Archive for food

Two Songs from the Strassenhof Labor Camp by Masha Rolnik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman, Ph.D.

Sadly, as we were preparing this blog entry the Yiddish writer Masha Rolnik (Mascha Rolnikaite) passed away at age 89 in St. Petersburg, on April 7th, 2016. Her Yiddish diary of her experiences during the Holocaust, written as a teenager is entitled Ikh muz dertseyln (I Must Tell). It is considered one of the most important day-by-day descriptions of the Vilna ghetto.

Rolnik

Masha Rolnik

We thank Michael Lukin, researcher and curator of Yiddish song at the Jewish Music Research Centre in Jerusalem for submitting the recording, which he made in St. Petersburg, Russia, November 27, 2013.

In this Yiddish Song of the Week entry we are including a 10 minute unedited recording in which she sings two Yiddish songs written while in a labor camp during the second world war. She then talks about her life during the war. We have translated her introductory spoken remarks and the two songs, as well as transliterations of them.

The two songs that she sings, Der Shtrasenhofer hymn and Sport can be found in Shmerke Kaczerginski’s collection Lider in di getos un lagern (Congress for Jewish Culture, NY, 1948) (pages 228 – 229 and pages 224 – 225). There the author of the songs is listed as “unknown” but from this recording we are made aware that Rolnik wrote the words and apparently borrowed the melody from other songs.

We are attaching scans of the songs in Yiddish from the Kaczerginski collection. Since Rolnik’s versions of the songs vary only slightly from the printed versions, and, in fact, she is singing them from Kaczerginski’s book, we have only provided the Yiddish versions as found in that collection. The music to the Hymn is also found in the Kaczerginski collection and we have included a scan of that as well.

In the Kaczerginski collection, both songs were sung to the collector by Sarah Kogan from Vilna, and her performance of the Hymn can be heard in the Ben Stonehill collection. Also in the Stonehill collection you can hear Kaczerginski himself singing the Strassenhofer Hymn.

There are many websites to find out more about Rolnik’s life, and one can begin with her Wikipedia page. There is a Yad Vashem page on her father, Hirsh Rolnik, who was separated from the family at the beginning of the war. The Yad Vashem website additionally has information on the Strassenhof camp located near Vienna, where almost all the inmates survived.

Masha Rolnik speaks: “Sunday, we worked half a day, so during the second half we were free. That Jews should be free – they could not accept that notion. So we had to march in the camp singing a song that they provided. The song is called ‘We were the masters of the world; now we are’ – you’ll pardon me – ‘the lice of the world.’ I could not accept that. Where I got the melody I don’t know: I am no composer. It was in my head.

SONG 1: DI SHTRASENHOFER HYMN
lyrics: Masha Rolnik, music: unknown

1
Mir zaynen di shtrasenhofer yidn,
Dos “naye eyrope” boyen mir.
Di arbet, vos mir hobn – iz farshidn.
Ober tsores hobn mir on a shir.

REFRAIN:

Akh, shtrasenhof, oy biz tsum haldz bistu mir!
Akh, shtrasenhof, vi vert men poter shoyn fun dir?
Akh, shtrasenhof, ven vet shoyn kumen di tsayt,
un mir veln vider zayn bafrayt?

2
Mitn esn iz do zeyer biter –
Di zup, zi iz epes modne blo,
un dertsu – iz zi azoy shiter
vayl kartofl far undz iz nokh nito.

REFRAIN
3
Di fabrikn-luft bakumt undz nit tsum gutn,
dos veysn mir ale gants genoy.
Es zol beser tsirkulirn undzere blutn,
shikt men zuntik undz afn barakn-boy.

REFRAIN
4
Nor derfun ken men oykh nokh nit shtarbn –
dos meynt men mit undz gornit shlekht;
Mir viln krign in di bakn royte farbn –
Do iz der lager-elterer “gerekht”.

REFRAIN
5
Mit der derloybenish fun eltern fun lager
vert yedn zuntik ovnt muzitsirt,
un loytn bafel fun eltern: oy a shlager,
vert yedn zuntik morgn eksertsirt.

