Archive for Eliezer Niborski

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman Performs “Ale meydelekh hobn khasene”

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Ale meydelekh hobn khasene / All the Girls are Getting Married
A children’s song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954, NYC

TRANSLITERATION 

LSW’s son, Mordkhe Schaechter, introduces the song: “Nokh a kinderlid” – “Another children’s song.”

Ale meydelekh hobn khasene,
Eykh blab aleyn.
Oy, mame, s’iz avade
nit sheyn.

Tate, gey afn ben-zukher,
un kloyb mir oys a bukher.
Ale meydelekh hobn khasene.
Un eykh blab aleyn. 

TRANSLATION

All the girls are getting married.
I remain alone.
Oy, mame, of course
it’s not nice.

Father, go to the ben-zokher
and pick out a groom for me. 
All the girls are getting married.
And I remain alone. 

,אַלע מיידעלעך האָבן חתונה
.איך בלײַב אַליין
אוי, מאַמע, ס’איז אַוודאי
.ניט שיין

 טאַטע, גיי אויפֿן בן־זכר
.און קלויב מיר אויס אַ בחור
.אַלע מיידעלעך האָבן חתונה
.און איך בלײַב אַליין

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman 

The third line of this short children’s song was difficult to understand, but thanks to Yiddish teacher and researcher Eliezer Niborski, I believe we have the complete correct version. 

A ben-zokher (“zukher” in LSW’s dialect) is a ritual on the Friday night following the birth of a boy. At the home of the new born, the parents serve guests and relatives wine and fruit. The phrase “ben zokher” is from Jeremiah 20:15. See Hayyim Schauss’ description of the tradition in his work The Lifetime of a Jew.

“Wedding” by Issachar Ber Ryback, c. 1930

Niborski also found the ben-zokher – bokher rhyme in two other sources. One in a children’s song that Ruth Rubin sings, “Tate, tate, gey afn ben-zukher”, as heard at YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive. The second he found in the essay by I. L. Peretz “Dos yidishe lebn loytn yidishn folkslid” (“Jewish Life as Depicted in Yiddish Folksong”)

Special thanks to Eliezer Niborski and the Ruth Rubin Archive at the YIVO Sound Archive. 

“A kheyder” from Simkhe Shvartz’s Kamelyon Theater Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

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A scene from Simkhe Shvartz’  Kamelyon theater in Chernovitz, Romania early 1930s.
As remembered and sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG], recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx 1990s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

From right: Simkhe Shvarts, Itzik Manger, Helios Hecht, Rose Auslander, Chernovitz, 1934.
Photo from Efrat Gal-Ed Niemandssprache

BSG spoken: 

Dus iz a sene vus Simkhe Shvarts hot ofgefirt in Chernovitz mit der amatorn-trupe Kamelyon.  “A kheyder” hot dus geheysn. 

This is a scene that Simkhe Shvarts put on in Chernovitz with the amateur troupe “Chameleon”.  It was called “A kheyder”. [traditional elementary school]

Tsigele, migele, kotenak
Royte pomerantsn.    
Az der rebe’z nishtu in kheyder, 
Geyen khevre tanstn. 

Nem zhe Tshaykl dem rebns kantshik 
Un varf im aran in hribe.
Ikh’n helfn dos kind talepen [telepen] 
Der rebetsin Teme-Libe.  

Avek di mamzer, di pachuk
Moykhl dir dus vign
Bald vet der rebe kimen. 
Vesti dans shoyn krign

Kinder der rebe’z in shil. 
Kimt zhe tsi aher in 
lernt dus naye shpil    
Shpiln zikh iz git, oy git.
ernen zikh, oy nit oy nit.
Shpiln zikh iz tayer    
Der kantshik ligt in fayer.   

A gitn-uvnt Libe! 
A gitn yingnmantshik.   
Freyg im nor deym takhsit. 
Vi es ligt der kantshik. 

[4 pupils reply]
“Rebe, ikh veys nisht”
¨Ikh veys gurnisht rebe.”  
“Rebe, ikh oykh nisht.”  
“Ikh veys oykh nisht rebe”

“Az s’i nishtu keyn kantshik 
iz du a rimen mit a shprontshik.
Arinter, lernen!¨   

Little goat, little kitten
Red oranges
When the teacher is not in school
The gang starts to dance. 

So Tshaykl take the teacher’s s whip  
and throw it into the heating stove.
I will help the teacher’s wife, Teme-Libe 
knock around the child

Get away you scoundrel, you rat
I don’t need your rocking. 
Soon the teacher will come
and you will get yours.

Children, the teacher is in the synagogue
so come over here
and learn the new game.
Playing is good, oy good.
Learning is not, oy not.
Playing is precious
The whip is in the fire. 

“Good evening Libe”
“Good evening, my young man.
Just ask this brat
where he put the whip”.


 “Teacher, I know nothing”
 ¨I know nothing, teacher.¨
“Teacher, I too know nothing”
“I too know not, teacher”

¨Well if there’s no whip
There is the leather strap with a buckle.
Sit down and learn!¨ 

BSG added later, spoken: Everyone then sat down around the long table and started to rock back and forth and learn. Meanwhile the teacher fell asleep, so they took his leather strap and threw it into the fire. Then they sang again the first verse again:

Tsigele, migele, kotinak….

