Archive for Dora Libson

“Mentshn getraye: a matse-podriad lid” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This year’s Passover is now complete, so please save this song for next year’s festival!

Mentshn getraye: a matse-podriad lid is the second matse-baking song we have posted on Yiddish Song of the Week. The first was “Mir nemen veytslekh”, sung by Dora Libson.  Mentshn getraye was recorded from Jacob Gorelik by Michael Alpert and me in New York City in 1984, and Alpert later recorded his own performance of the song on the Lori Cahan-Simon Ensemble’s CD Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me: Volume One: Passover.

MatseBaking

Pre-war matse baking [from the Yad-Vasham Photo Archives]

In this posting we present original field recording of that song. The tradition of Matse-podriad continues in religious Jewish circles today and one can see samples of it on the internet. The spirit has remained jovial, often musical, over the years. Here is a current example with the Mishkoltz Rebbe:

Jacob Gorelik introduces the song with these words:  “…the second song I heard in my town. My mother and other mothers sang it. It was called the “Matse-podriad-lid”.  In town there was a custom, that once a year when Passover came, money was collected especially for poor people who could not buy matse, could not buy wine. Help! No way to celebrate Passover. It [custom] was called moes-khitin. That was one thing.

The second thing was – the matse was the primary thing. So the whole town got together and there was complete unity – the orthodox, the “modern” ones, the Zionists,  Bundists, socialists. They used to rent a house with an oven, and buy wood, buy flour and hire people to bake the matse. And this was called a community “matea bakery” by the entire Jewish community.

And as someone once asked – when you sing, or you do something good – do you do it for youself or for the other person? It was a combination. One had it mind that you were doing it for the poor. You were baking matse for them. But at the same time, at that time it was a joy in town becasue it was  a boring life.  It was also an opportunity for girls and boys to get together. And we used to sing and this is one of those songs that were sung. Who composed the song…This song is light verse. It’s not ‘pure’ poetry; but it’s humorously colored. According to what Mendel Elkin once told me the writer was Tunkel – or “The Tunkeler” [The dark one] his pseudonym.

The melody, I learned later when I was living in America, comes from a Ukrainian song “Nutshe Khloptse”. And now the song:

Mentshn getraye, farnumene un fraye,
Bay vemen es iz nor tsayt faran.
Git aher ayer pratse, un helft bakn matse,
dem noyt-baderftikn man.

Hentelekh ir kleyne, eydele un sheyne,
bikhelekh nor trogn ir kent.
Pruvt nor visn, eyn mol in Nisan
dem tam fun mazolyes af di hent.

Ir gvirishe meydlekh, helft kneytn teyglekh
mit ayere vaysinke hent.
Teygelekh geknotn vi Got hot gebotn,
Kosher un erlekh un fayn.

Spoken: A freylekhn Peysekh! Flegt men zogn  alemen.

TRANSLATION

Dear people, those who are busy, and those who are free.
Whoever has some time to spare.
Donate your labor to help bake matse
for the man in need.

Little hands, delicate and beautiful,
who only could carry books.
Get to know at least once during the month of Nisan,
the taste of calluses on your hands.

You well-off girls, help knead the dough
with your white hands.
Flour all kneaded, as God has commanded,
Kosher, and honest and fine

Spoken: “Happy Passover!” Is what we wished everyone.

MatsaBakingYID-page-001MatsaBakingYID-page-002

CROP 3 MatsaBakingYID-page-003

Though Gorelick was from Byelorussia, the song text is also found in the writings of Galician writer Soma Morgenstern, who quotes it in his book “The Third Pillar” (1955), page 59, translated from the German [see below]. I have yet to find this poem in Der Tunkeler’s writings.

Morgenstern Cropped

“Mir nemen veytslekh” Performed by Dora Libson

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Mir nemen veytslekh is a matso-baking song, sung in a Litvish-Yiddish dialect by the singer Dora Libson. This version was recorded in 1977 by Lionel Libson. Dora is from the Western Ukraine. [See her earlier post in this blog for her biography].

The collective baking of matse during the weeks preceeding Passover was, (and is in Orthodox circles today) a joyous event, and the songs that accompany the event, are playful work songs. For another example listen to Michael Alpert sing Dos lid fun matse bakn on the Lori Cahan-Simon Ensemble‘s CD Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me, Volume One: Passover.

The singer sings “moyre” instead of “meyre,” a dialectical hypercorrection. Meyre is the dough of the matse.

I was unsure of the words in a couple of places and any corrections or suggestions would be welcome.

Mir nemen veytslekh

“We Take Wheat”

Mir nemen veytslekh, a fule koyshn,
Afile ot azelkhe.
Un mir moln, un mir moln,
moln veytslekh bilkhe.

We take wheat, baskets full
Even ones like these.
And we grind and we grind
Grinding the preferred wheat.

