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Three Yiddish Songs to the tune of the Italian pop classic “Return to Sorrento”

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Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In this posting, we examine three Yiddish Songs set to the tune of the Italian pop classic Return to Sorrento:

1) Fil gelitn hob ikh miter sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded in 1954 by
Leybl Kahn
2) Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets sung by Reyzl Stalnicovitz, and recorded by Itzik Gottesman in Mexico City, 1988.
3) Sore-Yente a song found in Meyer Noy’s collection at the National Library in Jerusalem, and performed by Sharon Bernstein, piano and vocal, and Willy Schwarz on accordion, Florence, Italy 2001.

sorrento

This week we highlight three Yiddish songs that use the melody of an Italian pop classic Torna a Surriento (Return to Sorrento) music by Ernesto De Curtis (1875 – 1937), copyright 1905. The original lyrics were by his cousin Giambattista De Curtis. Here is a Dean Martin recording of the Italian song which we chose because it has a translation of the Italian lyrics (click here to listen).

There are even more Yiddish songs that use this melody, among them: in 1933 after the murder of Haim Arlosoroff in Tel-Aviv, a song was composed to this melody and a song sheet was published (A tragisher mord in Tel-Aviv/A Tragic Death in Tel Aviv). A song about the Polish Jewish strongman Zishe Breitbard (1883 – 1925) also uses a version of the melody (see Mlotek, Songs of the Generations, page 147-148 ).

Thanks this week to Aida Stalnicovitz Vda Fridman and Sharon Bernstein.

1) Fil gelitn hob ikh miter (I Have Suffered Much Mother) 
Performance by Lifshe Schaechter Widman, recorded in 1954 by Leybl Kahn in NYC.

Lifshe introduces the song by saying “S’iz a lidl vus me hot gezingen in der ershter milkhume (It’s a song that was sung in the First World War).” The four verses are entirely in the mother’s voice, apparently addressed to her mother, as indicated in the first line.

TRANSLITERATION
Fil gelitn hob ikh miter
bay der as[ent]irung fun mayn kind.
Gearbet hob ikh shver in biter
Far vus lad ikh nokh atsind.?

Iz mayn zin nokh mayn nekhome
Vi iz er fin mir avek?
Afarshundn iz er in der milkhume.
Un a seykhl in un a tsvek.

Ziser Got ikh beyt ba dir
loz mikh nokh a nes gesheyn.
Eyder eykh vel shtarbn
Vil eykh mayn kind nokh eyn mol zeyn.

Dentsmult vel ikh riyik shtarbn.
Got tsi dir keyn tanes hubn.
Loz mayn kind khotsh eyn mul mir
nokh, “mamenyu” zugn.

TRANSLATION
Much have I suffered mother,
from the drafting of my child.
I worked hard and bitter.
Why do I still suffer?

My son is still my comfort
Where did he go and leave me?
Disappeared into the war,
for no logic, for no reason,

Dear God I pray to you
May another miracle take place.
Before I die,
I want to see my son once more.

Then I would calmly die
God, have no complaints to you..
Let my child say to me –
just once more “my mother dear”.

Fil Gelitn

2) Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets (Beautiful is Reyzele, the Shokhet’s Daughter)
Performance by Reyzl Stalnicovitz, recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Mexico City, 1988.

StalnicovitzPhotoReyzl Stalnicovitz, photo by Itzik Gottesman

Reyzl Stalnicovitz was born in 1935 in Xalapa, district of Vera Cruz, Mexico. She was a teacher at the I. L. Peretz shul (“Di naye yidishe shul”) in Mexico City, and passed away in  1996.

Of the three songs presented in this post, this song was by far the most popular and has been printed in several collections and can be found in the field recordings of Ben Stonehill, Sarah Benjamin and at the National Library in Israel. As for commercial recordings: Lea Szlanger sings it on her CD Lea Szlanger In Song.

The text was originally a thirteen verse poem by Zusman Segalovitch (1884 – 1949) that first appeared in the periodical Der shtrahl, Volume one, #2 Warsaw, 1910 (see below). There it was titled Dem shoykhets tokhter: balade (The shoykhet’s daughter: ballad) followed by the inscription – Dos hobn kinder in shtetl dertseylt (This Was Told by Children in Town).

The plot – Reyzl wants to marry Motl but the father, a shoykhet (kosher slaughterer) boils with anger as she combs her hair because she refuses the match he made. He then cuts her golden locks. Then it gets “weird”: she swims into the Vistula (Yiddish = Vaysl) river and builds a little shelter for herself along the bank until her hair locks grow again.
Stalnicovch sings four verses. This ballad was almost always shortened when sung. For example in the Arbeter Ring’s extremely popular songbook Lomir zingen (1939, NY), only five verses are printed (that scanned version, words and music, are attached below).

