Archive for drunk

“Berl der alter shiker” Performed by Janie Respitz

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The singer Janie Respitz  is a Yiddish educator and singer from Montreal. Janie incorporates her singing in her lectures and shares her passion and knowledge of Yiddish folklore with her concert audiences.

As she states at the beginning of this video-recording made in Montreal, July 2017, she learned Berl der alter shiker (Berl the Old Drunk) from the late Max Satin, a resident in the Jewish Geriatric Hospital in Montreal.

Berl der alter shiker is similar to a previous post Shtey ikh mir in ayn vinkele sung by Itka Factorovich Sol.  Respitz’s song is closer to the version found in Skuditski 1936 Monopol, monopol (scan of page attached) but the drunk does not have the conversation with the moon.

In his article Geyt a yid in shenkl arayn: Yiddish Songs of Drunkeness (Field of Yiddish: Fifth Collection, 1993), Robert A. Rothstein analyzes versions of the song and points out that the verse about the wife drinking the whiskey all up is from Velvl Zbarzher’s poem Der shiker (The Drunk) found in his Makel No’am  מקל נועם Vol. 3, Lemberg 1873. Shmuel-Zanvil Pipe also pointed this out in YIVO-bleter, 1939 (vol. 14: 339-667)  Perhaps we should consider the whole text a folklorized Zbarzher song?


“Hi, I’m Jamie Respitz. I learn this from the late Max Satin, a resident in the Jewish Geriatric Hospital, here in Montreal a number of years ago.”

Fun zint der monopol iz af der velt
bin ikh af im in kas.
Es kost mikh op a mayontik mit gelt
un ikh trink azoy vi fun a fas.
Ikh nem dos fleshele in mayne hent
un ikh klap dem koretsl aroys,
tsebrekht zikh dos fleshele in mayne hent
un der bronfn gist aroys.

Haynt vel ikh mit mayn vaybele zikh tsekrign
Zi vet nokh hobn tsu gedenken.
Vifl mol ikh hob ir shoyn farshvign.
Haynt vel ikh ir nisht shenken.
Kh’ob genumen dos fleshele mit bronfn.
Geleygt hob im tsukopns.
Se khapt zikh oyf di ployneste baynakht,
un zi trinkt es oys bizn letstn tropn.

Oy vey, reboyne-shel-oylem.
Du bist dokh a hartsiker rikhter.
Zol shtendik regenen mit bronfn un mit bir.
Ikh vil keyn mol nisht zayn nikhter.
Af mayn keyver zol zayn ongegosn.
Mit bronfn un mit bir.
Dos iz bay mir der iker.
Un af mayn matseyve zol sshteyn ongeshribn –
“do ligt Berl der alter shiker.”

do ligt Berl der alter shiker.

Since the “monopol” [Czarist controlled liquor stores/pubs] is in the world
I am angry at it.
It costs me a fortune of money
and I drink as if from a barrel.
I take the bottle in my hand
and knock the cork out.
The bottle breaks in my hand
and the whiskey pours out.

Today I will argue with my wife.
She will have what to remember [she will pay for it]
So many times I have told her to shut up
Today I will not spare her.
I took the bottle of booze
Put it at my head.
My wife wakes up at night
and drinks it all to the last drop.

O Master of the universe
you are a compassionate judge.
Let it always rain whiskey and beer
So I won’t ever have to be sober.
On my grave let them pour
whiskey and beer,
and on my gravestone it should be written –
“Here lay Berl the old drunk.”

Here lay Berl the old drunk. ​

Monopol, monopol in Skuditski 1936:



“Shtey ikh mir in ayn vinkele” Performed by Itka Factorovich Sol

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

This week’s Yiddish Song of the Week is a submission from Steve Balkin – a 1958 recording he made in Detroit on a Webcor reel to reel tape recorder of his grandmother, a wonderful singer, Itka Factorovich Sol.


Itka Factorovich Sol (left), pictured with her younger sister Channa-Leya “Lizzie” Factorovich in the City of Chernigov, Ukraine, ca. 1910. Courtesy of Steve Balkin.