The Kamelyon [Chameleon] theater in Chernovitz was founded  in 1929 and directed by Simkhe Schvartz (aka Simcha Schwartz – September 1, 1900 – August 14, 1974),  a leader of Yiddish culture between the world wars in the Romanian city Chernovitz (today in the Ukraine –  Cernivtsi). He was a sculptor, dramaturge, director, and songwriter. He is perhaps most known for his Parisian Yiddish puppet theater Hakl-bakl (1949 – 52) in which Marc Chagall and Itsik Manger participated. Simkhe Shvartz had two younger brothers, Julian Shvartz and Itzik Shvarts (aka I. Kara), also writers and important figures in the Yiddish cultural world in Romania.

The skits of Kamelyon , created by Shvarts, often were comprised of adapted Yiddish folksongs strung together to form a plot. “A kheyder” uses folky elements: the opening rhyme is adapted from the children’s rhyme  “Tsigele, migele kotinke” (two examples in Ginzburg/Marek, 1901 and two more in I. L Cahan, 1952). Ruth Rubin sings two versions that can be listened to in YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive. https://ruthrubin.yivo.org/categories/browse/Dublin+Core/Title/Tsigele%2C+migele%2C+kotinke?site=site-r

More recently, Israeli singer Ruth Levin sings a song that begins with Tsigele-migele, words by J. Joffe, music by N. Zaslavsky on her CD of children’s songs Tsigele-migele

Singer/composer Efim Chorney has set music to Yiddish poet Meir Charat’s song “Tsigele-migele” and it can be found on the Klezmer Alliance CD Mir Basaraber.

Another folk element in “A kheyder” – the melody of the Yiddish folksong, “Dire-gelt” is used (can be found in the Mlotek songbook Mir trogn a gezang.) starting with the line “Shpiln zikh iz git.”

Please note that the teacher in the traditional elementary school, the kheyder, is addressed as “rebe” and is not to be confused with a Hasidic leader also called “rebe”.

Special thanks this week to Eliezer Niborski.



“Kale lebn, kale lebn” A Badkhn Parody Performed by Dora Libson

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Kale lebn, kale lebn
A badkhn parody sung by Dora Libson
Recorded by Lionel Libson, 1977

Transcribed by Eliezer Niborski, English translation by Itzik Gottesman.

Kale-lebמ, kale-lebn
Kale-lebn, kale-lebn,
Meyn darfsti veynen un shrayen.
Az zolst hobn aza velt azoy zis
vi borsht fun klayen.
Un zolst darfn geyn borgn un layen.
Un zolst keyn mol nit aroys
funem rov un funem dayen.

Dear bride, dear bride,
You should cry and scream some more.
You should have a world so sweet
as borsht made with bran.
You should rely on borrowing and lending.
And may you never get out from 
the rabbi and his assistant.

Oy, a ber un a shver un a shlimazelnitse 
zenen dokh oykhet darbay.
A ber hot a langn veydl 
un a shver hot lib a sheyn meydl.
Un az a shlimezalnitse geyt in mark – 
fardripet zi dus kleydl.

Oy, a bear and a father-in-law and an unlucky woman
are also present. 
A bear has a long tail,
and a father-in-law loves a pretty girl.
And when an unlucky woman goes to market
she spatters her dress

Oy, a bukher un a meydl un a shlimezalnitse
zenen dokh oykhet darbay.
A bukher az er geyt avek heyst men zikh im nit (h)aylen.
un a meydl, az zi geyt avek heyst men zikh ir nit zamen.
Un az me shikt a shlimezalnitse nokh fleysh 
brengt zi plyamen.

Oy, a young man and girl and an unlucky woman
are present as well. 
A young men when he leaves is told not to hurry
and a girl, when she leaves is told not to wait.
And when you send an unlucky woman to buy meat
she comes back with stains. 

כּלה־לעבן, כּלה־לעבן
,מיין דאַרפֿסטו וויינען און שרײַען
אַז זאָלסט האָבן אַ וועלט אַזוי זיס
.ווי באָרשט פֿון קלײַען
,זאָלסט דאַרפֿן גיין באָרגן און לײַען
און זאָלסט קיין מאָל ניט אַרויס
.פֿונעם רבֿ און פֿונעם דיין

אוי, אַ בער און אַ שווער און אַ שלימזלניצע
.זענען דאָך אויכעט דערבײַ
אַ בער האָט אַ לאַנגן וויידל
.און אַ שווער האָט ליב אַ שיין מיידל
–און אַ שלימזלניצע גייט אין מאַרק
.פֿאַרדריפּעט זי דאָס קליידל

אוי, אַ בחור און אַ מיידל און אַ שלימזלניצע
.זענען אויכעט דערבײַ
אַ בחור, אַז ער גייט אַוועק, הייסט מען זיך אים ניט אײַלן, [אַרויסגערעדט „הײַלן”]
,און אַ מיידל, אַז זי גייט אַוועק, הייסט מען זיך איר ניט זאַמען
,און אַז מע שיקט אַ שלימזלניצע נאָך פֿלייש
… ברענגט זי פּליאַמען 
[“וואַריאַנט־מערצאָל פֿון „פּליאַמע“ = „פֿלעק]

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In the spirit of Purim this week, we present a parody of a badkhn’s bazetsns.  Before the ceremony of veiling the bride, the wedding entertainer, the badkhn, used to address the bride, reminding her of the youth that she leaves behind and how to lead an observant Jewish life with her husband. Sometimes the rhymes would be a stretch, almost non-sensical  and that is at the heart of the parodies.

I believe the repeated lines in our parody “…are also present” are mocking the lines of the badkhn when he reminds the bride that although her parents or grandparents may have died, they are with her today at this happy occassion. 