TRANSCRIPTION
Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets.
Zi hot a yunge harts on zorgn.
Zi tants un freyt zikh mit ir lebn.
Vi a shvalb mitn frimorgn.

Es bakheynen ir di oygn
Es bakreynen ir di lokn.
Un a shtoltse iz zi shtendik.
Zi vet far keynem zikh nit beygn.

Un ir tate iz a frumer
un dertsu a groyser kaysn.
Ven di tokhter kemt di lokn
Heybt er on di lipn baysn .

Un der tate veyst nokh gornisht
Vos in shtetl veysn ale:
Az Reyzl hot shoyn a khosn.
Un me ruft ir Motls kale.

TRANSLATION
Beautiful is the shoykhet’s daughter Reyzl
She has a young heart with no worries.
She dances and is joyful with her life
as a swallow is with the morning.

Her eyes make her pretty
Her locks are a crown on her;
And she is always proud.
She will bow for no one.

Her father is religious
and also quick to anger.
When he combs her locks,
he starts to bite his lips.

And her father doesn’t know anything
what everyone knows in town:
that Reyzl has a groom,
and they call her Motl’s bride.

Spoken (transliteration):
Dos iz vos ikh gedenk. Ober di mame flegt mir dertseyln az s’iz geven epes a gantse tragedye, vayl der tate hot nisht gevolt az zi zol khasene hobn. Vayl er iz geven a sotsyalist, a yingl, un er iz geven a frumer yid. Er hot gevolt zi zol khasene hobn mit a yeshiva bokher. Un zi’s antlofn mitn bokher.

Spoken (translation):
That’s what I remember. But the mother used to tell me that it was a whole tragedy because the father did not want her to get married. Because he (the groom) was a socialist boy and he (the father) wanted him to marry a Yeshiva student. And she ran away with the boy.

Sheyn iz Reyzele

3) Sore-Yente
Performance by Cantor Sharon Bernstein, Florence, 2001 (accompanied by Willy Schwarz on accordion)

The third song that uses the melody of Sorrienta is Sore-Yente – a word play on the original Italian title. This was collected by Meir Noy in Israel in 1962 from Shmuel Ben-Zorekh, who learned it from an immigrant from Minsk. A scan of Meir Noy’s original notation, words and music are attached below.

TRANSLITERATION
Mit a nign fun akdomes
shteyt baym fentster Yosl-Monish,
Far der sheyner Sore-Yente
Zingt er dort tsu ir a lid:

Kum tsu mir mayn sheynes benken,
Eybik vel ikh dikh gedenken.
Kh’vel mayn lebn far dir shenken.
Vayl ikh bin in dir farlibt.

Azoy lang iz er geshtanen
vi der groyser pipernoter
un zi hert im vi der koter
un geyt derbay af gikh avek.

TRANSLATION
With a melody from Akdometh
stands at the window Yosl-Monish
For the beautiful Sore-Yente
there, he sings this song:

Come to me my longed for beauty
I will long for you eternally.
I will give you my life
For I am in love with you.

He stood there for so long
like a giant dragon.
She totally ignores him
And walks quickly by him.

Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets (Beautiful is Reyzele, the Shokhet’s Daughter) by Zusman Segalovitch (1884 – 1949) in the periodical Der shtrahl, Volume one, #2 Warsaw, 1910:
ReyzlWords1ReyzlWords3ReyzlWords4ReyzlWords5ReyzlWords2

Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets (Beautiful is Reyzele, the Shokhet’s Daughter) from the Arbeter Ring’s songbook Lomir zingen (1939, NY):

Arbeter Ring1
Arbeter Ring2

Sore-Yente in Meir Noy’s Notebook:
Sore Yente Vol 1, p74-page-0

“A Badekns/Veiling the Bride” Performed by M.M. Shaffir

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A badekns/Veiling the Bride
Sung and composed by M.M. Shaffir, recorded in the Bronx, 1974

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In his Yiddish poetry collections, the Montreal poet M. M. Shaffir occasionally included folksongs, rhymes and jokes that he remembered from his home town in Romania, Suceava (“Shots” in Yiddish). This original badekns, words and music, was printed in his collection of Yiddish poetry Ikh kum aheym, and follows very closely the traditional badekns that the badkhn (wedding entertainer) would deliver at the veiling of the bride. The printed pages with the Yiddish words and music are attached as pdfs.

ShafirBildM.M. Shaffir, photo by Itzik Gottesman

Shaffir did not clearly indicate that the music is his composition and not a traditional tune remembered from Suceava, but since he did compose other melodies for his poetry, I am leaning toward crediting him as composer the music as original.

Shaffir’s badekns, as is typical of the genre, addresses mainly the bride, then al the women, telling her of her wonderful future and how a pious religious Jewish life will assure her a place in heaven.

Listening to Shaffir sing this song in the Bronx are Beyle and Jonas Gottesman, the Yiddish writer Vera Hacken and her husband, the composer Emanuel Hacken.