Balkin writes the following about her:

My bubbe Itka Factorovich Sol (shortened from Zolotnitsky) was from Chernigov, Ukraine (Ukrainian – Chernihiv, Yiddish – Tshernigov) but it might have been Russia then. She spoke Russian and Yiddish, and a little English. She and my zeyde Nathan Sol (Nauach Zolotnitsky), living in Neshin, migrated to Chicago in 1912 and owned and ran a fish store. Up above the fish store lived Menasha Skolnick’s sister. Later in 1955 she moved with us to Detroit. Since my mother worked, she spent a lot of time raising me. She kept a kosher house, sang a lot of lullabies, and was a great baker and cook.  I still have the taste of her taiglach (small, knotted pastries boiled in honey) on my tongue. 


Itka Factorovich Sol (center) with her sisters at a party in New York City, 1948. Courtesy of Steve Balkin.

This is yet another Yiddish song about a drunk who has a conversation with the moon and beats his wife. (See: “Ekh zits mir in shenkl” [“I sit in the tavern”] sung by Michael Alpert on the CD The Upward Flight: The Musical World of S. An-sky and the commentary there.) In fact the number of Yiddish songs about drunks is large enough to form its own section – “Shikurim-lider” – in Folklor-lider vol. 2, Moscow, 1936.

In this song the singer refers to the “monopol”. The liquor store in Russia under the Czar was referred to as the “monopol”, since the Czarist regime had full control over it.

I found two textual variants of this song, and screen shots of them are included at the end of the post. “Epes tut mir mayn harts zogn” is found in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider Moscow, 1933, page 141, #12. “Monopol, monopol” is in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider, vol. 2 , Moscow 1936, page 263-264, #5.

Thanks to David Braun for assistance with the Yiddish text.

Shtey ikh mir in ayn [=a] vinkele
eyner aleyn.
In mayne oygn iz mir fintster;
ze nit vuhin tsu geyn.

Shiker iz di gantse velt.
S’zet zikh (?) dokh aleyn
un di veg iz mir farshtelt.
Ikh ze nit vuhin ikh gey.

Ot ersht, ot ersht hot di levone geshaynt.
Zi hot azey likhtik geshaynt.
Mit a mol hot zi ir ponim farshtelt
Azey vi unter [=hinter] a vant.

Di levone vil a bisele bronfn,
A make hot zi gelt.
Hot zi zikh far mir farshemt
un hot ir ponim farshtelt.

Levone, levone, kum aher,
ikh vel dir epes zogn.
Di velt lozt zikh nokh nit oys;
Ikh ken dir an eytse gebn.

Ikh hob far dir ayn [=a] gutn plan.
Du zolst mikh nor oyshern.
Kum mit mir in monopol,
Farzetsn a por shtern.

Epes tut mir haynt mayn harts zogn
gor a naye zakh.
Ikh vil haynt mayn vayb shlogn.
Es vet zayn zeyer glaykh.

Di letste fleshl fun tsu kopnl
nemt zi bay mir aroys
un trinkt oyset biz ayn [=eyn] tropn
un lozt mir gor nit oys.

Just standing in a corner
all alone.
My eyes see darkness,
I don’t see where to go.

The whole world is drunk.
That everyone can see.
And the road is hidden.
I cannot see where to go.

Just now, just now the moon was shining,
She shone so brightly.
Suddenly she covered her face,
as if behind a wall.

The moon wants a little whiskey.
But money she has none.
So she was shamed before me,
and covered up her face.

“Moon, moon come over here
I want to tell you something.
The world is not coming to an end;
So let me give you some advice.

I have for you a good plan
Please hear me out.
Come with me to the “monopol”  [=liquor store]
We’ll pawn a few stars.”

Something told my heart today
something brand new.
I want to beat my wife;
that will be well deserved.

The last bottle that’s by my head
She takes away from me.
She drinks it down to the last drop
and leaves me none.
































“Epes tut mir mayn harts zogn” is found in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider Moscow, 1933, page 141 #12:



“Monopol, monopol” is in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider, vol. 2 , Moscow 1936, page 263-264, #5: