Archive for Chernovitz

“Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2018 by yiddishsong

Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner / I am a Small Gypsy (Rom) Lad
Pre-war version from Chernovitz, Romania.
Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG]
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center, Bronx 1980s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The more popular song version of this poem by Itzik Manger (1901 – 1969) was composed by Hertz Rubin (1911 – 1958) and has been recorded by at least thirteen artists. According to Chana and Yosl Mlotek in Songs of Generations, the singer Masha Benya received that version from Manger’s widow Genia Manger after the second world war in NY.

MangerItzik Manger in his Chernovitz days, 1920s

But this earlier version has a different melody, and slightly different words without the “Ekh du fidele du mayn” refrain. BSG learned this song in Chernovitz, which was Romania between the world wars and is now in the Ukraine.

Manger’s lyrics carry a number of commonly-held negative stereotypes about Romany (Gypsy) culture. However, considering the time in which he was writing, through first-person narration, Manger creates a sympathetic window into the challenges faced by Roma including poverty, oppression, and a sense of otherness as a minority community. The ever-wandering Manger, no doubt, felt like a kindred spirit.

In the Ruth Rubin Legacy: Archive of Yiddish Folksongs at YIVO, Sore Kessler sings this Chernovitz version and explains she learned it from the Yiddish poet M. M. Shaffir in Montreal. Shaffir was also from the Bukovina region (not Bessarabia as Kessler says in her spoken introduction), and a friend of BSG. Some of Kessler’s text differs and she sings a verse that BSG does not:

Shtendik zaynen mir af vegn,
mir af vegn.
Say bay nakht,
un say in regn.

Always are we travelling,
travelling [on the roads.]
Both at night
and in the rain.

Accordionist Mishka Zignaoff (who was a Yiddish-speaking Russian Rom musician based in New York) recorded the melody as Galitzianer khosid (Galician Hasid) in a medley with the famous Reb Dovidl’s nign.

I am posting this song to mark Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s 5th yortsayt (1920 – 2013) which falls on the second candle of khanike.

BeyleItzikTapes2Beyle and Itzik Gottesman looking over Yiddish field recordings, 1970s.

TRANSLITERATION

BSG Spoken: [Itzik Manger] iz geveyn maner a landsman, un hot geredt Yidish vi ekh. Vel ikh zingen in durem-yidish azoy vi er hot geredt. “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” un di lider vus ikh zing zenen a bisele, tsi mul, andersh vi ir zingt zey, val ikh ken zey nokh fun der heym.

1) Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner, gur a kleyner
ober vi ir zeyt a sheyner.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Ikh veys nisht vi ikh bin geboyrn, bin geboyrn.
Di mame hot mikh in steppe farloyrn
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

2) Dem tatn hot men oyfgehongen, oyfgehongen
Vayl er iz ganvenen gegangen
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Burves, hingerik un freylekh, ober freylekh
Fil ikh zikh vi a ben-meylekh.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

3) In mayn lidl kent ir hern, kent ir hern
Mayn tatns zifts, mayn mames trern.
Tra-La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

S’kost in gantsn nor a drayer, nor eyn drayer.
S’iz mayn veytik gurnisht tayer.
Trala-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

TRANSLATION

BSG Spoken: “[Itzik Manger] was from the same city as me and spoke Yiddish as I do. So I will sing in the southern Yiddish that he spoke.  “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” and the other songs that I will sing are a little different than the way you sing them because I learned them form home.”

I’m a small Gypsy lad, a very small Gypsy lad,
But as you see good-looking.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

I don’t know where I was born, was born.
My mother lost me somewhere in the Steppes.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

They hanged my father, hanged my father
Because he went thieving.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Barefoot, hungry and merry, always merry.
I feel like a prince.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

In my song you can hear, can hear
My father’s sigh, my mother’s tears.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

It will only cost you three kopecks.
My suffering doesn’t cost much at all.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la
tsigaynerl 1

tsigaynerl 2

tsigaynerl3

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“Lomir ale in eynem marshirn” Performed by Beyle Schaechter Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2018 by yiddishsong

Lomir ale in eynem marshirn / Let’s All March Together
Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG), recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx, 2010.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

BSG Picnic

Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman on a picnic outside of Chernovitz with friends, mid 1930s. Probably from the group leftist Zionist group Hashomer Hatzair.