Because the song is longer than usual, we are alternating transliteration with translation.

TRANSLITERATION/TRANSLATION

Kalenyu, tsat tsi der khipe geyn –
bam khusn hosti deym zibetn kheyn.
Gefin azoy kheyn oykh ba Got un ba lat.
Az dan shem zol zikh trugn noent un vat.

Dear bride, time to go to the khupe.
The groom is enamored of you.
May God and all people see this charm,
so your reputation, will be heard near and far.

A shem-tov iz beser fun gutn eyl,
vi s’vert in di heylike sfurim dertseylt.
Far vur, er iz shener fin alerley tsir,
un er hit fin shlekhts deym erlekhns tir.

A good name is better than good oil,
as it is written in the holy books.
Indeed, it is more beautiful than all kinds of ornaments.
and protects from evil the honest one’s door

Nushim tsidkuniyes, beydns tsad –
aykh kimt hant der ershter vivat.
kalenyu, kik tsa di babes aher –
zey, vi zey shmeykhlen un lozn a trer.

Pious women on both sides –
you deserve the first praise.
Bride, look over to the grandmothers –
see how they smile and drop a tear.

Shtel zikh, kale, ba zey in rey,
un her mayne shloyshe dvurim tsvey –
az dort, vi mitsves hobn an ort,
iz shulem-bayes oykh do dort.

Bride, stand with them in row,
and hear my few words –
– there where mitsves find a place,
there is also peace at home.

Mitsves brengen di brukhe in hoyz,
in trabn fin dort deym dales aroys.
Zey bentshn mit gite doyres dus pur
in mit khayim- arikhim, gezinte yur.

Mitsves (good deeds/fulfillment of God’s commandments) bring blessings to the home,
and drive out poverty from there.
They bless the pair with good generations
and with a long and healthy life.

Fin mitsves hot men i du deym skhar,
un i s’iz af yener velt git derfar.
Vayl mitsves un maynsim toyvim nor
nemt mit der mentsh iber hindert yur.

From mitsves you receive both here a reward,
and in the word to come it will be good.
Because mitsves and good deeds
lasts for someone a hundred years.

Fin intern kisey-hakuved afir,
fin hinter a zilberner lekhtiker tir,
kimt di neshume arup of der erd,
aran inem gif, val azoy iz bashert.

From under God’s throne,
from behind a silver, illuminated door,
comes the soul down to earth,
and into the body for which he is destined.

Zi darf zikh du mitshen a lebn vist
un nisht vern farzindikt, nisht vern farrist,
un kimen tsirik far Got tsi geyn –
azoy vi geboyrn, tsikhtik un reyn.

It [the soul] must suffer here a life long
and not sin, not be torn away.
and return to God
the way it was born – pure and clean.

In gan-eydn shteyen shtiln gegreyt
in shan fin der shkhine, mit vasn geshpreyt,
batsirt un bahungen mit gildene tsikh –
in rifn di reyne neshumes tse zikh.

In paradise two chairs are prepared,
in the light of the shekhine, covered with white,
decorated and hung with a golden cover.
and call for the pure souls to come.

Un der vus hot af der zindiker erd
mitsves getin un gits geklert –
der zitst in gan-eydn oybn un
in bigdey-sheynkeyt ungetun.

And he who on this sinful earth
did mitsves and good deeds,
he sits in heaven at the head of the table,
and dressed in beautiful clothes.

In zkhis fin dan tsitkis, kalenyu kroyn,
zol zikh ekn der gulus bald un shoyn –
me zol zoykhe zan take gor in gikh
tsu hern dem shoyfer shel moshiakh.

Because of your piousness, dear bride,
may the exile soon end.
May we deserve right away
to hear the Messiah’s shofar.

Melukhim un surim zoln varfn fin shrek
tsin indzere tsures zol nemen an ek.
in Got zol mit zan rekhter hant
indz firn tsirik in heylikn land.

Let angels and seraphim shutter from fear,
our troubles should come to an end.
and God should with his right hand,
lead us back to the Holy Land.

Ikh heyb of mit a tfile dem bekher mit van
az halevay zol es nokh beyomeyni zan.
in ir, khusn-kale, in ir groys un kleyn –
zugt mir nokh af a kol un in eynem: “omeyn”

With a prayer I raise the goblet of wine,
that this should happen even in our own time.
And you, bride and groom, and you big and small,
say with me out aloud and together – “amen”
badekns music

badekns yid 1badekns yid 2

“Di farfirte” Performed by Leo Summergrad

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Di farfirte / The Woman Who was Led Astray
Words and (music?) by Morris Rosenfeld
Sung and recorded by Leo Summergrad

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This poem appears in the first volume of Morris Rosenfeld’s  (1862 – 1923)  poetry. Leo Summergrad learned it from his mother and I have only found one reference to the song: a query in Chana and Yosl Mlotek’s Forverts column “Leyner dermonen zikh lider”. But the two compilers had never heard of the song.

photo (1)Leo Summergrad’s mother, Minnie, and father, Abram Summergrad, on the right side. His in-laws Moishe and Esther Korduner are on the left.

