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“In dem vaytn land Sibir‟ Performed by Chana Yachness and Rukhele Yachness

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

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

It was very sad and shocking news to hear that Chana Yachness passed away on September 29th, 2013. She grew up in the leftist (“linke”) Yiddish circles of New York, loved Yiddish culture and was a wonderful link to that world. She was beloved by all and this week‘s contribution to the Yiddish Song of the Week is in her memory.

Chana and ted
Chana Yachness and her husband, Ted Haendel.
Photograph by Emily Socolov.

Her mother Rukhele Barak Yachness was a fine Yiddish singer and actress and in this recording (which I recorded in the Bronx, 1999) they sing together a revolutionary folksong In dem vaytn land Sibir that can be found in the volume of Moshe Beregovski’s writings and transcriptions edited by Mark Slobin, Old Jewish Folk Music (1982, see below). It‘s obviously not a perfect recording with bantering and joking – Chana sings the name of Yiddish actor “Maurice Schwartz‟ instead of “khmares shvarts‟, but it is the only recording I can find of the song. Their spirited interpretation gives one the sense of how a Yiddish revolutionary song used to be performed, especially by Jewish choruses.  Note that in the Beregovski volume there is a second verse; Chana and Rukhele sing the first and third.

Many of the Yiddish songs that are sung by di linke today, including In dem vaytn, were learned from the folk operetta  A bunt mit a statshke (A Revolt and a Strike) assembled from songs printed in Beregovski‘s song collection of 1934 by the choral leader and conductor Jacob Schaefer and critic Nathaniel Buchwald. This operetta was not only performed by the choruses of the time, 1930s, but in the Yiddish leftist camp Kinderland (at Sylvan Lake, Dutchess County, NY) where Chana no doubt learned it in the late 1940s and 1950s. See the recent documentary on Kinderland – Commie Camp

The West Coast musician Gerry Tenney had long planned with Chana Yachness to produce this operetta again; see Hershl Hartman‘s post on A Bunt mit a statshke on the email-list Mendele from 1997.

In the distant land Siberia
Where the sky is always covered by clouds,
I was banished there,
for one word – for freedom.
I was beaten with the whip,
so I would no longer say
“Let there be freedom – to hell with Nicholas‟

Soon will come the happy time,
Soon we will know from near and far,
that Russia is bright, that Russia is free.
“Let there be freedom – to hell with Nicholas‟

YachnessItzik

YachnessLyrics1

YachnessBeregovski1

YachnessBeregovski2

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“Eykho” Performed by Clara Crasner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

With this entry, we mark one year of the Yiddish Song of the Week blog. Thirty-two songs have been posted to date, and we hope to improve upon that number in the coming year. Once again a sheynem dank to Pete Rushefsky, Executive Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance and our webmaster for this project of CTMD’s An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture, and to all of those who have submitted materials. Please spread the word and send us your field recordings of Yiddish songs!

I have never previously heard Eykho, a powerful pogrom-song written about the plight of the Ukrainian Jews who were escaping the pogroms in the Ukraine in 1919. In the Yiddish of this area, (see Sholem-Aleichem) the word „goy‟ refers specifically to a Ukrainian peasant. I believe Crasner means this in her song, but am not sure. In any case I find it remarkable that the song rhymes one of the holy names for God – „a-donay‟ with „goy.‟

In Eleanor and Joseph Mlotek‘s song collection Songs of Generation, they include a version of the song as it was adapted during the Holocaust (see pages 277-278 attached below). It differs textually from this version in most verses. Where I was not sure about certain words, I placed a question mark in brackets. For the last line of the refrain the Mloteks wrote „Re‘ey ad‘‟ [Look God!] I could not hear that in this version. She also sings here “Cast a glance at the Ukrainians‟ but in the Mlotek songbook it says “Cast a glance at the Jews.‟ But when she sings “Ukrainians‟ in this sentence, she means Ukrainian Jews.

„Eykho‟ is also the Hebrew name for the Book of Lamentations.  This is the first recording available of the song and it was made by Crasner’s son-in-law Bob Freedman. Cick here for more information about the singer, Clara Crasner.

Clara Crasner: I went I came over the border to Romania, and – You listening? and wanting to continue onto other towns – I had no passport, so I traveled with the impoverished ones from one …. Every day we were in a different town until I came to Yedinitz.
Bob Freedman: What year?
Crasner: 1919.
Freedman: Who is talking now?
Crasner: Clara Crasner, born in Sharagrod.
Freedman: Which territory?
Crasner: Podolya
Freedman: And the song?
Crasner: The song is from Bessarabia; Jews sang if for us from the Ukraine, describing how we felt upon arriving to Romania.

Farvolknt der himl, keyn shtral zet men nit,
Es royshn nor himlen, es regnt mit blit.
Es royshn di himlen, es regnt, es gist.
Karbones un retsikhes in di merderishe hent.

The sky is cloudy; no ray could be seen.
The skies are rushing, it‘s raining blood.
The skies are rushing, it‘s raining, it‘s pouring.
Victims and cruelties are in the murderer‘s hands.

REFRAIN

Eykho, vi azoy? Vos shvaygstu dem goy?
Vu iz tate dayn rakhmones, .A..[?} A – donay/
Fun dem himl gib a kik,
af di Ukrainer a blik.
Lesh shoyn oys dos fayer un
Zol shoyn zayn genig.

Eykho, how could it be?
Why are you quiet against the non-Jew?
Where, father, is your pity….A-donay.. [God]
From the heavens take a look
Cast a glance at the Ukrainians,
Extinguish already the fire and
let it come to an end.

Shvesterlekh, briderlekh fun yener zayt taykh,
hot af undz rakhmones un nemt undz tsun aykh.
Mir veln zikh banugenen mit a trukn shtikl broyt.
Abi nit tsu zen far zikh dem shendlekhn toyt.

Dear sisters and brothers from the other side of the river,
take pity on us and take us in.
We will be satisfied with a dry piece of bread.
As long as we don‘t see in front of us a shameful death.

REFRAIN

Kleyninke kinderlekh fun zeyer muters brist.
me shindt zey vi di rinder un me varft zey afn dem mist.
Altinke yidn mit zeyer grue berd,
zey lign nebekh oysgetsoygn mit di penimer tsu der erd.

Little children taken from their mother‘s breast.
are skinned as if they were cattle and thrown in the trash.
Old Jews with grey beards
are now lying stretched out with their faces to the ground.

REFRAIN

Undzere shvesterlekh, geshendet hot men zey azoy;
zey hobn nebekh zikh nit gekent oysraysn fun dem merderishn goy.
Vu a boydem, vu a keler, vu a fentster, vu s‘dort [?}
Dortn ligt der Ukrainer yid un zogt a yidish vort.

Our sisters were raped
they could not, alas, get free from the murderous non-Jew.
In an attic, at a window, wherever [?]
There lay the Ukrainian Jews and says a Yiddish word.

REFRAIN