A Yiddish school song that Beyle Schaechter Gottesman learned in Chernovitz, Romania, later 1920s, early 1930s either in the Bundist Morgnroyt school or the more leftist Der yidisher shul-fareyn.

TRANSLITERATION

Lomir ale in eynem marshirn
Af di felder shpatsirn azoy — eyns, tsvey.
Lomir ale in eynem zikh rirn
Af di veygn zikh rirn azoy – eyns, tsvey

Purlekh, purlekh geshlosene reyen;
in der mit zol keyner nisht zan.
Lomir geyn in geshlosene reyen,
Lomir geyn, lomir geyn, lomir geyn.

TRANSLATION

Let’s all march together
In the fields, let’s go this way – one, two.
Let’s all move together;
on the roads let’s move – one, two.

As couples let us close ranks,
no one should remain in the middle.
Let’s close ranks,
Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.

Lomir Yiddish

“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].

MayerJuly

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.

TRANSLITERATION

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!

TRANSLATION

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!”

sike1sike2sike3

“Der nakhtvekhter” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

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

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

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

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

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

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


Der nakhtvekhter

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

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

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

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

The Night Watchman

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

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

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

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

nakhtvekhter

Mark Varshavski’s “Vi halt ikh dus oys?” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

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

Vi halt ikh dus oys? – How Can One Stand It?
Words and Music: Mark Varshavski
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recorded by Leybl Kahn NYC 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Vi halt ikh dus oys is surely one of the saddest songs from a composer, Mark Varshavski (aka Warshavsky) known for his classic nostalgic and upbeat songs such as Oyfn pripetshok, Milner’s trern and Di mezinke oysgegebn.

In her brief discussion with Leybl Kahn before and after she sings, LSW connected the -message of the song to the Zionist movement; a commentary on the eternal wandering of the Jews. She also affirms that she learned it from an aunt in her small town of Zvinyetshke in the Bukovina.

For a full biography of Mark Varshavski (1848 – 1907) see the YIVO Encyclopedia.

mark varshavsky picMark Varshavski in Berdichev, 1900 (YIVO)

In her very emotional performance, the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW] stays remarkably close to the original text which is attached at the end of the post from the volume “Yidishe folkslider fun M. M. Varshavski” One interesting textual change, however, is in the line where LSW sings:

Farentfer di kashe, Got di bist groys
[Answer the question – God you are vast/supreme]

In Varshavski’s original text it reads:
S’farenfert di kashe, Got du bist groys
[The question is answered by – God you are vast/supreme]

The folklorized words by LSW address God directly, reflecting a more intimate relationship with God than in Varshavki’s version.

I could not find a previous recording of this song, neither on record, CD nor in field recordings. However, a song about Mendel Beilis and his infamous trial (1911-1913), accusing him of a blood libel is based on this Varshavski song. Lorin Sklamberg, YIVO sound archivist and lead singer for The Klezmatics, sang Dos lid fun Mendel Beilis at YIVO in 2013:

Thanks for help with this week’s post to Lorin Sklamberg.

TRANSLITERATION

Vi halt men dus oys? Farshtey ikh nisht kh’lebn.
Es iz shoyn fin Got azoy mir bashert.
Bay veymen s’iz a yontif dus shtikele leybn:
Bay mir iz dus leybn shvarts vi di erd.
Far vus un far ven, fregt mekh nit eyner.
Farentfer di kashe – Got di bist groys.
Es triknt in mir der marekh fun mayne beyner,
un ikh halt dus nit oys; ikh halt dus nit oys.