Rosenfeld’s original poem is composed of three 14-line stanzas and we have printed it this way, though in Summerfeld’s handwritten transcription, which we attached, he has divided it into the more common 4 line stanzas. We are also attaching the printed version from Volume I of Rosenfeld’s collected works.

Though we are not sure who composed the music, we do know that Rosenfeld composed melodies to his poetry and sang them at readings.

Thanks to Leo Summergrad for contributing this recording.

1
Gedenkstu vi du host mir libe geshvorn,
gegrint hot der eplboym tsvishn di korn.
Der foygl hot ruik geblikt fun di tsvaygn
un ales arum iz gelegn in shvaygn.
O, ver hot es damolst gevust dayn kavone.
Geshtumt hobn himl un erd un levone.
Ven du host geshvorn far mir mit a fayer,
az eybik farblaybstu mayn eyntsik getrayer.
Du hot mikh farkisheft, du host mikh batrunken.
Ikh bin vi batoybt in dayn orems gezunken.
O, dan iz dayn umreyner vuntsh dir gelungen.
Du host in mayn heyliktum frekh ayngedrungen.
Mayn ere geroybt un mayn lebn tserisn.
Mikh biter baleydikt un endlikh farshmisn.

Do you remember, you swore your love for me.
The apple tree was greening among the rye.
The bird calmly watched us from the branches
and everything around us lay in silence.
O, who could then have known your intention.
Silent were heaven and earth and the moon,
when you swore to me with a fire,
that eternally you would remain my one true one.
You cast a spell on me; you intoxicated me.
I was as if deaf when i lay in your arms.
O, then you succeeded with your filthy desire;
into my sacred shrine you insolently penetrated.
You robbed me of my honor and tore my life apart.
Insulted me bitterly and finally whipped me.

2
Bin orm un elnt vos darfstu zikh shtern?
Fleg ikh bay dir shtendik zikh betn mit trern.
Un du bist dokh raykh un gebildet un eydl.
Gey zukh dir a shenere, raykhere meydl.
O, zol mir der fayer fun elnt farbrenen,
fleg ikh tsu dir zogn du darfst mikh nit kenen.
Farges on mayn sheynkeyt, ikh darf nit keyn gvires.
O loz mikh in armut, ikh zukh keyn ashires.
Gedenkstu di nakht ven mir zaynen gegangen
der mond iz vi zilber in himl gehangen.
Fun goldene shtern bakranst undzer svive
vos hobn geshmeykhlt vi kinder nayive.
Gedenkstu yene nakht? O, du darfst ir gedenken.
Ikh shenk es dir, Got zol in himl dir shenken.

I am poor and alone, why bother yourself.
I had always with tears pleaded with you.
Yet you are wealthy, educated and gentle.
Go find yourself a prettier, richer girl.
O, let the fire of loneliness burn me up,
I used to say to you, you should not know me.
Forget about my beauty; I need no valor.
Leave me poor, I do not search for riches.
Do you remember the night when we walked;
the moon was like silver hanging in the sky.
Golden stars crowned our surroundings
and smiled like naive children.
Do you remember that night? O, you should remember it.
I give it to you as a gift; God should give you it as a gift in heaven.

3
Ikh hob zikh bay dir mit rakhmones gebetn.
O, rays mikh nit oys vest mikh shpeter tsetretn.
O, loz mikh! ikh vel mir tsvishn di mashinen
an erlekhn man, a gelibtn gefinen.
A shapmeydl bin ikh, vos hob ikh tsu klaybn.
Bin orem geborn, vel orem farblaybn.
Dokh, du host mit zise un kuntsike verter
geshvorn az du nor muzst zayn mayn basherter.
Tsu sheyn bin ikh, hostu gezogt, tsu farvyanen
far mir iz a beseres lebn faranen.
Gedenkstu di nakht tsi iz lang shoyn fargangen
der vint hot koym vos geshoklt di zangen.
Arum di natur hot gekukt un geshvign
o, ver hot gerekhnt du zolst mikh batribn.

With compassion I pleaded with you.
O, don’t tear me out; stomp on me later.
O, leave me, so that among the machines
I will find an honest man, a lover.
I’m a shopgirl, what is my choice –
I am poor and will remain poor.
Still, with sweet and artful words
you swore that you must be my destined one.
Too beautiful am I, you said, to every wilt.
For me there is a better life awaiting.
Do you remember the night or is it far in the past?
The wind barely moved the stalks.
The nature around watched and was silent.
O who would have thought you would sadden me so.