The badkhn parodies are usually of the bazetsns, the seating, and the badekns, the veiling; two emotional moments before the marriage under the khupe/canopy. The bazetsns is strickly a women’s ceremony, except for the badkhn, and a time of much weeping. I have added below two pages from Hayyim Schauss’s work The Lifetime of a Jew (1976) in which he discusses these moments at the wedding. Schauss was a Litvak from Lithuania so much of what he describes is particularly true of his region. It is worth reading.

This is a link to a “real” badekns, not a parody, as sung by Majer Bogdanski, born 1912 in Piotrkow-Tribunalsky, Poland, from the CD Yiddish songs / Yiddishe liders:

One can also see the badkhn perform in such Yiddish films “Yidl mitn fidl” “Uncle Moses” and “The Dybbuk”. The badkhn tradition has made a comeback in today’s Hasidic world and many examples can be found on YouTube. As far as I can tell, they have become mainly comics, and do not paricipate in other wedding ceremonies.

To get a feel for the type of music that might be played at the bazetsn, here is violinist Jutta Bogen playing an example (from Pete- this one has the structue of a Romanian doina):

Many such bazetsnbadekn parodies were recorded on 78 RPMs in the 1910s- 1930s, and even later. Here is Henri Gerro’s Kolomeyer badchn. The badkhones parody begins at 1:00.  

Further reading on the badkhn:

1) Article by Joel Rosenberg “Badkhones in Life and Cinema” on the website In geveb
2) “Badkhonim” in the YIVO Encyclopedia by Jean Baumgarten.
3) Book: הבדחן (in Hebrew) by Ariela Krasney

Special thanks this week to Eliezer Niborski who transcribed the recording. 

Excerpt from Hayyim Schauss’s work The Lifetime of a Jew (1976):

“Bay dem rebn” Performed by an Unidentified Singer at the Daughters of Jacob Nursing Home

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Bay dem rebn / At the Rabbi’s House 
Unidentified singer, recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG] at the Daughters of Jacob Nursing Home, Bronx  1980s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This song begins with the Hebrew song “Hayta tsira bikineret” (There was a Young Woman at the Kinneret), which is then followed by a Yiddish verse. which then returns to the Hebrew beginning and so on and so forth. Israel’s Kinneret (also known as the Kinnereth, the Sea of Galilee and Lake Tiberius) is the world’s lowest-altitude freshwater lake.

The melody is from a Ukrainian folk song “Тече річка” “The River Flows”, which you can listen to here:

The most common version of the Yiddish verse involves a cat. However the one we present this week tells of a goat that eats up the skhakh, the sukkah covering (a sukkah or suke is the temporary structure that Jews build for the Sukkot holiday); so we felt this was an appropriate post during the current holiday of Sukkot.

Photo courtesy the Treehugger Blog

A thorough look at the origins and development of the Hebrew song including the Yiddish variants (but not this one) can be found at David Assaf’s Hebrew “Oneg Shabat” blog.

A recording of the song with the more common Yiddish verse about a kitten can be heard in the collection of recordings made by ethnomusicologists Sofia Magid and Moshe Beregovski, Unser Rebbe, unser Stalin. In that recording, singer Rakhmil Grin (1910 – 1943)  sings it for Beregovski in 1941, probably in Kiev (listen below).

Inge Mandos, a Yiddish singer from Hamburg, released a CD entitled Waks  (וואַקס, 2005) in which she re-imagines old Yiddish field recordings and includes Grin’s recording of “Bay mayn rebn iz geven a ketsle”

The Yiddish words and music to Grin’s version (the more popular version) can also be found in Undzer gezang (Bina Steinberg, ed. 1984), and are attached.

This is the first of a number of Yiddish songs that BSG recorded at the Daughters of Jacob Nursing Home in the Bronx. She was asked to edit a monthly Yiddish journal comprised of memoirs and folklore that she recorded from the elderly Jews living there. Unfortunately on the original cassette recording of this song the name of the singer was not mentioned. His Hebrew words do not match up entirely with the usual lyrics, and he makes a grammatical mistake. 

Thanks this week to Eliezer Niborski.

TRANSLITERATION (Daughters of Jacob version)

Hayta alma bakineret
asher bigalil.
Kol hayom hayta shira [!]
lanu mishirey galil.
Kol hayom hayta shira [!]
Shir akheyr hi lo yada..
hey!

Bay dem rebn hot di tsig
far hinger ofgegesn dem skhakh.
Hot di rebetsin mit der kotshere
ir gemakht di zakh. 
Tse keyver yisrul hot men zi gebrakht 
in an ofshrift hot men ir gemakht, hey…

Hayta alma….

TRANSLATION (Daughters of Jacob version)

There was a young lady at the Kinneret
that was in the Galilee.
She used to sing for us of
the songs of the Galilee.
A whole day she would sing –
no other song did she know. Hey!..

At the Rabbi’s house the goat
got hungry and ate up the skakh.
So the Rabbi’s wife with a poker
put an end to her. 
[literally: did the thing to her]
They gave her a Jewish burial
with an inscription, hey!

