er zey vazn vus se meynt originele ekhtkayt. Un az zey farshteyn nisht di shkutsim, vel ikh zey shoyn derklern. Ikh vel shoyn derklern vus dus iz. Zey veln dus zeyer shtark upshatsn, zugt er. ___kibutz.]

Gottesman: Fin vanen kent ir dus lid?

Taub: Fin vanen dus lid? Dus lid gedenk ikh fin der heym ___ Dortn vi me hot geneyt. Es fleygn zan a pur meydlekh un zey fleygn zingen. Dus ershte lid [Oy mame ikh shpil a libe] hot gezingen man miters a shvester. Zi iz geveyn farlibt, hot zi demlt gezingen dus lid.

Gottesman: Vi hot ir dus gezingen?

Taub: In Skedinits, mayn shteytl.

Gottesman: Ven hot ir dus gehert, ven zi hot gearbet?

Taub: Zi hot gemakht di breyte kleydlekh vus di poyertes trugn. Fleyg zi neyen far zey.  Iz zi gezesn bay a mashin un hot geneyt un ikh hob es zikh oysgelernt.

Gottesman: Tsi hot zi gezingen andere lider?

Taub: Ir veyst vifl yurn di ale zikhroynes…dus iz tsulib aykh vus ikh grub aroys ikh zol zikh dermanen. Ober ikh ken nisht gedenken.

TRANSLATION:

When God created people in this world
O, people in this world,
O, Adam was the first one he made.

Adam went walking into the vineyard,
O, then a wife came into his head.

So God took out his speech from his body,
and gave him Eve for a wife.

O, Adam and Eve went walking in the vineyard
And a red apple came into Eve’s hand.

Then the evil snake came over – “Eve, Eve, Eve
Take a bite out of the apple,
So you will see how sweet it is.”

O, then she took a bite out of the apple,
and realized how sinful she is.

Then she took a leaf against the moon,
and covered up her sinful face.

Then she took a leaf against her waste,[?]
and covered up her sinful breast.

Eve, Eve what were you thinking?
A whole world full of people you’ve condemned to death.

“It was not I who did it, it was not I who did it –
the evil snake thought it up.

” Seven years you should be pregnant,
hard and bitter should your birth be, on the cliffs may you climb,
and when you give bith, you should bite it to death”.

Dialogue after the song:

Gottesman: Where do you know this song from ?

Taub: Where do I know this song from? This song I remember from home. ____ The place where we sewed. There used to be a few girls who used to sing.

The first song [Oy mame ikh shpil a libe] was sung by my mother’s sister. She was in love so she sang that song.

Gottesman: Where did you sing it?

Taub: In Skedinits (Stidenitse, Ukraine), my shtetl.

Gottesman: When did you hear it, when she worked?

Taub: She made the broad dresses that the peasant women used to wear.. She used to sew for them.  So she sat at the [sewing] machine and sang.

Gottesman: Did she sing other songs?

Taub: Do you know how old these memories are?…For your sake I am digging them out and remembering them. But I can’t remember them.

bashafn1bashafn2bashafn3

bashafn4

bashafn5

bashafn6

bashafn7

As published in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin (Wayne State University Press, 2007):

rubin-musicrubin-music-2

As published in Yidisher folklor, ed. Y. L. Cahan (YIVO, Vilna, 1938):

199a199b

yivo1yivo2

other-music

 

 

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“In kheyder keseyder” performed by Clara Crasner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2013 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is the third song we have posted by Clara Crasner, b. 1902 in Shargorod (a town near Vinnitsia, Ukraine). As she says after she sings the song, she learned this song in Romania approx. 1919-1920, where she waited for two years to get papers to come to America. Freedman recorded the song again, and this time she says that she learned it from a 5 year old boy.

Robert Freedman (Crasner’s son-in-law) recorded the song in 1972 and sent it to Chana and Yosl Mlotek for their Yiddish Forward newspaper column Leyner dermonen zikh lider – Readers Remember Songs. Below is a copy of the column with the Mlotek’s response, where they identify a number of published variants (click the image to enlarge):

mlotek crasner kheyder

With its uneven verse lines and “un-Jewish” melody, In kheyder keseyder sounds as if it could be a newer Yiddish theater song of the time.