4
Atsind zogstu vilstu mikh mer nit bagegenen
ikh hob derkegn, ikh kum zikh gezegenen.
Ikh veys az du gist zikh an anderer iber.
Nu, vintsh ikh dir, mazel-tov, mazl mayn liber.
Du bist keyn bal-khayim, dayn shem iz genezn
Di shuld zi iz mayne, yo, mayne gevezn.
Ikh hob nit gegloybt az du vest mikh baroybn
Ikh hob nit gevust nokh dem umglik fun gloybn.
Ikh hob nokh di mentshn genoy nit bagrifn.
Ikh hob nit gevust az di tsung iz geshifn.
Neyn, du bist nit shuldik; Ikh kum dir fartsayen
Ikh vil dikh farlozn, ikh vil dikh bafrayen.
Vi kum ikh, an oysvorf, in elnt geshlosn
farlangen mayn maysters a zun far a khosn?

Now you say you no longer want to see me.
I, to the contrary, come to bid farewell.
I know that you now love another:
so I wish you good luck and good fortune my love.
You are a living creature, your name will recover.
Guilty am I, yes I was the guilty one.
I did not believe that you would rob me.
I did not know of the tragedy in believing.
I did not know that the tongue is sharpened.
No, you are not guilty; I come to ask your pardon.
I want to leave you; I want to liberate you.
How could I, an outcast, trapped in loneliness,
ask my boss’s son to be my groom?
farfirts1farfirts2farfirts3

“Af mayn tatns dakh” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

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Af mayn tatns dakh (On My Father’s Roof)
Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG)
recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx 1991.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

From 1947 to 1951 Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG)  lived in displaced persons camps in Vienna. Two of them were Arzberger and Rothschild Hospital where her husband, Jonas Gottesman was the chief physician. She arrived there after two years in Bucharest. Since she was born in Vienna in 1920 (but grew up in Chernovitz) she could legally leave Bucharest at that time, while her husband, mother and brother had to cross into Austria illegally.
DP Beyle Lifsha

In Vienna circa 1949, from left: Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (mother), Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (daughter), friend Mitsi Weininger.

BSG believed she learned this song in Vienna during this time and wrote down the words in a notebook. In 1991 we found that notebook and I asked her to sing the songs she had written down in it.

The first line of the refrain “Sheyn bikh ikh sheyn, sheyn iz oykh mayn nomen” and text of the second verse are better known with a different melody in a  children’s song. Ruth Rubin includes it in her print collection Jewish Folk Songs and recorded it. More recently it can be heard on the CD “Voices of Ashkenaz”, featuring the singing of Svetlana Kundish and Deborah Strauss.

TRANSLITERATION:

Af mayn tatns dakh hengt a gildener krants
hant oder morgn, vu’zhe darf ikh zorgn?

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun same rabunim.

Bay di rabunim iz di Toyre groys,
ikh vel zan a kalele – a  bliendkie royz.

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun loyter rabunim.

Holtz in der kamer, a vaser in hoz.
Ale mise bukhirim fun shteytele aros.

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun loyter rabunim.

Eyner vet zan maner,  a sheyner, a faner,
Zetst zikh nor nit leybn mir, bist nokh nit mit mane.

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun loyter rabunim.

Got vet dir bashern vesti mane vern,
Vesti zetsn leybn mir, vet keyner dikh nisht shtern.

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun loyter rabunim.

Fli feygele fli,  fli zhe tsi man khusn!
Vet er mir shikn a halbn livyusin.

Sheyn bin ikh sheyn, sheyn iz mayn numen,
Vel ikh nemen a khusndl fun loyter rabunim.

TRANSLATION:

On my father’s roof hangs a golden wreath.
Today or tomorrow: so why should I worry?

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.

For the rabbis the Torah is great:
I will be a bride – a blossoming rose.

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.

Wood in the shed, water in the house
All ugly boys – get out of town.

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.

One will be mine – a handsome  and a fine one.
But don’t sit next to me – you’re not mine yet.

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.

God will destine it for you and become mine.
If you will sit next to me, then no one will bother you.

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.

Fly, birdie, fly, fly to my groom.
And he will send me half of the Leviathan.

Pretty, I am pretty and pretty is my name.
I will only choose a groom from among the rabbis.
BSG1BSG2

“Der freylekher kaptsn” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Der freylekher kaptsn (The Happy Poor Man) is an upbeat song I recorded from Jacob Gorelik in 1985 in New York City. The song follows the alef-beys for 23 verses. Der freylekher kaptsn is also known as Der freylekher khosid and Hop-tshik-tshak, which is a dance or dance step.