There was a young lady…

TRANSCRIPTION (Daughters of Jacob Version)

הָיְתָה עַלְמָה בַּכִּנֶּרֶת
,אֲשֶׁר בְּגָּלִיל
!כָּל הַיּוֹם הָיְתָה שִׁירָה
,לָנוּ מִשִּׁירֵי גָּלִיל
!כָּל הַיּוֹם הָיְתָה שִׁירָה
שִׁיר אַחֵר הִיא לֹא יָדְעָה
!היי

בײַ דעם רבין האָט די ציג
.פֿאַר הונגער אויפֿגעגעסן דעם סכך
האָט די רביצין מיט דער קאָטשערע
.איר געמאַכט די זאַך
צו קבֿר־ישׂראל האָט מען זי געבראַכט
.און אַן אויפֿשריפֿט האָט מען איר געמאַכט

…הָיְתָה עַלְמָה בַּכִּנֶּרֶת

 “Bay mayn rebn iz geven a ketsle” from Undzer gezang (Bina Steinberg, ed. 1984):

¨Me geyt shoyn tsi der khipe” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter Widman

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Me geyt shoyn tsi der khipe / They’re Already Walking to the Khupe!
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954 NYC.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Though Lifshe Schaechter Widman (LSW) introduces the song by saying it used to be sung on the way to the khupe (wedding canopy), it is a song mocking the wedding, not a part of the ceremony by any means.

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 5.10.13 PMImage of a Wedding Procession by Isaak Ashknaziy, 1893

The melody to this song was probably inspired by the klezmer tune known as the “Odesser Bulgar” found in Kammen collection “Dance Folio No.1 #18. (Thanks to Michael Alpert for pointing this out). Here is a link to the Alexandria Kleztet from the D.C. area and their version of the Odesser Bulgar:

In addition to LSW’s, two other texts to this song can be found in the Shmuel Zanvel Pipe song collection Folklore Research Centre Studies, Volume 2, Jerusalem, 1971, (edited by Meir and Dov Noy). They have been scanned and attached. The first version is in the body of the text and includes the melody. The second is in the end notes and includes different words and a second section of the melody as Meir Noy, also a Galitsyaner from Kolomyia (Yid = Kolomey) remembered it. LSW’s melody also has a second section or the begining of one.

The image of the fiddle “speaking” at the wedding (in essence warning the young couple) reminds one of the Itzik Manger poem “Der badkhn”, music by Henekh Kon.

Nor vos zogt der fidl, zog fidele zog!
¨Di sheynkayt iz sheyn, nor sheynkeyt fargeyt.¨
Azoy zogt der fidl un vos zogt di fleyt?

What does the fiddle say, tell us fiddle!”
“Beauty is nice, but beauty fades.”
So says the fiddle and what says the flute?

The only word in LSW’s version that is still not clear is “sekl” or “seke”; a word not found in the Yiddish dictionaries but “seke” does also appear in the second version in the notes of the Pipe collection. Michael Alpert suggests it could be a klezmer term for the sekund; the rhythmic and harmonic fiddle in klezmer music.

The word “opgeklogt”, pronounced by LSW as “u’geklugt” is open to interpretation, but I believe she means “good riddance, the parents have suffered enough”. In Pipe’s versions the line is “A yingl hot a meydl ongeklogt” which has a completely different meaning, but also open to interpretation.

Special thanks for helping with the blog post this week: Eliezer Niborski who transcribed LSW’s version, Michael Alpert, Josh Waletzky, Mark Slobin, Pete Rushefsky.

TRANSLITERATION AND TRANSLATION

LSW speaks: “A lid vus me fleyg zingen az me geyt tsi der khipe in Galitsye, in Bukovina.”
A song that used to be sung on the way to the khupe [marriage canopy] in Galicia and Bukovina.

[Un] Me geyt shoyn tsi der khipe, me geyt!
Me trasket un me fliasket, s’iz a freyd!
Herts nor vus der fidl zugt:
“A bukher mit a moyd u’geklugt” [opgeklugt]

[And] They’s already walking to the khupe!
People are banging and celebrating, what a joy!
Listen to what the fiddle says:
“Good riddance to the bride and groom”

Un dort der bas mit der sekl (seke?):
Niech będzie na długo i na wieki’ [Polish]

And there the bass and the sekund (fiddle)
[Polish]: May it be for long and forever.

Un aykh makhuteyniste – git-morgn!
Ir hot shoyn frishe zorgn:
Me bayt di rayneshlekh af kronen.
Me zikht a voynung vi tse voynen.

And you my mother-in-law – good morning!
You have fresh worries:
You have to exchange the Rhenish for Kronen [currency]
and find a place to live.

REPEAT FIRST VERSE

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 3.47.42 PM

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 3.47.59 PM

Instrumental klezmer version of the melody  found in J. & J. Kammenś collection Dance Folio No.1, #18:

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 4.03.18 PM

Version found in Shmuel Zanvel Pipeś song collection Folklore Research Centre Studies, Volme 2, Jerusalem, 1971, (edited by Meir and Dov Noy):

Screenshot 2020-08-14 at 4.04.06 PMScreenshot 2020-08-14 at 4.04.26 PM

“Of di grine felder/Dos fertsnte yor” – Two Performances

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Of di grine felder/Dos fertsnte yor / On the green fields/The Year 1914

This week we are presenting two performances of this song:

1) Sara Nomberg-Przytyk (recorded by Wolf Krakowski, Way’s Mills, Quebec, Canada, 1986):

2) Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG), Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) and Jonas Gottesman (recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx, 1954):

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

Though we have chosen to feature two versions of the song that begin “Of di grine felder, velder”, the song is also commonly known as “Dos 14te yor” with variants that begin with “Dos 14te yor is ongekumen, oy vey” (“The 14th Year Has Arrived”). Among the singers who have recorded versions of this song: Sidor Belarsky, Majer Bogdanski, Leibu Levin and more recently Michael Alpert, “Psoy and the Israelifts” and Lorin Sklamberg/ Susan McKeown.