REFRAIN
6
Es muz vern marshirt un gezungen!
Ir tort nit zayn shtayf, vi a bret!
Ir muzst hobn gezunte lungen,
oyb ir vet amol farlozn dem katset!…

1
We are the Shrassenhofer Jews,
We are building the “New Europe”
The work that we do is varied,
But sorrows we have without end.

REFRAIN

Akh, Strassenhof, I am up to my throat with you,
Akh, Strassenhof, how can I get rid of you?
Akh Strassenhof, when will the time return
And we will once more be free?

2
Concerning the food here, it’s very bitter –
The soup, its strangely blue.
In addition – it’s so thin
Because there are no potatos here for us.

REFRAIN
3
The factory air makes us sick.
We all know this too well.
In order for our blood to circulate better
We are sent on Sunday to build barracks.

REFRAIN
4
But yet from this one cannot die –
They have no evil designs on us.
We will get red colors in our cheeks.
The camp elder is right about that.

REFRAIN
5
With the permission of the elders in the camp
Every Sunday we make music.
Following the order of the elders: Oh, a hit song!
Should get exercised every Sunday morning.

REFRAIN
6
We must march and sing!
You cannot be stiff as a board!
You must have healthy lungs,
If you ever want to leave this camp.

REFRAIN

SONG 2: SPORT
words: Masha Rolnik music: unknown

In Strasenhofer lager
derfunden hot men dort
far groys un kleyn,
far yung un alt –
a naye mode – sport.
Ver s’hot dem apel farshlofn,
Ver in nore farzamt zikh hot –
krigt glaykh nokhn apel
dem nayem sport-kompot

REFRAIN:
Oy, Shtrasenhof, farvos zog, Shtrasenhof,
Ikh freg dikh, Shtrasenhof, du veyst gevis.
Der sport iz grod nit shlekht, dos bistu yo gerekht
nor farvos shmartsn nokhdem azoy di fis?

Tsu morgns in fabrik gekumen,
dershlept zikh got-tsu-dank.
Dan nemt a yede brumen:
“Oy, vi bin ikh haynt krank”.
Eyne ken zikh nit rirn,
di tsveyte ken nit geyn,
di drite muz men firn,
di ferte ken nit shteyn.

Refrain – Oy Strasenhof….

Tsu peysekh git men undz
a geshenk gor fayn un shnel:
dray a zeyger ofshteyn
un fir in der apel.
Un Lides shtime hert men
“Ver vil nokh shlofn dort?
Tsi den hot ir fargesn
az ir muzst haynt makhn sport?”

REFRAIN

Mit sport muzn mir oyfshteyn,
mit sport shlofn mir ayn,
sport ahin tui sport aher
Gevald! Ikh ken nit mer!

In Strassenhof camp
They discovered
For big and small,
For young and old –
A new fad – sport.
Whoever slept past the “Apel” [line-up]
Whoever in her corner came late –
The new sport-pudding.

REFRAIN:
Oy Strassenhof, why, tell me, Strassenhof
I ask you Strassenhof; you know for sure.
The sport is actually not bad, in this you are right.
But why afterwards do my legs hurt so much?

Next day I came to the factory
I barely made it, thank God.
Then everyone starts to complain:
“Oy how sick I am today”.
One cannot move.
The other cannot walk.
The third one must be helped,
The fourth cannot stand.

REFRAIN

For Passover they give us
A gift, real fine and fast;
Three o’oclock wake up
And by four at the Appel.
And Lide’s voice can be heard.
Who wants to sleep some more over there,
Did you forget
That you have to do sport today?!

REFRAIN

With sport we must wake up.
With sport we fall asleep.
Sport here, sport there,
Help! I can’t anymore.rolnik intro

strasenhof1
strasenhof2.JPG
strasenhof3
sport1sport2

 

“Der zeyde mit der babe” Performed by Beyle Schaechter Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2015 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

My mother Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG) could not remember from whom she learned this song, but it she learned it in Chernovitz in the 1930s. I had assumed it was either the creation of the humorist Shamshon  (Shamshele) Fersht or from the Chernovitz amateur Yiddish theater group Kamelyon directed by Simkhe Schwartz, but I can not yet find it listed anywhere. BSG also sang Fersht’s version/parody of Gebirtig’s Kinder yorn, and that can be found in Emil Seculetz’s collection Yidishe folkslider. She learned a number of Kamelyon‘s musical numbers which will be added to this blog at some point. The theatricality of this song leads me to suspect that it might have been created and performed by Kamelyon.