Ven ikh bin a kleyn yingele geveyzn.
Hob ikh zikh gebudn in taykh.
Ven ikh bin a kleyn yingele geveyzn
hob ikh zikh gebudn a sakh.

When I was a small boy,
I bathed in the river [or lake].
When I was a small boy
I often bathed.

Gebudn, geplyusket, gelofn aheym
Hot mir der rebbe derzeyn.
Un hot mikh mekhabed geveyn.

I bathed, splashed and ran home,
but the rebbe spotted me.
And “honored” me [meant ironically – beat, punished]

Freyg ikh im farvus?
Farvus kimt mir dus?
Entfert er mir dus:

So I ask him why?
Why do I deserve this?
And this is how he answers me:

In kheyder keseyder,
a yingele darf zitsn dort.
In kheyder keseyder,
Sha! Un redt nisht keyn vort.

Always in kheyder [traditional elementary religious school]
is where a boy should sit.
Always in kheyder
Quiet! And don’t say a word.

Ven di volst in kheyder gegangen,
volsti di toyre derlangen.
Volsti geveyzn a yid, a yid.
Volt dir geveyzn gants git, gant git.

If you were to attend kheyder,
you could attain the Torah.
Then you would be a Jew, a Jew
And you would feel real good, real good.

In kheyder keseyder….

In kheyder keseyder

“Dos daytshl” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2013 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The Yiddish Song of the Week is glad to be back after a brief hiatus caused by a hurricane-related telecommunications breakdown.

“Dos Daytshl”  (“The German Guy”) as sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW] (see previous posts for her biography) is linguistically the most complicated song yet posted.

The comic ballad is international and found in many languages and is known in the Child canon as “Our Goodman” (#274). The texts have remained remarkably similar through time and languages. My folklore professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Kenneth Goldstein, played us a field recording he had made of African-American kids in West Philadelphia singing a rap version of this ballad and the words were almost the exact ones as the Yiddish lyrics LSW sings.

In The Folks Songs of Ashkenaz (pp. 139 – 142) edited by Philip V. Bohlman and Otto Holzapfel (2001), the editors make an interesting comparison of a Yiddish version found in the Ginsburg-Marek collection to a German version collected in German colonies in southern Russia. Unfortunately, they only compare the texts, though several Yiddish versions with melodies have been printed (for example, one melody of a Yiddish version exists in Yidisher folklor, YIVO 1938). Their brief history of the ballad indicates that the German versions of the song came from a Scottish variant in late 19th century, and after it was published in a German almanac in 1790 it circulated much more widely.

There are many printed Yiddish versions of the song, most recently in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive  (p. 30-31)  edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin. Their introduction refers to other printed Yiddish versions. On the Yiddish ballad in comparison to other international versions read Chana Mlotek’s “International Motifs in the Yiddish Ballad” in For Max Weinriech on his Seventieth Birthday. The Yiddish ballad was still popular into the 1930s in Eastern Europe.

Since LSW comes from the Bukovina, where Jews were fluent in Yiddish and German, the German element in the song has to be analyzed not just as Germanisms in a Yiddish text, but as to what these German words evoke when sung by a Yiddish folksinger who is performing a comic song making fun of a German. Does the singing of  “Eyns, tsvey, drey” and not “dray” which would be the correct form in both Yiddish and German, indicate a funny hypercorrection of a German based word in Yiddish?

Of course, it’s not just any German being made fun of here, but a German peasant or farmer. The Germanisms also imply that such a song about a cuckold would “never” be sung about a Jewish husband and wife. Since LSW usually sings slow mournful songs it’s refreshing to hear her sing a comic song with such gusto and drama.

Click here to listen to Lifshe Schaechter-Widman performing “Dos daytshl”

Dos daytshl
The German Guy

Kum ikh zikh arayn in kukhl
Gefin ikh zikh – okh un vey!
In kukhl hengen zeybls –
eyns un tsvey un drey.

