Archive for crime

“Zey, mayn kind” Performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2019 by yiddishsong

Zey, mayn kind / See, my child
Performance by Khave Rosenblatt.
Recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, 1974, Jerusalem

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This curious song, I would venture to guess, comes from a musical play of the turn of the 20th century. It starts off as a critique of money (“Dos shtikele papir” – “that little scrap of paper”) but then becomes a quick review of how to keep a kosher home. It seems to address two separate aspects in the plot of a play.

100karbovantsevunr_r

100 Karbovantsiv note from the short-lived Ukrainian National Republic, 1917. Note the Yiddish text at bottom. 

Khave Rosenblatt is a wonderful singer and her style of performance reinforces the probable theatrical connection with this song. She sings in her Ukrainian Yiddish dialect that is called “tote-mome-loshn” [father-mother-language], because the “a” sound becomes “o”. For example in the first line she sings “faronen” instead of “faranen”.  As always in this blog her dialect is reflected in the transliteration, not the Yiddish transcription.

A reader asked Chana and Yosl Mlotek about this song in their Forverts column Leyner demonen zikh (Readers Remember) on June 23, 1974 but they could find no additional information. The reader remembered only the first four lines beginning with “Her oys mayn zun” (“Listen my son”).  In the original recording, Rosenblatt says before she sings that “the song is known, but I have never heard anyone sing it”.

Rosenblatt also sang this song for Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and that recording is found on the website of the National Library of Israel (listen for the first song at 2:16).

Special thanks for this week’s post to David Braun for help in deciphering the text.

TRANSLITERATION

Zey, man kind, s’iz faronen af der velt
a shtikele papir.
Se git a numen urem in gevir.
Se makht groys far kleyn
narunim far yakhsunim.
shoyte far klige
in khakhumim far meshige.

Derkh dir harget eyner ’em tsveytn.
In derkh dir kriminaln, arestantn in keytn.
derkh dir geyt eyner di moske farkert.
Di oygn farglentst
in di pleytses farkrimt.
In vus far a maskirn iz alts tsulib dir
kedey ustsirasn bam tsveytn
dus shtikele papir.

Oy, zey man kind, zolst dikh firn bikshire.
Zolst nit zan keyn gozlen
in keyn yires-shomaimdike tsire.
In zolst nisht klopn “ushamni”
in nit tin vu’ di vilst.
Zolst nisht farglentsn mit di eygelekh
in zolst nit ganvenen keyn gelt.

Derof  shray ikh gevold
a’ dus iz user
Eyder tsi makhn fin treyfe kusher
in fin kusher treyfes.

Tepl in lefl tsim ruv gey derval
oyf deym ribl freygt keyner keyn shales.
Fleysh veygt men oys
in me zoltst es oys.
A ey mit a blitstropn varft men aroys.
Derim darf’n oykh dem ribl  oykh git boydek tsi zayn
Se zol in deym ribl keyn fremder blitstrop aran.

TRANSLATION

See my child, how there is in this world
a little piece of paper.
It marks the poor and the wealthy.
It turns  great ones into small ones,
foolish ones into privileged ones,
idiots into brilliant ones,
the wise into crazy ones.

Because of you one kills the other,
and because of you criminals, convicts walk in chains.
Because of you one’s mask is upside-down,
the eyes are rolled up, the shoulders hunched up.
And any masquerading is all because of you –
to tear away from another
that little piece of paper.

Oh, see my child, that you should lead a proper life.
You should neither be a robber,
nor walk around with a God-fearing mug.
Don’t beat your heart “we are guilty”,
and don’t do whatever you want.
Don’t roll your eyes,
and don’t steal any money.

Therefore I shout help
that this is forbidden;
to make something kosher from unkosher,
and from kosher something unkosher.

For a spoon in a pot go ask the Rabbi,
but about the heating stove, no one ever asks any questions.
Meat should be soaked and salted.
An egg with a blood drop should be thrown out.
But the heating stove should be well inspected
So no outside blood drop should fall into it.

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Urke Nakhalnik’s “Din-toyre” Performed by M. Bauman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2010 by yiddishsong

This week’s Yiddish Song of the Week, Urke Nakhalnik’s Din-toyre, was recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman in the Bronx, 1980s. The singer was a neighbor, M. Bauman, from either Lodz or Warsaw.