Michael Alpert’s a capella version of the song can be heard here. Plus, below is a contemporary interpretation of the song by Psoy and the Israelifts titled “1914” found on YouTube:

In YIVO’s Ruth Rubin’s Archive there are field recordings by Martn Birnbaum, Chinke Asher and Hannah Rosenberg. In the volume Old Jewish Folk Music: The Collections and Writings of Moshe Beregovsky (Mark Slobin, U. Pennsylvania Press, 1982; Syracuse University Press, 2000) there are 7 versions with melodies!

The song became very popular over a wide area of Eastern Europe during and after the first world war. So popular that it was recalled with amusement in a chapter in B. Kuczerer’s [קוטשער] Yiddish memoirs of Warsaw Geven a mol varshe, (Paris, 1955). He begins the chapter on the 1914 German occupation of Warsaw in this way:

“The 14th year has arrived – oy vey!

And soon it [the song] enveloped everyone and everything as if by magic… Day and night. Wherever you go, wherever you stand. In every street, in every courtyard, in every corner.

Who sang it loudly to arouse pity. Who sang it quietly, for oneself, to get it off your chest. And everywhere the same song. Everywhere the same melody, the same moan, the same tears.

‘The 14th year has arrived – oy vey!'”  (p. 59)

But some versions of the song are about later years. In the Sofia Magid collection Unser Rebbe, unser Stalin, Basya Fayler sings about the “Dos akhtsnte yor” (“The18th year” p. 277 – 79). The linguist Prof. Moshe Taube remembers his father singing this song about “Dos 19te yor” referring to the Polish violence against Jews at that time (oral communication).

THE UKRAINIAN CONNECTION

This song can ultimately can be traced back to a Ukrainian song of the 1830s. In a review of a lecture by the Polish folklorist Jan Byston written by Max Weinreich, published in Yidishe filologye heft. 2/3, March-June, 1924, Weinreich refers to the first publication of this Yiddish song in the periodical Der Jude (n.1-2, April-May 1917 p. 123-124) in which the collector Anshl (Anselm) Kleynman remembers how in the trenches of 1914-1915 some Ukrainian soldiers sang their version, and Jewish soldiers heard it, translated it and it spread from there. In this lecture that Weinreich attended, Bystron pointed out that the song in Ukrainian was sung as far back as 1833.

Prof. Robert Rothstein found two versions of the Ukrainian song from 1834. He writes: “One stanza was found among Aleksander Pushkin’s papers, written on the back of a letter from Nikolai Gogol. Pushkin died in 1837.” He adds “It’s also known as Чорна рілля ізорана (Chorna rillia izorana – The Black Farm Field Has Been Dug Up). The reference is to the chornozem, the rich black soil of Ukraine.” [communication via email]

Inspired by the song, the Polish folk/death metal band Kryvoda uses a stark image of a crow on a dead soldier for their 2014 album entitled “Kruki”. Below you can hear their performance of Чорна рілля [“Chorna rillia”]:

The website “Yidlid.org” has written out a long version of the words in Yiddish, transliterated Yiddish, French and English and included the melody from Belarsky’s book

Longer versions can also be found in Shloyme Bastomski’s Yiddish folksong collection Baym kval pages 132-133 and Immanuel Olsvanger’s Rosinkess mit mandlen, 1920, pp. 259-261.

A note on the LSW/BSG version of “Oyf di grine felder, velder”: This is the only recording I have found which features my father, Jonas Gottesman (1914 – 1995), a physician born in Siret, Romania, singing along with Lifshe, his mother-in-law, and wife Beyle. He was a wonderful baritone singer and was the only one in the family who could harmonize, as can be heard on this recording.

Special thanks with help for this post to Wolf Krakowsky, Eliezer Niborski and Prof. Robert Rothstein.

TRANSLITERATION OF NOMBERG-PRZYTYK’s VERSION (Translation is on the video)

Of di grine felder un velder, oy vay, oy vay.
Of di grine felder un velder
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay

Shvartse foygl kimen tsi flien oy vay, oy vay.
kumt tsu flien a shvartser foygl
un dlubet im oys di bayde oygn, oy vay, oy vay
dlubet im oys di bayde oygn, oy vay, oy vay.

Ver vet nukh im kadish zugn oy vay, oy vay
Ver vet nukh im kadish zugn?
Ver vet nukh im vaynen un klugn oy vay, oy vay
Ver vet nukh im vaynen un klugn oy vay, oy vay

Of di grine felder un velder, oy vay, oy vay.
Of di grine felder un velder
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner oy vay, oy vay

TRANSLITERATION and TRANSLATION OF LSW/BSG/JG VERSION

Of di grine, felder velder, vey, vey
Of di grine, felder velder,
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner, vey, vey,
ligt mit koyln badekt a zelner, vey, vey.

On the green fields, woods, vey, vey!
On the green fields, woods
Lays covered with bullets a soldier, vey, vey
Lays covered with bullets a soldier, vey, vey

Kim tse flien shvartser foygl, vey, vey
kim tse flien shvartser foygl,
dzhibet oys bay im di oygn, oy vey.
dzhibet oys bay im di oygn, vey, vey.

Come fly here black bird, vey, vey
Come fly black bird
and peck his eyes out, vey, vey.
and peck his eyes out, vey, vey.

Sheyner foygl, shvartse vorone vey, vey
Sheyner foygl, shvartse vorona,
fli avek tsi mayn mame, vey vey,
fli avek tsi mayn mame, vey vey.