I enter my kitchen
What do I find – woe is me!
In the kitchen are hanging swords,
One and two and twee.

Dan rukh ikh zikh mayn vaybkhin
“Kindkhin vos iz dos?
Vos far a zeybls hengen dort?
Akh vi ruft men dos?”

So I call in my wife
Dear child, what is this?
What are those swords hanging there,
What do you call them?

Hey, di lumpiker man,
vos zeystu zeybls dort?
Bratfanen zenen dort,
vos mayn muter shikt tsu mir.

Hey, you silly man,
what swords do you see there?
Frying pans are there
that my mother sent to me

Kum ikh zikh arayn in shtale,
gefin ikh zikh – okh un vey!
In shtale shteyen ferde –
eyns un tsvey un drey.

I enter the stalls,
and what do I find – woe is me!
In the stalls are standing horses,
One and two and twee.

Dan rukh ikh zikh mayn vaybkhin –
kindkhin vos iz dos?
Vos far a ferde shteyen dort,
akh vi ruft men dos?

So I call in my wife,
Dear child what is this?
What are those horses standing there,
what do you call it?

Hey, di lumpiker man,
dos zint kayn [?] ferdchen dort
milikh ki, zenen dort,
vos mayn miter shikt tsu mir.

Hey, you silly man,
Those are not horses there.
Milk cows are there,
that my mother sent to me.

Kum ikh zikh arayn in shloftsimer,
Gefin ikh zikh okh un vey!
In shloftsimer shlofn mener –
eyns un tsvey un drey.

I enter into the bedroom,
What do I find – Woe is me!
In the bedroom men are sleeping,
One and two and three.

Dan ruf ikh zikh mayn vaybkhin
kindkhen vos iz dos?
Vos far a mener shlofn dort –
akh vi ruft men dos?

So I call in my wife,
Wife, what is this?
What men are sleeping there,
How do you call this?

Hey, di lumpiker man,
vos rifsti mener dort.
Dinstmegde zenen dort,
vos mayn muter shikt tsu mir.

Hey, you silly man,
what are calling men over there,
Servant girls are there,
that my mother sent to me.

Dinstmegde (n) mit bakn berd?
Okh un vey un vind
Vos far a man bin ikh bay dir,
az fremde mener komen tsu dir.

Servant girls with bearded cheeks?
Woe is me.
What kind of husband am I to you,
If strange men are visiting.

Daytshl 1
Daytshl2
Daytshl3
daytshl4

“Brider, Zog” by Sholem Berenshteyn

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Brider, zog (Brother, Say) is by the 19th century Yiddish poet Sholem Berenshteyn. No one seems to be sure of his life dates (and not even his first name – some say Shmuel) but he lived in Kamenetz-Podolsk, Ukraine, and died before 1880. In 1869 he published his collection Magazin fun yidishe lider far dem yidishn folk in Zhitomir, which was reprinted several times.

The best source for his biography is Zalmen Reisin‘s Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, volume 1. Reisin considers him one of the first Yiddish folkpoets and even the poet Mikhl Gordon („Maskhe‟, „Di bord‟) considered him a better poet than himself. As Reisin points out, his work sometimes touches upon typical maskilic themes (anti-Hasidic, Russian patriotism) but he mostly stays clear of them, and his most popular poems became songs with traditional themes such as Brider zog and Sholem-Aleykhem which the Bessarabian folksinger Arkady Gendler sings on his recording, released in 2001, Mayn shtetele Soroke, produced by Jeanette Lewicki.

The most extensive discusssion of the song Brider, zog is in Joseph and Chana Mlotek‘s book Perl fun der yidisher poezye which was recently translated into English by Barnett Zumoff as Pearls of Yiddish Poetry, Ktav Publishing. The song was originally titled Zmires has 15 verses; what was sung were the first four verses.

I have attached the Yiddish words and music in the version found in Z. Kisselhof‘s Lider zamlung far der yidisher shul un familye, St. Petersburg 1911 which is very close to the version sung here.