GorelikSingsBX

Jacob Gorelik sings at the Sholem-Aleichem Center with
Dr. Joshua Fishman sitting next to him (Bronx, 1980s)

As he says in his spoken introduction, Jacob Gorelik sent this song to the Israeli folklore journal Yeda-Am and it was printed in 1967 (Vol. 12 no 31-32) with the music. Attached are scans of those pages which include the Yiddish verses, a Hebrew translation and a brief commentary (in Hebrew) by the editor on the song at the end which includes references to other versions of the song found in other song collections. When he sang this for me Gorelik was reading the lyrics from the journal.

Gorelik also pointed out the similarity in melody to Khanele lernt loshn-koydesh (words by A. Almi), a song that was later recorded by Chava Alberstein and the Klezmatics among others.

The verse that corresponds to the letter ע begins with the word “helft” – because, as Gorelik explained, in the Ukrainian Yiddish dialect the “h” sound at the beginning of the word is often silent.

A humorous parody of the song about kibbutz life was collected and published by Menashe Gefen in issue 3-4, 1972, of the Israeli periodical מאסף, Measaf. Two scans of that are attached as are two scans of the version collected by I. L. Cahan and included in his 1912 publication Yidishe folkslider mit melodyen.

Thanks this week for help with the blog go to Paula Teitelbaum, Psoy Korolenko and Facebook friends

 

Gorelik speaks:

Lekoved mayn tayern gast, Itzikn, vel ikh zingen a folklid, an alte, alte folklid – “Der freylekher kaptsn”.  Un es geyt in gantsn loytn alef-beys. Du veyst kaptsonim zenen ale mol freylekhe. Gehert hob ikh dos mit etlekhe tsendlik yor tsurik fun mayn froys a shvoger: Hershl Landsman. In Amerike hot gebitn – in Amerike tut men ale mol baytn – gebitn dem nomen af London. Far zikh, far di kinder, zey zoln kenen vern doktoyrim.

Un er hot es gehert baym onfang fun tsvantsikstn yorhundert. Hershl iz shoyn nito; lomir im take dermonen. Landsman is shoyn nito. Zayn froy iz nito shoyn. Mayn eygene tayere froy iz shoyn nito.

Der freylekher kaptsn.  Es geyt loytn alef-beys. Gedrukt iz dos in Yeda-Am. Flegt aroysgeyn in Yisrol a vikhtiker zhurnal, a folklor-zhurnal. Unter der redaktsye fun Yom-Tov Levinsky, 1967 iz der zhurnal aroys, der numer.

 

א
Ikh bin mir a khosidl, a freylekhe briye.
Bin ikh mir a khosidl, on a shum pniye.
Bin ikh mir a khosidl, a khosidak.
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ב
Borves gey ikh mit hoyle pyates.
Fun oyvn biz arop mit gole lates;
Bin ikh mir a lustiker a freylekher bosyak
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ג
Gole lekher iz mayn kapote
fun oybn viz arop mit shvartser blote;
Tu ikh mir on fun eybn dem yarmak.
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak!

 ד
Der dales iz bay mir afn pritsishn oyfn.
Der kop tut vey fun dem arumloyfn;
kh’loyf un loyf azoy vi a durak.
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ה
Hering mit broyt iz bay mir a maykhl,
abi ikh shtop zikh on dem baykh.
un kartofles far a pitak.
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ו
Ver s’geyt in mayn veg,
der vet hobn gute teg;
in a bisl bronfn gefin ikh nit keyn brak;
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ז
Zingen, zing ikh af mayn gorgl
un shpiln, shpil ikh af mayn orgl.
Bin ikh mir a khosidl, a spivak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ח
Khotsh ikh bin mir horbevate
un dertsu nokh stulovate;
A bisl bronfn nem ikh mir geshmak
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ט
Toybenyu, mayn vayb zogt tsu mir:
nito af shabes, vey tsu dir;
leydik iz mayn keshene, nito keyn pitak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

י
Yontif iz bay mir di beste tsayt,
tsu antloyfn fun der klipe – vayt;
un makh ikh dort a koyse mit dem knak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

כּ
Koshere kinderlekh, a ful getselt,
hungerike tsingelekh aroysgeshtelt.
Esn viln zey gants geshmak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ל
Loyfn, loyf ikh af di piates,
vayl shikh zaynen gole lates.
Ikh loyf un loyf vi a bosyak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

מ
Mirenyu, mayn tokhter, zi zogt tsu mir:
ven met kumen di nekhome af mir?
Gib mir a khosn mit a kurtsn pidzak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

נ
Nekhome, mayne, zog ikh tsu ir:
Du vest nokh heysn mitn nomen – shnir.
Dayn shviger vet zayn a groyser shlak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ס
S’hoybt nor on tog tsu vern,
heybn zikh on di kinderlekh iberklern;
un kalt iz zey gants geshmak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ע
Elft mir kinder zmires zingen,
vet ir zayn bay mir voyle yingen;
shenken vel ikh aykh a pitak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