Black bird, black crow, vey, vey
Black bird, black crow
fly away to my mother, vey, vey.
fly away to my mother, vey, vey.

Zolst ir fin mayn toyt nisht zugn, vey, vey,
zolst ir fin mayn toyt nisht zugn,
anit vet zi nit oyfhern klugn vey, vey.
anit vet zi nit oyfhern klugn vey, vey.

Do not tell her of my death, vey vey
Do not tell her of my death
for she will cry and lament, vey, vey
for she will cry and lament, vey, vey.

Ver vet nukh mir veynen in klugn vey, vey
ver vet nukh mir veynen in klugn,
ver vet nukh mir kadish zugn? vey, vey.
ver vet nukh mir kadish zugn? vey, vey

Who will cry and lament for me? vey, vey
Who will cry and lament for me?
Who will say Kaddish for me? vey, vey.
Who will say Kaddish for me? vey, vey.

Nor dus ferdl, dus getraye, vey, vey
nur dus ferdl dus getraye
vet nukhgeyn nukh mayn levaye, vey, vey.
vet nukhgeyn nukh mayn levaye, vey, vey.

Only my faithful horse, vey, vey.
Only my faithful horse
Will follow at my funeral, vey, vey.
Will follow at my funeral, vey, vey.

TRANSCRIPTION OF NOMBERG-PRZYTYK’s VERSION:

nomberg 1914

TRANSCRIPTION OF LSW/BSG/JG’s VERSION:

LSW 1914 1LSW 1914 2

“Der vanderer: Geboyrn bin ikh in tsores un in leydn” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2020 by yiddishsong

Der vanderer: Geboyrn bin ikh in tsores un in leydn /
The Wanderer:
I was born with troubles and suffering
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW), recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman follows the transcription and translation.


TRANSLITERATION / TRANSLATION

Geboyrn bin ikh in tsures in in leydn
in troyer in in yumer in in klug.
Fartribn bin ekh fin ale mayne freydn.
S’mir nisht lib kayn eyntsiker tug. 

I was born with troubles and suffering,
in sorrow and with tears and misfortune.
I’ve been driven away from all my joys:
Not one day of enjoyment have I had. 

Dus imglik traybt mekh arim iberal.
Es geyt mir oft mayn leybn oys.
Vus fara tug ze ikh in ayn argern fal.
Di hofenung – dus iz mayn malekh-hamus.

Bad luck has driven me everywhere;
Often has my life nearly ended
With each passing day I see something worse.
Hope has become my angel of death.

RefraIn:

Benken, benk ikh nukh mayn heymat shtark
Dortn shteyt mayn vigele, mayn rakh.
Vi lang ken ikh nokh zayn in na-venad.

Refrain:

I long so much for my home.
There is my crib, my realm.
How long can I still wander around?

Oy, di zin, di shants zeyer lib,
Dan sheynkeyt dayn lekht iz a prakht.
Nor mir eyner shantsti nebekh, trib.
ven bay dir iz tug, iz bay mir nakht. 

O, the sun, you shine with great pleasure.
Your beauty, your light is a splendor.
But for just me  your shine is gloomy.
When it is day for you, for me it is night. 

Di derkvikst ayeydn mit dayn frimorgn,
mit shpatsirn, luft in gezint.
Nor mekh eyner derkviksti mit zorgn.
Vayl ekh bin urem, a farvuglt kind.

You delight everyone with your morning,
with walks, air and health.
But for me alone, you “delight” with worries,
for I am poor, a homeless child.

Derkh der hofnung lad ekh nebekh noyt.
Fin alem bestn makht zi mekh umbikant.
Filaykht ervartert meykh der toyt,
Vil ikh shtarbn in man futerland.

On account of hope I suffer hardship.
It has made the best things unknown to me.
Maybe death awaits me,
so I want to die in my fatherland. 

Vayl benkn, benk ikh nukh mayn haymat shtark
Dortn shteyt mayn vigele, mayn rakh.
Vi lang ken ikh nokh zayn in na-venad?
Na-vad.

{Refrain}

I long so much for my home.
There is my crib, my realm.
How long can I still wander around?
Wander around.

The Germanisms in this song can only mean one thing – “Galicia”.  The Jews who lived in Austria-Hungarian Galicia before WWI and in its sister territory Bukovina, where singer Lifshe Schaechter Widman (LSW) was from, were fluent in German, sang German songs, and had no problem with German words in their Yiddish. A Yiddish writer I often associate with Galicia, Fradl Shtok (from Brody?), mentions this song in her story “Komediantn” (Gezamlte dertseylungen, 1919, p. 57.)  There, a street performer sings and plays on the flute – “Benken, benk ikh nokh mayn heymat…”. Unfortunately, she ends the song there.

Chagall-Over-Vitebsk-GettyImages-CROPPED-1843825-5aad718ea474be0019b9d26e (1)“Over Vitebsk” by Marc Chagall, 1914

A printed version of this song, sung by Z. Goldstein, text and music, appears in Shloyme Prizament’s book Broder zinger (pages 163 – 164) with the same title that LSW uses to introduce the song “Der vanderer”. Other than the refrain, the words and music are quite different. The fact that both Goldstein and LSW call it with the same title, “The Wanderer”, indicates, in my opinion, that it is from a play or, more likely, a popular Broder zinger tavern performance (for a recent article on Broder zinger see the article “Broder Singers: Forerunners of the Yiddish Theater” by Amanda [Miryem-Khaye] Seigel).