The unidentified singer is clearly more of a „pro‟ than we are used to hearing in the songs posted on this blog. But listening to her interpretation of khasidic song does raise interesting questions about the “art song” interpretation of khasidic style. The late, great Masha Benya, among others, comes to mind in this regard. This singer turns a song, which melodically could be quite boring, into an interesting performance.

I know this song from my mother, Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, who learned it from her mother, Lifshe Schaecther Widman, and the words as they are sung here are almost exactly the same (we sing „Ver vet lakhn, un khoyzek makhn…‟).

Thanks again to Lorin Sklamberg, sound archivist at YIVO, who allowed us to post another song from the YIVO Stonehill collection.

A folkslid…khsidish.
A folksong, khasidic.

Brider zog, vi heyst der tog,
ven mir ale zenen freylekh?
Der yidele, der kleyner, der kusherer, der sheyner
Iz dokh dan a meylekh.

Tell me brother what is the day called
when we are all joyous?
The Jew, the little one, the kosher one, the beautiful,
Then feels himself like a king.

Shabes aleyn, kimt tsu geyn,
Freyt aykh kinder ale!
Oy tantst kinder, yederere bazinder,
Lekoved der heyliker kale.

The Sabbath itself arrives,
Be happy all you children!
O, dance children, each on his own,
in honor of the holy bride.

Dos iz klor, vi a hor
az shabes is di kale.
Der khusndl der sheyner, iz nit keyner.
Nor mir yidelekh ale.

This is obvious as a hair,
that Sabbath is the bride.
The beautiful groom is no one else
but all of us Jews.

Un ver es lakht, un khoyzek makht.
Fun der kale-khusn.
Der vet take esn a make
fun der side-levyusn.

And he who laughs, and mocks
the groom and bride.
He will indeed eat nothing
at the Leviathan-feast.

o, brider zog….

“Tunkl brent a fayer” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

For more on Jacob (Yankev) Gorelik see the previous post on “A baysphil.” He sang Tunkl brent a fayer (“A Fire Burns Dimly”) in his apartment in the “Chelsea hayzer” (Penn south), on 7th avenue and 25th street in Manhattan, circa 1985.  This song about an “agune,” a women who was abandoned by their husband, is part of a genre of agune-songs in Yiddish. Chaim Grade’s Yiddish novel The Agunah (translated in English with that title) depicts the complexity of dealing with the agune, and the rabbinic disagreements over when to declare the woman free to remarry.

I believe one hears the influence of the great singer Sidor Belarsky in Gorelik’s singing, even when he sings his mother’s songs from his hometown. I have included the spoken introduction below because it was typical of how Gorelik would frame a song he was about to perform for a larger audience. It’s interesting how he implies that by attending the Yiddish theater, the immigrant was thereby just a short hop from meeting new women and abandoning the wife in the old country.

The scanned music and words are from the songbook Songs of Generations compiled by Chana and Yosl Mlotek. Gorelik had, apparently, sent Tunkl brent a fayer to the Mloteks  who ran a column “Readers remember” in the Yiddish Forward newspaper. Chana Mlotek continued to write the column  after Yosl Mlotek’s death in 2000.

A song of an “agune,” an abandoned woman, that I heard from my mother, may she rest in peace.

There was a time, the emigration, the great emigration at the beginning of the 20th century and earlier, and many wandered out to America. Towns were emptied out. Many women remained with children. They didn’t hear anything from their husbands. Some were faithful and sent over their most recent earnings to their wives; shared it with their wives and children.

Others forgot. In the “Golden Land” they forgot about their old home. They wanted a little joy and happiness and started to go to the theater; met other women and forgot that they had “an old home,” a wife and child. And such women were called “agune” – “she was connected” as long as the husband did not free her. And songs were composed on this on the spot.

I had heard such a song among the folk, and another one I heard from my mother, may she rest in peace. She had a golden voice when she sang. In general my mother sang minor-keyed (sad) songs.