Vi halt men dus oys? Es iz avade a vinder.
Vi ikh shlep mayne krank, geshvolene fis.
Ikh blondze arim mit mayne ureme kinder
un vi ikh kim iz finster in vist.
A du ken ikh nisht shteyn, a du tor men nit lign.
azoy tsit men fin mir mayne koykhes aroys.
Vu ikh gey her ikh eyn nign –
Ikh halt dus nit oys; ikh halt dus nit oys.

A yeder fin aykh, say rakh say urem,
hot dus alte beys-oylem shoyn gezeyn.
Dort lign alte, tsebrokhene kvurim,
un fun dort hert men a geveyn.
Azoy iz tsebrokhn iz mir yeder eyver,
di velt iz mir fintster khotshe zi iz groys.
Oy, dek dikh af gikher, di fintserer keyver.
Vayl ikh halt dus nit oys, ikh halt dus nit oys.

TRANSLATION

How can one stand this? I swear I don’t understand.
It must be decreed from God.
For those who enjoy a little of life –
For me is life black as the earth.
Why and for what reason? No one asks me.
Answer the question, God you are supreme.
The marrow of my bones is drying
and I can no longer stand it, I can no longer stand it.

How can I stand it? It is truly a wonder.
I drag my sick, swollen legs.
I wander aimlessly with my poor children
and wherever I come, I feel dark and deserted.
There I may not stand; here I may not lay.
And in this way my strength disspipates.
Wherever I go I hear only one tune –
I cannot stand this; I can no longer stand this.

Each of you, the rich and the poor
has surely seen out Jewish cemetery.
There lay old, broken graves
and from deep in the graves one hears a cry.
Thus is broken in me every limb.
The world is as dark as it is vast.
O, cover me up you dark grave
Because I can no longer take it, I can no longer take it.

vi halt 1 yidvi halt 2 yid

warshavkiBookWarshavski1Warshavski2

“Af mayn tatns dakh” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2018 by yiddishsong
Af mayn tatns dakh (On My Father’s Roof)
Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG)
recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx 1991.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

From 1947 to 1951 Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG)  lived in displaced persons camps in Vienna. Two of them were Arzberger and Rothschild Hospital where her husband, Jonas Gottesman was the chief physician. She arrived there after two years in Bucharest. Since she was born in Vienna in 1920 (but grew up in Chernovitz) she could legally leave Bucharest at that time, while her husband, mother and brother had to cross into Austria illegally.
DP Beyle Lifsha

In Vienna circa 1949, from left: Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (mother), Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (daughter), friend Mitsi Weininger.

BSG believed she learned this song in Vienna during this time and wrote down the words in a notebook. In 1991 we found that notebook and I asked her to sing the songs she had written down in it.

The first line of the refrain “Sheyn bikh ikh sheyn, sheyn iz oykh mayn nomen” and text of the second verse are better known with a different melody in a  children’s song. Ruth Rubin includes it in her print collection Jewish Folk Songs and recorded it. More recently it can be heard on the CD “Voices of Ashkenaz”, featuring the singing of Svetlana Kundish and Deborah Strauss.

TRANSLITERATION:

Af mayn tatns dakh hengt a gildener krants
hant oder morgn, vu’zhe darf ikh zorgn?

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun same rabunim.

Bay di rabunim iz di Toyre groys,
ikh vel zan a kalele – a  bliendkie royz.

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun loyter rabunim.

Holtz in der kamer, a vaser in hoz.
Ale mise bukhirim fun shteytele aros.

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun loyter rabunim.

Eyner vet zan maner,  a sheyner, a faner,
Zetst zikh nor nit leybn mir, bist nokh nit mit mane.

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun loyter rabunim.

Got vet dir bashern vesti mane vern,
Vesti zetsn leybn mir, vet keyner dikh nisht shtern.

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun loyter rabunim.

Fli feygele fli,  fli zhe tsi man khusn!
Vet er mir shikn a halbn livyusin.

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun loyter rabunim.

TRANSLATION:

On my father’s roof hangs a golden wreath.
Today or tomorrow: so why should I worry?

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.

For the rabbis the Torah is great:
I will be a bride – a blossoming rose.