The song became a beggar’s song at some point. In volume 8, #22 in the CD series Historical Collection of Jewish Musical Folklore 1912 – 1947 produced by the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, Kiev,  the singer Yeshaya Khazan, recorded in 1939, sings a similar version to LSW. Khazan refers to this as a beggar song and his emotional performance, punctuated with “oy veys!” bears this out.

A longer printed version of the song, and one that is closest to LSW’s version, can be found in the collection of folk poetry Zeks yidishe folks lider (Six Yiddish folks songs) by  L. M. Graboys (or Groboys), Kishinev, 1900.

zeks cover

Here the song is entitled “Benken benk ikh”. Though the author implies that he is the author of all the songs in the collection, this is doubtful. The first song “Der bal-dover mit dem khoyle”  [the devil and the sick one] is a long version of the old ballad “Der lomp vert farloshn”, (listen to LSW’s version of this on Yiddish Song of the Week posted in 2011) which Graboys/Groboys certainly did not write. 

One word gave me particular trouble in this song. In the refrain, all of the sources except LSW sing “Dortn iz  mayn vigele, mayn rekht”. What is meant by “rekht” in this context? I have heard many suggestions: birthright, citizenship, rights, among them. All are possible, though I have never heard “rekht” used that way with this syntax. LSW sings a different word which I hear as “raykh” (“reich” in German) and translate as “realm”.

During the short discussion after the song between collector Leybl Kahn and LSW, she clarifies that it is not a Zionist song. 

Special thanks this week to Eliezer Niborski.

vanderer1vanderer2

“Di velt iz meshige” Performed by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2020 by yiddishsong

Di velt iz meshige/The World Has Gone Mad
Sung by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk [pronounced “Pshitik”]
Recorded with English subtitles by Wolf Krakowski, Way’s Mills, Quebec, Canada, 1986

 

Information on the song and Yiddish transcription provided by Eliezer Niborski, Jerusalem:

This seems to be a transformation of a song that was popular in the Lemberg/Lviv area in the 1910s. There is a 78rpm recording of Pepe Litman singing this song that you can hear here by clicking here.  There are at least two other 78rpm recordings of the song with this title, one by N. Glimer from Lemberg and one by Sam Schilling. 

Gilmer (1)78 Recording “Die Welt is Meschuge” by N. Gilmer recorded in Lemberg (Lviv) (Favorite, 1-27132X)

The same song, but titled “Meshige ist die welt” is sung by Julius Kalisch (1909) (Lemberg/Lviv) and can be heard by clicking here.

All three singers of these 78rpm recordings are basically using the same text and arrangement. In Sara Nomberg-Prztyk’s version, however, the content is adapted to the theme “modern women”. 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

Thanks to Sara Nomberg-Przytyk’s introduction to the song in which she tells us her grandmother sang it with no sarcasm, but meant it literally, we can add her “Di velt iz meshige” to a number of songs using irony to mock the old-fashioned Jewish way of life or to make fun of the Hasidic rebbe and his Hasidim.

 In some interpretations of these songs, the irony was indeed often “lost” to the singer. But, of course, Sara, the more modern granddaughter did indeed “get it”. The naive narrator of the song in Nomberg-Przytyk’s version decries modern Jewish society, women in particular, with their “reading books”,  going to spas, and wearing their own hair and new immodest fashions. By “suffragettes”, the singer clearly just means “modern women”.

The video came with a translation and is mostly accurate. However as Niborski points out, when she sings “furn di kur”, this is shorthand for “furn af der kur” — going to spas, resorts.

Thanks for help with this week’s post to discographer Michael Aylward and Eliezer Niborski.

TRANSCRIPTION 

SPOKEN: Di lid vus ikh vil  atsind zingen iz zayer an alt lid. Zi iz antshtanen in di tsatn fin di sufrazhistkes. In dus iz geveyzn di yidishe sufrazhistkes. Ikh mayn az der vos hot geshribn di lid hot zi geshribn als a “joke”. R’hot gelakht derfin. Ober mayn bube hot es gezugt ernst. Zi hot es traktirt zeyer ernst.

SUNG:

Gevald vel ikh shrayen,
me zol hern, me zol hern!
Tsi hot zikh nokh azoyns gehert?
Dus yidishkayt vil du zikh iberkern, Oy-vay!
S’nemt mikh on a groys gevayn.

Zay furn “di kur”. 
Zay gayen in di hur.
Zay laynen bikher un a tsul.
Fin groys biz klayn,
zey makhn khayn,
un redn ale inter der nuz.

A mol hot men gefirt di kale tsu der khipe,
hot men ir ungetin di bubes a yipe.
Haynt geyen zey mit di naketdike paskudstves un – tfuuuu!
Zey hobn a punim vi a klipe.
Derfar haltn zey ober di hern far klige.
Ober ikh shray “Gevald!”
Di velt iz meshige!
Screenshot 2020-06-04 at 1.40.17 PMScreenshot 2020-06-04 at 1.40.38 PM

“Der vasermentsh” Performed by Sara Nomberg-Prztyk

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2020 by yiddishsong

Der vasermentsh / The Waterman
Sung by Sara Nomberg-Prztyk, recorded by Wolf Krakowski at Way’s Mills, Quebec, Canada 1986

Information on this song and Yiddish text contributed by Eliezer Niborski, Jerusalem:

“Der vasermentsh” is a Yiddish version of German composer Robert Schumann’s (1810 – 1856) composition. The original German text is entitled – “Der Wasserman” – written by the German poet Justinus Kerner (1786 – 1862.) The translation is probably the one Peysekh Kaplan (1870 – 1943) published in the weekly Hayntige tsayt, Bialystok, 1914. Click here for a  link to a performance of the original German composition.