3Beyle and Cousin Sime

Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (standing) with her cousin Sima. Chernovitz 1930s.

I have posted this song, which I recorded from her in the Bronx around 2009, on the occasion of BSG’s second yortsayt, the second day of khanike. In BSG’s dialect, the word for grandmother is  pronounced “babe” not “bobe”.

Der zeyde mit der babe is sort of an irreverent parody of Mark Warshavsky’s Akhtsik er un zibetsik zi but without the refrain. (Listen to BSG’s live version of Warshavsky’s song on her CD of songs she learned in Chernovitz – Bay mayn mames shtibele).

Der zeyde mit der babe, a leybn af zey.
A brukhe af zeyere keplekh.
Der zeyde khlepshtet fun der flash.
Di mame [babe] fun di teplekh.

Leberlekh un pipkelekh, vi oykh pitse.
Alding iz a maykhl.
Der zeyde glet di vontsyelekh.
Di babe glet dos baykhl.

Eydele, oy Eydele, tayere moyd,
zug zhe nor dem zeydn –
Veymen hosti tokhtershe
libersht fin indz beydn?

Indzer tayere skheyne Brane hot a kats
hot zi ketselekh kleyne.
Dus vayse ketsele mir geshenkt,
hob ikh lib di skheyne.

In oykh di Surtse, Sortse kroyn,
dem zeydns tayere meydn;
Veymen vilsti geybn a kish –
der baben tsi deym zeydn?

Mit Yankl didl-dudl un mit Yoselen
shpiln mir tate-mame beyde.
Iz Eydele di mame, di babe bin ikh,
kish ikh Yoselen dem zeydn.

Aza khtsife, aza shkuts –
dus vet men dertseyln der mamen.
A zeydn mit a baben hot men lib –
nisht di ketselekh fin Branen.

Aza hultayke, loz, shoyn loz.
dus vet men dertseyln dem tatn.
A zeydn un a baben git men a kish.
Nisht a Yosele piskatn.

Zeydishe un babeshi dertseylt, dertseylt.
Der mamen in dem tatn.
Zey meygn indz (un)shlugn* vi a pok.
S’vet indz gurnisht shatn.

Grandpa and grandma, may they be well,
a blessing on their heads.
Grandpa guzzles from the bottle,
Grandma [eats] from the pots.

Livers and gizzards, and calves foot jelly,
Everything is a dish.
Grandpa strokes his mustache,
Grandma rubs her belly.

Eydele, oy Eydele our dear girl,
tell your grandpa –
whom do you, daughter,
prefer of us two?

Our dear neighbor has a cat
and she has small kittens.
The white kitten was given to me as a gift,
so I like our neighbor.

And also you Surtse, dear Surtse
Grandpa’s beloved girl.
Whom do you want to kiss
Grandma or grandpa?

With Yankl Didl-Dudl and with Yosele;
We both play “father and mother”.
Eydele plays the mother, and I the grandma –
So I kiss Yosele the grandpa.

Such an impudent girl, such a prankster –
We will tell you mother.
You should love your grandpa and grandma
not the kittens of Brane.

Such a libertine, just wait and see;
we will tell your father.
You should give grandpa and grandma a kiss.
Not that mouthy Yosele.

Go ahead and tell, grandpa and grandma
our mother and father.
Even if they beat us like a drum.
It won’t bother us a bit.

*After singing the song, the singer commented that “unshlugn” would be better than “shlugn”.

zeydebobeYIDrevised-1zeydebobeYIDrevised-2

“Kimt der shadkhn Shame” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

Ordinarily, I would not include such a fragmentary performance in this blog, as this version of Kimt der shadkhn Shame (the name “Shame” is pronounced with two syllables “Sha-me,” rhymes with “mame”) performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW). But the investigation into the song is intriguing. I broadcast an earlier version of this research in Yiddish on the Yiddish Forward Radio Hour on WEVD seven or eight years ago. My commentary here will also be abbreviated.

