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“Eyns un tsvey” Performed by May (Menye) Schechter

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Eyns un tsvey / One and Two
Performance by May (Menye) Schechter
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Circle Lodge Camp, Hopewell Junction, NY, 1985

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

To welcome the beginning of the school year we present a Yiddish children’s song written and composed in New York but sung by the children in Eastern Europe Jewish schools as well.

The singer May Schechter (Yiddish name “Menye”)  was born in August 1920 in Soroki (Yiddish- Soroke), Bessarabia, then Romania. She died this year, February 2018.

may schechter picMay (Menye) Schechter 1920-2018

In an interview I conducted with her in 1986 at Circle Lodge, the Workmen’s Circle camp in Hopewell Junction, NY, Schechter explained that the children in Soroki performed this song as part of Zishe Weinper’s (Vaynper) children’s operetta Der bafrayter (The One Who Was Liberated). Der bafrayter was published by Farlag Matones in 1925, NY. We are attaching the Yiddish words and music (composed by N. Zaslavsky/Zaslawsky) as it appeared there. Yosl Kotler did wonderful illustrations for the publication.

befrayter pic
Picture of Der Bafrayter by Yosl Kotler

May Schechter’s daughter, Naomi Schechter, wrote  about her mother:

She liked to say “I came in singing and I’m going to go out singing” and she was able to do that almost to the end, sharing Russian songs with her caretaker Luba and Yiddish and other songs with me. She also loved to dance. She had many talents including being a world class seamstress able to make couture suits, drapery and just about anything, carrying on the tailoring tradition of her family…

May Schechter’s husband was Ben Schechter, the long time manager of the Folksbiene Yiddish theater in NY.

The poet Zishe Weinper (1893 – 1957) came to America in 1913. He was a central figure in the Yiddish left and a number of his poems appealed to composers, among them “Toybn” and “A pastekhl, a troymer”. His song Zingendik, music by Paul Lamkoff, was another American Yiddish children’s song that became popular in Eastern Europe.

The composer Nathan Zaslavsky (1885 – 1965) immigrated to the US in 1900 and composed a number of other Yiddish songs. Sarah Gorby recorded this song twice we are attaching the MP3 of the version on:  Sarah Gorby – Yiddish et Judeo-Espagnole (Arton Records).

One verse of the  song was also recorded by Masha Benye and Workmen Circle school children on the LP Lomir zingen lider far yidishe kinder. Since May Schechter and Sarah Gorby both came from Bessarabia one has to wonder whether the play Der bafrayter was especially popular there.

Special thanks to Naomi Schechter for this week’s post, as well as Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound Archive.

TRANSLITERATION

Eyns un tsvey, eyns un tsvey
eyns un tsvey iz dray.
Zun bahelt undzer velt.
Leybn iz keday.

Zum, zum, zum?
Zum, zum, zum?
freygt ba mir a flig.
Tra-la-la, tra-la-la
entfer ikh tsurik.

Tsvey un tsvey, tsvey un tsvey
tsvey un tsvey iz fir.
Vintl bluz afn gruz,
bluzt es oykh af mir.

Tri-li-li, tri-li-li
zingt a vaserfal.
Blyasket blendt, glit un brent.
Iber im a shtral.

Fir un fir, fir un fir
fir un fir iz akht.
Af a kark fun a barg
hot zikh ver tselakht.

Kha-kha-kha, kha-kha-kha
ver zhe lakht es dort?
Kha-kha-kha, kha, kha, kha
Me hert dort nisht keyn vort.

Finf un finf, finef un finf
finef un finf iz tsen.
kling klang klingt
Foygl zingt.
Vazt mir, vos er ken.

Foygl flit, taykhl tsit
Ikh tsi oykh mit zey.
Eyns un eyns, eyns un eyns.
Eyns un eyns iz tsvey.

TRANSLATION

One and two, one and two
one and two is three.
Sun light up our world,
It’s worth living.

Zum, zum, zum, zum, zum, zum?
A fly asks me.
Tra-la-la, tra-la-la
Is my reply.

Two and two, two and two
two and two is four.
Breeze blows on the grass
and so too it blows on me.

Tri-li-li, tri-li-li
sings a waterfall.
Shines and dazzles, glows and burns
A beam of light above.

Four and four, four and four
four and four is eight.
On the neck of a hill
someone was laughing.

Ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha
who is laughing there?
Ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha
Not a word is heard.

Five and five, five and five
Five and five is ten.
Kling-klang rings, the bird sings
Shows me what he can do.

Bird sings, river attracts,
and I am drawn to them.
One and one, one and one
One and two is three.

eyns1

eyns2
eynsmusic
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