Screenshot 2020-05-28 at 2.51.45 PMKlezmob – the contemporary klezmorim of Tübingen, the setting of Kerner’s original text

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

This creepy gothic Romantic-era song will perhaps follow the fate of Zalmen Scheour’s song “Margaritklekh” which is unsingable today because of its disturbing treatment of women at the hands of men. Demons and spirits in the water are part of international folklore, though usually it is a female demon, such as the Slavic Rusalka.

It is interesting that the Vilbig choir conductor in Vilna, Avrom Sliep, chose works with German/Austrian classical musical pedigree: last week  “Farges dem tsar” with Strauss ll music and this week with Robert Schumann’s music.

What follows is a transcription of the Yiddish the way Sara Nomberg-Prztyk sings it and then the text in Yiddish submitted by Eliezer Niborski. The English translation by Wolf Krakowski is included on the video. Finally, we have included the original German poem by Kerner.

Der vasermentsh (transliteration):

Spoken introduction by Sara Nomberg-Prztyk: Der vasermentsh iz a lid fun repertoir fun Vilner, a Vilner khor, ver hot gehat hindert mitglider der khor. “Der vasermentsh” iz, glayb ikh, nisht kayn…ikh vays nisht fin vanen s’iz antshtanen di lid, vayl s’iz nisht keyn traditsye fun di yidishe geshikhte, fin di yidishe dertseylungen. Kh’ob dus ershte mul zikh getrofn mit deym Vasermentsh. Ober s’iz zeyer a sheyne lid un ikh vil zi du far aykh forshteln. Kho’ zi oykh nisht gehert nukh deym vi me zol zi zingen.

A mol in a zumertog sphetlekh bay nakht,
di zun geyt shoyn unter,  natur shteyt fartrakht.
Farklaybn zikh meydlekh hinter der shtot,
un zingen un tantsn in eyn karahod.

Kumt plutsling a bokherl oysgeputst fayn,
di tentserkes zet er, klaybt eyne oyx glaykh,
geyt tsu un tut on ir a grininkn krants,
nemt ir georemt, un firt ir tsum tants.

– Bokher, zog, vos yogt fun dir a kelt?
– in tifn vaser iz a kalte velt.
– hey, bokher, zog, vos bistu azoy blas?
– In tifn vaser iz dokh kalt un nas.

Er tansts mit ir, un firt ir in a zayt.
– Hey, bokher, loz! es past dokh nisht far layt!
Er tantst mit ir tsum vaser tsu.
– Hey, bokher, zog, vuhin geystu?

Er nemt arum ir shlankn layb:
– Mayn kind, du bist dem vasermentshns vayb.
Er nemt un er tantst in vaser arayn.
– Hey, bokher, vos tustu? mayn mame mayn!

Er firt ir tsum palats fun reynem krishtol.
– Adye mayn velt, tsum letstn mol,
Adye, adye…

Screenshot 2020-05-28 at 2.39.17 PM

Screenshot 2020-05-28 at 2.41.14 PM

Der Wassermann (original German):

Es war in des Maien [mildem]1 Glanz,
Da hielten die [Jungfern]2 von Tübingen Tanz.

Sie tanzten und tanzten wohl allzumal
Um eine Linde im grünen Tal.

Ein fremder Jüngling, [in stolzem]3 Kleid,
Sich [wandte]4 [bald]5 zu der schönsten Maid;

Er [reicht ihr dar die Hände]6 zum Tanz,
[Er]7 setzt ihr auf’s Haar einen meergrünen Kranz.

“O Jüngling! warum ist so kalt dein Arm?”
“In Neckars Tiefen da ist’s nicht warm.”

“O Jüngling! warum ist so bleich deine Hand?”
“Ins Wasser dringt nicht der Sonne Brand!”

Er [tanzt]8 mit ihr von der Linde weit:
“Lass’, Jüngling! horch, die Mutter [mir]9 schreit!”

Er [tanzt]10 mit ihr den Neckar entlang:
“Lass’, Jüngling! weh! mir wird so bang!”

Er fasst sie fest um den schlanken Leib:
“Schön’ Maid, du bist des Wassermann’s Weib!”

Er [tanzt]10 mit ihr in die Wellen hinein:
“O Vater und du, o Mutter mein!”

Er führt sie in [seinen]11 krystallenen Saal:
“Ade, ihr Schwestern [allzumal]

The Waterman (translation of the German text):

Once in the mild brightness of May,
The young maidens of Tübingen had a dance.

They danced and danced all together
About a lime tree in the green valley.

A stranger, a lad in a proud garment,
Soon attached himself to the most beautiful maiden;

He stretched out his hands to lead her into the dance,
He placed a sea-green wreath upon her hair.

“Oh young man, why are your arms so cold?”
“In the depths of the Neckar (river) it is not warm.”

“Oh young man, why are your hands so pale?”
“The burning rays of the sun do not penetrate into the water.”

He dances away with her, far from the lime tree:
“Stop, young man!  Listen, my mother is calling me!”

He dances away with her along the banks of the Neckar (River):
“Stop, young man!  Woe, I am becoming so frightened!”

He seizes her tightly about her slender body:
“Lovely maiden, you are the waterman’s bride!”

He dances away with her right into the waves:
“Oh father, and you, oh mother mine!”

He leads her into his crystal hall:
“Adieu, to you, my sisters all!”