Urke Nakhalnik (1897-1942?) was a convicted criminal and after his release from prison in 1933, he became  a writer in Yiddish and Polish writing a hit book based on his experiences in the Jewish underworld. During the Second World War, living in Otwock, he died a hero’s death. His life was truly amazing. See Edward Portnoy’s entry on him in The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, but even better, see Portnoy’s article on him in Tablet in which he discusses the play Din-toyre (a “din-toyre” is a case before a rabbinic court) produced in Warsaw 1933. Portnoy believes this song was sung by the character who played Urke.

Urke Nakhalnik

Another Yiddish song that refers to a din-toyre is Levi-Yitskhok Bardichever’s 19th century “A din toyre mit Got” and one wonders whether this one is dialogically connected to the earlier one.

Bauman does not have a strong voice, and is barely on key, but he nicely captures the theatrical nature of the song– particularly his “Rex Harrison/My Fair Lady” spoken lines in the middle of the performance. The fine line between the underworld and revolutionaries is underscored in the text.

 Finster khoyskhek shpet bay nakht 
Tir un toyer zenen farmakht 
Krikh ikh, zikh ikh broyt far vayb un kind 
Sʼvert nor tinkl af der gas 
Nemt zi bald dem shvartsn pas*
In a vinkl, gants tinkl 
Farkoyft zi dort ir layb.

Dark, gloomy late at night, 
Door and gate are locked 
I crawl, I search a piece of bread for wife and child 
As soon as it gets dark on the street
She takes out her black pass*
In a corner, quite dark 
She sells her body.

Oy vi biter iz dos lebn fun a nash brat
Finster khoyshekh iz dos lebn fun undzers a yat. 
Es felt keyn mol key mure-skhoyre, skhoyre 
Shtendik nor in shrek, in moyre, moyre 
Vi shver kimt undz on dos trikn shtikl broyt.

Life is bitter for a fellow in crime 
Dark and gloomy is the life of one of us lads.
Gloom is never short in supply,
Always fearful, afraid, afraid,

How hard it is to get a piece of bread [to make a living]

Farvos kimt aynem raykhkayt farmegn 
dem tsvaytn nisht?
A din-toyre vil ikh fregn 
An entfer git.

Why is one rewarded with riches and wealth, 
and not the other?
I want a lawsuit [before a rabbinic court]
Give me an answer.

Farvos kimt aynem raykhkayt, ashires, ashires, 
Lukses oysgeputste, dires dires, 
Un azoy fil lebn in tsores un groyser noyt?

Why is one rewarded with wealth and riches 
luxurious decorated apartments,
and so many live with troubles in great poverty?

Ikh trakht un ken dos nisht farshteyn 
Farvos men halt undz far gemeyn 
Shpasn, undz hasn,
ver git zey dos rekht?

I think but I canʼt understand 
Why we are considered so vulgar,
Mocked, hated,
who gives them the right?

Farvos iz haynt aza min velt? 
As shtark iz der vos nor hot gelt
hipokritn, banditn,
men shekht, men blaybt gerekht. 

Why do we have such a world today? 
Where only the one with money is strong? 
Hypocrites, bandits,
They slaughter and are considered just.

Zey zaynen dos di faynste mentsn,
zey, alts far zey 
Far zey horoven oreme mentshn,
 far zey, alts far zey.

Hey are the finest people,
everything goes to them
 
Poor people slave for them,
everything goes to them.

Kleyne ganovim hengt men, hengt men. 
Groyse ganovim, shenkt men, shenkt men, 
Un azoy iz dos lebn, tomid ayngeshtelt. 

Small thieves get hanged 
Important thieves are rewarded
Thatʼs how life has always been.

Un azoy geyen di teg un di yorn
shnel, gikh farbay.
freg keyn kashes, un keyn khasroynes 
shtil ayngeshvaygt.

And so the days and years go by
 fast, quickly,

Donʼt ask questions, and see no faults, 
still, remain quiet.

Se helft kayn veynen un keyn trern, trern, 
keyner vil dem krekhts nit hern, hern, 
zey zaynen dos di faynste mentsn 
zey alts nor zey. 

Your crying and tears wonʼt help, 
No one wants to hear your groaning 
They are the finest people, 
All goes to them, only to them.

*shvartser pas = black permit. In interwar Poland, prostitutes could legally work with a “black permit”

Notes by Itzik Gottesman