At a yard sale in Monticello, NY, the heart of the Jewish Catskills, I bought several old Yiddish 78s including one with two songs by Leon Kalisch recorded in Lemberg 1905-06. Kalisch was part of the Lemberg Yiddish theater world revolving around „Gimpel‘s Teater‟ (see: Gimpel‘s grandson‘s website; Michael Aylwards forthcoming article on Gimpel‘s theater and Jewish recordings in Lemberg on his website; and the entry on Kalisch and Gimpel in the Yiddish theater Lexicon).

Leon Kalisch

Additionally, Kalisch‘s songs and other Lemberg Yiddish singers are featured on Gerda and Franz Lechleitner‘s „phonomuseum‟ website. When I heard Kalisch sing „Der schames‟ I immediately recognized LSW‘s song:

 The 78 record label indicated that Der schames originated from the Yosef Lateiner (1853-1935) play Der seder, and I fortunately was able to buy a copy but did not find the song in the text. I donated the 78s I bought at the yard sale to Lorin Sklamberg at the YIVO sound archives and he transferred them to CD for me and he turned me onto other recordings with what I call the „Lena From Palesteena‟ melody-motif. By this I mean the melody of the phrase “Lena is the Queen of Palesteena just because she plays the concertina.”

The popular 1920s song „Lena from Palesteena” was written by Con Conrad and J. Russel Robinson, and first recorded with words by Eddie Cantor in 1920. Here is a great old version by Frank Crumit:

On page 81 of his book Klezmer! Jewish Music from Old World to Our World, Henry Sapoznik connects the melody to the klemzer tune Noch A bisl played here by accordionist Mishka Ziganoff in 1921. 

Lorin Sklamberg identified the Romanian language recording Colo’n Gradnita (There in the Little Garden) performed by S. Bernardo, no date, recorded in Bucharest, with only piano accompaniment. Bernardo is a great singer, obviously Jewish and includes “Oy veys” and some other Yiddish words:

Sklamberg also found a recording of a young Aaron Lebedeff singing the song Tate ziser (Syrena 12560) recorded in Europe (Warsaw?), no date but probably the late 1910s, (and no relation to the klezmer tune by that name recorded by several bands). Lebedeff is clearly riffing off Bernardo’s earlier recording:

Finally, Sklamberg dug up Simon Paskal’s Eppess noch, with words by Louis Gilrod, recorded in New York, 1913 – A typical comical Yiddish theater song about American Jewish life, with emphasis on food (Noch a bisl, Eppess noch – there seems to be a theme emerging).

There is much more to write about the musical reincarnations of the „Lena from Palesteena‟ motif, and I believe Prof. Martin Schwartz of Berkeley and others can play Greek, Turkish and other people‘s variants of this motif on recordings. It seems to be assumed that the Yiddish use of it came after the Romanian, but the Kalisch recording is the earliest I have found.

Back to LSW‘s song and its connection to Der Schames as sung by Kalisch. The rare rhyme „brie‟ and „Ishes tsnie‟ appears in both, so they are definitely related. Kalisch is about a shames (synagogue beadle); LSW‘s about a shadkhn named Shame. So the two lead characters are also too closely related phonetically to dismiss the notion the songs are from a single source. However, the narratives of the songs differ: LSW‘s Kimt der Shadkhn Shame is ultimately a maskilic song about the Hasidic rebbe, the “Datshn‟ (Germans – modernized Jews) and the „apikorsim,‟ the non-believers; while Kalisch‘s Der shames is clearly a theater song closely related to a play’s plot. In the song collection Der badkhn by (E)Luzer Bergman, Warsaw 1927, 1930, there is included a version that is obviously a variant of LSWs song, including the line about the „apikorsim.‟

LSW’s singing has been presented more than any other on this blog, but in Kimt der shadkhn Shame you can finally hear her perform a more upbeat comic song, even if the song is incomplete. Here is her rendition, recorded in the Bronx by Leybl Kahn in 1954 (the first chorus is incomplete– a long pause in the middle of the recording has been removed):

Kimt a shadkhn Shame
tsi mayn tate-mame
a shidikh hot er gur far mir. 