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.

Wood in the shed, water in the house
All ugly boys – get out of town.

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.

One will be mine – a handsome  and a fine one.
But don’t sit next to me – you’re not mine yet.

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.

God will destine it for you and become mine.
If you will sit next to me, then no one will bother you.

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.

Fly, birdie, fly, fly to my groom.
And he will send me half of the Leviathan.

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.
BSG1BSG2

“Af a shteyn zitst a reytekh mit a khreyn” Performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2017 by yiddishsong

Af a shteyn zitst a reytekh mit a khreyn
On a Stone Sit a Turnip and a Horseradish
performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Text by Eliezer Shteynbarg, music by “Prof. Kohn”.
Recorded in Jerusalem by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, 1970s.
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

use as picture

Illustration by Arthur Kolnik in Eliezer Steinbarg’s Mayn alef-beys (My Alphabet), Chernovitz, 1921

TRANSLITERATION
(in Khava Rosenblatt’s dialect)

Of a shteyn, of a shteyn
zitst a reytekh mit a khreyn.
Eytekh – beytekh! zugt der reytekh
Vus s’iz der himl azoy reyn?
Eytekh – beytekh! zugt der reytekh
Vus s’iz der himl azoy reyn?

Lomir beyde tontsn geyn.
Lomir beyde tontsn geyn.
Bald gevorn iz a freyd
in gelofn s’kind un keyt.

S’tantst a reytekh mit a khreyn!
Vi zhe loyft men dus nit zeyn?
Meshiakhs tsat hot men gemeynt
in me hot far freyd geveynt.

Eykh bin oykhet dort geveyn
Eykh bin oykhet dort geveyn
tsigeshtipt hob ikh mikh shver
in kh’ob oykh gelozt a trer!

TRANSLATION

On a rock, on a rock
sit a turnip and a horseradish.
I beg of you, says the horseradish:
Why is the sky is so clear ?
I beg of you, says the horseradish:
Why is the sky is so clear ?

Let’s both go dancing!
Let’s both go dancing!
Soon there was such a celebration
and everybody ran over.

A turnip dancing with a horseradish!
How could you not run to see?
The Messiah has come we all thought
and for joy we all cried.

I was also there.
I was also there.
With difficulty I pushed myself through
and I too let fall a tear!

The text of this song is slightly altered from Mayn alef-beys (My Alphabet) by Eliezer Steynbarg (1880 – 1932) published in 1921, Chernovitz, Romania; a classic work of Yiddish children’s literature with illustrations by Arthur Kolnik, Ruven Zelikovitsh (later known as Reuven Rubin) and Solomon Lerner. The original text in Yiddish is attached below.

Khave Rosenblatt was born in a Shatava, a Ukrainian town near Kamenets-Podolsky.  In 1917 the family moved to briefly to Khotin (Khotyn/Chotin) in Bessarabia and then to Chernovitz, Bukovina. There she was a kindergarten teacher in a Hebrew school and emigrated to Israel with her husband and child in 1934. Her husband had been a famous eye doctor in Romania but became a natural healer in Israel saying he would no longer spill blood. He died in 1945. In Israel Khava Rosenblatt worked for the Kupat Kholim, the national health care agency in Israel.

Rosenblatt’s family was very close to the poet laureate of Chernovitz, Eliezer Steynbarg, and she helped proofread the first volume of his Mesholim (Fables) published in Chernovitz in 1933 which appeared posthumously. She recalls that the composer of this song, and others by Steinbarg, was someone named Prof. Kohn.

In the small collection Eliezer Shteynbarg: gezungene lider edited by Hersh Segal, Rekhovot, 1977, the editor writes that except for one song in the collection, none of the composers are known. Attached is the music to this text from that 1977 collection which is similar.

Another song from Mayn Alef-beys – “Der ber” (aka – “Af di aksl mit tsvey kanen”) – was recorded on the Living Traditions CD “Di grine katshke“.

Thanks to Dr. Paul Glasser for assistance with this week’s post.

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