פּ
Peysekh kumt, bin ikh mir freylekh,
mayn vayb a malke un ikh a meylekh.
Matsos hobn mir a fuln zak;
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

צ
Tsadikim, rebeyim, veysn aleyn,
az s’iz nit gut tsu zayn gemeyn;
tsores faran in a fuler zak,
tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ק
Kinder mayne, hob ikh gezogt:
haynt iz simkhes-toyre, nit gezorgt;
A koyse veln mir makhn gants geshmak;
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ר
Royzenyu, mayn tokhter, zogt tsu mir:
kh’hob a man, iz er gerotn in dir:
er git mir nit af shabes afile keyn pitak;
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ש
Shoyn Purim iz do, a yontif bay mir,
Ikh trog shalekh-mones fun tir tsu tir.
Khap ikh a trunk bronfn gants geshmak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

תּ
Tomid freylekh, nit gezorgt,
Nor layen, nor geborgt.
un in keshene iz nito keyn pitak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

In honor of my dear guest, Itzik, I will sing the folksong, an old, old folksong “The Happy Poor man”. It goes according to the alphabet. You know poor people are always happy. I heard this a few decades ago from my brother-in-law Hershl Landsman. In American he changed – In America one is always changing – In America he changed his name to London; for his sake, for his children, so that they can become doctors.

And he heard it at the beginning of the 20th century. Hershl is no longer here; his wife is no longer here. My dear wife is no longer here.

“The Happy Poor Man”. It goes according to the alphabet. It was published in Yeda-Am, that used to be published in Israel: a folklore journal, an important journal, edited by Yom-Tov Lewinsky. In 1967 this issue was published.

א
I am a khosid, a happy creature.
I am a khosid, with no bias.
I am a khosid, a khosidak [humorous form of khosid]
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ב
I go around barefoot with bare soles.
Up and down I’m full of patches.
I’m happy-go-lucky, cheerful and barefoot
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ג
My kaftan is full of holes
from top to bottom full of mud.
So I put on my overcoat
and I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak.

ד
I treat poverty as if it were nobility,
my head hurts from all my running around.
I run and run as an fool,
so I dance a joyous hip-tshik-tshak.

ה
Herring with bread is a real treat
as long as I can stuff up my tummy,
with potatoes for a penny.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ו
Whoever goes in my path
will enjoy good days.
In a little whiskey I find nothing to waste;
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ז
I sing with my throat
and play on my organ.
So I am a khosid, a singer.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ח
Though I am a hunchback
and I slouch a little too,
I take a nice swig of whiskey.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ט
Toybeynyu, my wife says to me:
We have nothing for sabbath, woe is me.
Empty is my pocket with no penny.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak.

י
Holidays are the best time for me,
to escape far from my shrewish wife.
And I drink a shot with real snap.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

כּ
Observant children – I have a tent full;
their hungry tongues sticking out.
They really want to eat a lot.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ל
I run on my soles
because my shoes are all patched up.
I run and run like a barefoot man,
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

מ
Mirenyu, my daughter, says to me:
when will I get some relief?
Give me a groom with a short jacket.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

נ
“My solace”,  I say to her:
“You will yet one day be called ‘daughter-in-law’.
Your mother-in-law will be big nuisance.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ס
As soon as the day breaks,
my children start to consider their state:
and they are so very cold.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ע
If you help me children to sing zmires
you will be good kids.
I will give as a tip, a coin.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

פּ
When Passover comes I am happy:
my wife is a queen and I a king.
We have a full sack of matzoh
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

צ
Holy rabbis, Rebbes, know already
that it’s not good to be vulgar.
We have a sack full of troubles.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ק
My children, I said,
today is Simkhes-Torah, don’t worry.
We will all down a good drink,
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ר
Rose, my daughter, says to me.
I have a husband just like you.
He doesn’t give me a penny for the Sabbath
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ש
Purim is already here, a real holiday for me,
I carry shalekh-mones from door to door.
I take a quick swig of whiskey, really fine.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ת
Always joyous, never worried,
Always borrowing, always mooching,
And in my pocket not a penny.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

Yeda-Am, 1967 (Vol. 12 no 31-32):

hoptshikyedaam1hoptshikyedaam2hoptshikyedaam3

hoptshikyeedaam4

Measaf, 3-4, 1972:

kibbutz1

Kibbutz2

I. L. Cahan, 1912:

Cahan1Cahan2 copy

“Lindenboym” Performed by Beyle Schaechter Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This song performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman is more commonly sung with different Yiddish words and called “Di verbe – The Willow.”

Hayim Bialik
Haim Nakhmen Bialik

The text is based on a poem by the Hebrew-Yiddish poet Haim Nakhmen Bialik, written in Hebrew in 1908. Apparently there were several translations of the poem into Yiddish, and in Chernovitz, Romania this is the translation that was used.