The matchmaker Shame comes
to my parents;
he has a match just for me. 

A meydl a groyse brie,
un di mame‘z an ishes-tsnie
shoyn in git, es ekt dekh di velt.

A girl, a wonderfully clever girl,
and her mother is a modest woman.
Fine and good – the world comes to an end.

Oy, oy, khotsh nem un gib im shoyn shadkhones-gelt
sheyn in git, es ekt dekh di velt.

Oy, give him the matchmaker‘s fee right away,
Fine and good, the world comes to an end.

[The chorus is incomplete due to a break in the recording]

Kimt a datsh, a higer
tsu mayn fliaskedrige,
a tshive vil er fin im aroys.

A local modern, enlightened Jew,
comes to my unsightly person,
and wants an answer from him, straight away.

Er iz a raykh kind,
un far zayne zind,
batsuln vil er mit a pidyen a gitn.

He is a wealthy child,
and for his sins,
he wants to pay a high fee to the Hasidic rabbi

Oy, oy, vi kent ir dus gor  farshteyn?
Tsitsekikn dem rebns mine, 
ven se brent af im di shkine. 
Apikorsim, vi kent ir dus farshteyn?

Oy, oy, how could you understand this?
To look upon the Rebbe‘s countenance,
when the Divine Presence burns on him;
Apostates! How could you understand.

“Vos vet zayn?” Performed by Rabbi Eli Silberstein

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Joel Rubin

Rabbi Eli Silberstein (first name pronounced to rhyme with “deli”) has been the charismatic leader of the Roitman Chabad Center at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York for over twenty-five years. Silberstein comes from a long line of Hasidic scholars from Russia and can also trace his lineage to the Vilna Gaon, one of the foremost rabbis and scholars of the 18th century. He possesses a large repertoire of nigunim that he had learned as a child in Antwerp, Belgium, where he grew up in a community comprising Hasidim from a number of different dynasties, as a Yeshiva student in Israel and France, and in Crown Heights in Brooklyn, New York, the headquarters of the Lubavitcher Hasidim.


Photograph of Rabbi Eli Silberstein by Anastasia Chernyavsky

A noted Talmudic scholar, Silberstein is renowned for his vast knowledge of Jewish law, philosophy and kabbalah. He lectures and publishes extensively, and has developed many courses for the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Silberstein is also a ba’al menagen, a masterful singer and an acknowledged expert on Hasidic nigunim and storytelling.

Vos vet zayn? (What Will Happen?) is a cumulative folk song that Silberstein learned from an old recording of Yossele Rosenblatt (1882-1933). Silberstein grew up with the old recordings of the great cantors, especially those of Rosenblatt and Zavel Kwartin (1874-1952).

Rabbi Eli Silberstein is the featured vocalist on the new Joel Rubin Ensemble CD, The Nign of Reb Mendl: Hasidic Songs in Yiddish (Traditional Crossroads, 2010).  For more information about the CD, click here.

Field recording of Silberstein made by Rubin in Ithaca (the field recording leaves out the last verse which is included in the transcription below):

Excerpt from the Joel Rubin Ensemble CD The Nign of Reb Mendl: Hasidic Songs in Yiddish:

Zog zhe rebenyu
vos vet zayn
ven meshiakh vet kumen?
Ven meshiakh vet kumen?
veln mir makhn a sudenyu.

Tell us, rebbe,
what will happen,
when the Messiah comes?
When the Messiah comes,
we’ll make a big feast.

Vos veln mir esn oyf dem sudenyu?
Dem shoyr ha-bor, leviyasan veln mir esn
oyf dem sudenyu.

What will we eat at the feast?
The Wild Ox and Leviathan we will eat
at the feast.

Vos veln mir trinken oyf dem sudenyu?
Dem yayin ha-meshumor veln mir trinkn…
oyf dem sudenyu.