Itstert kinder nemt a zipke
un tsezipt di mel.
Zipt zhe, zayt zhe, zipt zhe, zayt zhe,
varft aroys di klayen.

Now children take a sifter
and sift the flour.
Sift and strain, sift and strain.
Throw out the bran.

Itstert kinder farkatsht di arbl,
Khane ober [oder] dvoyre.
Shit on mel, gist on vaser,
un farknet a moyre [meyre].

Now children roll up your sleeves,
Khane or Dvoyre.
Pour out flour, pour out water,
and knead the meyre.

Un fun der moyre shnaydt on teyglekh,
shnaydt on teyglekh kleyne.
Velgert, velgert, velgert, velgert,
velgert matses sheyne.

And from the meyre cut up clumps of dough.
Cut up the clumps small.
Roll and roll, roll and roll [with the rolling pin.]
Roll the beautiful matzos.

Itstert kinder nemt a redl,
a redl mit sharfe tseyner.
Redlt, redlt, redlt, redlt,
feln zol nisht keyner.

Now children take the hole puncher,
a puncher with sharp teeth.
Puncture, puncture, puncture, puncture,
And no one should be missing.

Itstert kinder zetst di matses;
der eyvn [oyvn] iz a heyser.
Vasht zikh opet, nemt aroyset,
Esn vi der keyser!

Now children put in the matzos,
the oven is hot.
Wash up and take them out,
Let‘s eat them like the emperor.  

“Gabe! Vos vil der rebbe?” Performed by Dora Libson

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

Thanks to Bob Freedman, we were able to contact Dora Libson‘s son Aaron Libson in Philadelphia, and he told us the following about singer Dora Libson.

Dora Libson was born in the village of Sasovo, in the Western Ukraine, officially in 1908, but he believes 1906 or 1907. She died in Philadelphia in 1985. Her father departed for America in 1913 and they were supposed to follow a year later, but the first World War broke out, and they only came to the US in 1924, after a year in Cuba. During those years they also lived in Mekarev (Yiddish name) and Kiev (the USSR).  In Kiev at the Evreiski Bazaar (Jewish market)Dora heard many street singers and learned a number of songs and “kupletn” in a number of languages.  Much of her repertoire is from her home in Sasovo. 

In Philadelphia she joined several choirs including the Freiheit Gesang Verein in the 1930s. When that choir was rejuvenated in the 1960s in Philadelphia her son Aaron also participated along with her. The family once had a recording of Dora singing songs in a number of languages – Russian, Spanish, Yiddish – but it was lost. The recording of Gabe! Vos vil der gabe? was recorded by Bob Freedman in the 1970s.

Gabe! Vos vil der rebbe? (Gabe! What Does the Rebbe Want?) is one of those Yiddish songs that, it seems, was very popular but was almost never recorded. I could only find a version on the field recordings done by Joel Engel in the 1920s produced recently by the Vernadsky Library in Kiev.  

Menachem Kipnis‘s collection 80 folkslider, Warsaw, n.d. (you can find it on line at the National Yiddish Book Center‘s catalog) contains three similar songs: Lekoved dem Heylikn Bim Bom (page 63), Gabe, Vos vil der rebe? (page 65) and Lekoved dem heylikn shabes (page 67). 

Libson‘s version of the song pokes fun at the rebbe and his khasidim, but the Kipnis version of Gabe! (which is the closest to Libson‘s song) is a playful song but without the mockery. Just a change of a few words is all that‘s needed to turn a khasidic song into an anti-khasidic song.

Ethel Raim, Artistic Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, adds this comment about Libson‘s singing:

Dora’s singing is easy going, subtle in nuance and character, and right on target in terms of traditional singing!”

Gabe!
Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil me zol derlangen di fish.
Tsu vos darf men di fish?
Kedey di khsidimlekh zoln zikh zetsn tsum tish.

 REFRAIN:
Oyneg leshabes, bim-bom-bom
Taynig  leyontif, bim-bom-bom.

Gabe!
What does the rebbe want?

Der rebe wants us to give out the fish.
Why do we need the fish?
So that the Hasidim will sit down at the table.

REFRAIN:
The joy of Sabbath, bim-bom-bom
The pleasure of holiday, bim-bom-bom

Gabe!
Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil, me zol derlangen di lokshn.
Tsu vos darf men di lokshn?
Keday di khsidimlekh zoln esn vi di poylishe oksn.

Gabe!
What does the rebbe want?
The rebbe wants us to give out the noodles.
Why do we need the noodles?
So that the Hasidim will eat like Polish oxen.

Gabe!
Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil, me zol derlangen dem kompot.
Tsu vos darf men dem kompot?
Kedey di khsidimlkeh zoln hobn klopot. 

Gabe! 
What does the rebbe want?
The rebbe wants us to give out the fruit dessert.
Why do we need the fruit dessert?
So that the Hasidim will have something to do.