Recorded in the Bronx by Itzik Gottesman, 1980s.

Spoken by Beyle:
Bialiks Di verbe hobn mir a bisl andersh gezungen.
We sang Bialik‘s “The Willow‟ a little differently.

Nisht of berg un nisht of nider,
shteyt a lindnboym, a mider.
Ayngeboygn ful mit bleter,
un er zogt vos vet zayn shpeyter.

Not on hills, not down below,
stands a linden tree, exhausted.
Bent over, full of leaves,
and he says what will later be.

Kh‘vel tsum boym mayn kop tsileygn,
un af mayn khusn vel ikh freygn –
Boym, tsi vet er nokh farzamen?
Boym, fun vanen vet er shtamen?

I will lay my head on the tree,
and will ask about my groom –
Tree, will he arrive (too) late?
Tree, from where will he come?

Tsi fun poyln, tsi fun vanen?
Tsi fun Lite, tsi fun danen?
Tsi trugt er perl, gold in pekl?
Tsi an urem tfilin-zekl?

From Poland? From where?
From Lithuania or from here?
Does he carry pearls, gold in his sack?
Or a poor man‘s tfilin-bag?

Un vi vet er zayn, boym ziser?
Tsi a sheyner, tsi a miser?
Tsi a bokher? Tsi a gegeter?
Tsi an alter yid zayn vet er?

And what kind will he be, dear tree?
A beauty or ugly?
Not yet married or divorced?
Or will he be an old Jew?

lindenboymniborskicomment

“Brider, Zog” by Sholem Berenshteyn

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Brider, zog (Brother, Say) is by the 19th century Yiddish poet Sholem Berenshteyn. No one seems to be sure of his life dates (and not even his first name – some say Shmuel) but he lived in Kamenetz-Podolsk, Ukraine, and died before 1880. In 1869 he published his collection Magazin fun yidishe lider far dem yidishn folk in Zhitomir, which was reprinted several times.

The best source for his biography is Zalmen Reisin‘s Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, volume 1. Reisin considers him one of the first Yiddish folkpoets and even the poet Mikhl Gordon („Maskhe‟, „Di bord‟) considered him a better poet than himself. As Reisin points out, his work sometimes touches upon typical maskilic themes (anti-Hasidic, Russian patriotism) but he mostly stays clear of them, and his most popular poems became songs with traditional themes such as Brider zog and Sholem-Aleykhem which the Bessarabian folksinger Arkady Gendler sings on his recording, released in 2001, Mayn shtetele Soroke, produced by Jeanette Lewicki.

The most extensive discusssion of the song Brider, zog is in Joseph and Chana Mlotek‘s book Perl fun der yidisher poezye which was recently translated into English by Barnett Zumoff as Pearls of Yiddish Poetry, Ktav Publishing. The song was originally titled Zmires has 15 verses; what was sung were the first four verses.

I have attached the Yiddish words and music in the version found in Z. Kisselhof‘s Lider zamlung far der yidisher shul un familye, St. Petersburg 1911 which is very close to the version sung here.

The unidentified singer is clearly more of a „pro‟ than we are used to hearing in the songs posted on this blog. But listening to her interpretation of khasidic song does raise interesting questions about the “art song” interpretation of khasidic style. The late, great Masha Benya, among others, comes to mind in this regard. This singer turns a song, which melodically could be quite boring, into an interesting performance.

I know this song from my mother, Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, who learned it from her mother, Lifshe Schaecther Widman, and the words as they are sung here are almost exactly the same (we sing „Ver vet lakhn, un khoyzek makhn…‟).

Thanks again to Lorin Sklamberg, sound archivist at YIVO, who allowed us to post another song from the YIVO Stonehill collection.

A folkslid…khsidish.
A folksong, khasidic.

Brider zog, vi heyst der tog,
ven mir ale zenen freylekh?
Der yidele, der kleyner, der kusherer, der sheyner
Iz dokh dan a meylekh.

Tell me brother what is the day called
when we are all joyous?
The Jew, the little one, the kosher one, the beautiful,
Then feels himself like a king.

Shabes aleyn, kimt tsu geyn,
Freyt aykh kinder ale!
Oy tantst kinder, yederere bazinder,
Lekoved der heyliker kale.

The Sabbath itself arrives,
Be happy all you children!
O, dance children, each on his own,
in honor of the holy bride.

Dos iz klor, vi a hor
az shabes is di kale.
Der khusndl der sheyner, iz nit keyner.
Nor mir yidelekh ale.

This is obvious as a hair,
that Sabbath is the bride.
The beautiful groom is no one else
but all of us Jews.

Un ver es lakht, un khoyzek makht.
Fun der kale-khusn.
Der vet take esn a make
fun der side-levyusn.

And he who laughs, and mocks
the groom and bride.
He will indeed eat nothing
at the Leviathan-feast.

o, brider zog….