What will we drink at the feast?
Preserved wine (from the time of creation) we will drink…
at the feast.

Un ver vet uns toyre zogn oyf dem sudenyu?
Moyshe rabenyu vet uns toyre zogn…
oyf dem sudenyu.

Who will teach us Torah at the feast?
Moses the teacher will teach us Torah…
at the feast.

Un ver vet uns shpiln oyf dem sudenyu?
Dovid ha-melekh vet uns shpiln…
oyf dem sudenyu.

Who will play for us at the feast?
King David will play for us…
at the feast.

Un ver vet uns khokhme zogn oyf dem sudenyu?
Shloymoy ha-melekh vet uns khokhme zogn…
oyf dem sudenyu.

Who will tell us things of wisdom at the feast?
King Solomon will tell us things of wisdom…
at the feast.

Un ver vet tantsn oyf dem sudeynu?
Miryam ha-naviya vet uns tantsn…
oyf dem sudenyu.

Who will dance for us at the feast?
Miriam the Prophetess will dance for us…
at the feast.

“Az es shtarbt nor up dus ershte vaybele” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

The biography of the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW] (1893 – 1973) who grew up in Zvinyace/Zvinyetchke, Bukovina (then part of Austria-Hungary), is given in the very first post of The Yiddish Song of the Week. This week’s song is also taken from the 1954 recordings of her made by Leybl Kahn in NYC.

Formally, “Az es shtarbt nor up dus ershte vaybele” (“As Soon as the First Wife Dies”) could be considered a classic ballad. The first three verses set the stage for the dialogue between the children and their father. As a narrative though, the last verse, which is sung by the father, leaves no resolution to the hopeless situation at all. 

The melody in ballads almost always stays the same for all the verses.  However, in this song the melody changes for the dialogue verses, becoming more dramatic, as does Lifshe’s moving, mournful singing. 

Ethnographically, the song depicts the poverty of the families at this time; even a piece of bread and butter was considered a delicacy. In her memoirs Durkhgelebt a velt  LSW writes of her own cruel stepfather who would not allow her to eat bread with butter. Her mother, Taube, turned the buttered side of the bread over when the stepfather entered so he would not see it. 


Please note: The dialect of the singer is more accurately reflected in the transliteration than in the Yiddish.

Az es shtarbt nor up dus ershte vaybele
Koym hot men zi bagrubn.
heybn di shadkhunim arim dem yingn man,
arim zekh tsi yugn.

As soon as the first wife dies,
and has barely been buried.
The matchmakers start chasing
the young man.

Redt men im a vaybele,
iz zi bay im mies (?)/ or perhaps [iz du bay im menies – he finds obstacles, objections]
Redt men im a meydele,
iz zi tsiker zis.

When they try to match him with an older woman
He finds her ugly.
When they try to match hm with a girl,
He finds her sugar sweet.

Zi nemt di kinder tsvugn,
zi rayst zey oys di hor.
Zey loyfn tsum tatn, veynen un klogn.
Er tit zey nokh mer shlogn.

She starts to comb for lice
and pulls out their hair;
They run to their father, crying and moaning,
He beats them even more.

Oy futer, oy futer.
Vi iz indzer miter? Vi iz indzer miter?
Vus zi flegt indz budn,
in milekh un in piter.

Oh father, oh father.
Where is our mother?
Who used to bathe us
in milk and butter.

Oy kinder, oy kinder
Broyt mit piter vet ir esn.
Nor in ayer mamen,
mizt ir shoyn fargesn.

Oh children, oh children,
Bread and butter you will eat.
But your mother
you must now forget.

Oy futer, oy futer,
Broyt mit zalts veln mir esn,
in undzer miter‘s kushere neshome,
kenen mir nit fargesn.

Oh father, oh father
Bread and salt we will eat.
But our mother‘s kosher [pure] soul,
we will never forget.

Oy kinder, oy kinder
Az di shtif-mame vet aykh shlogn,
zolt ir nit kimen tsu mir
mit veynen un klogen.

Oh children, oh children
When the stepmother beats you,
Don‘t come to me,
with moans and cries.