Archive for Holocaust

“In Daytshland aleyn” Performed by Goldie Rosenbaum-Miller

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2022 by yiddishsong

In Daytshland aleyn / In Germany Itself
A 19th century pogrom song adapted for the Holocaust sung by Goldie Rosenbaum-Miller. Recorded by Michael Kroopkin, circa 1965.

Goldie Rosenbaum-Miller

In daytshland aleyn, hob ikh dort gezeyn
zitsn ayn meydl, ayn sheyne, zitsn ayn meydl, ayn sheyne.
Ze, zi itstert veynt far yedern farbay geyn,
zi beyt a neduve, ayn kleyne,

In Germany I saw there
a girl was sitting, a beauty, a girl was sitting, a beauty.
See how she cries now, for every passerby.
She asks for alms, just a few.

Meydl, di sheyne, di binst azoy eydl.
Vus makhsti aza troyerdike mine?
Vus makhsti aza troyerdike mine?
Dayn sheyne fagur [figur], dayn eydele natur,
past dir tsu zayn a grafine.

Girl, you pretty one, you are so gentle.
Why do you make such a sad face?
Why do you make such a sad face?
Your fine figure, your gentle nature –
It suits you more to be a countess.

S’iz mir ayn shand, oystsushtrekn man hant
tsu beytn ba laytn gelt. 
Got di tayerer, Got oy mayner
Nem mikh shoyn tsi fin ver velt. 

I am ashamed to stretch out my hand
and beg for money from people.
Oh God, you dear one, Oh my God, 
Take me away from this world. 

Hitler mit di katsapn mit zayne vilde lapn.
Er hot, dokh, oy, ales fardorbn. Er hot, dokh, oy, ales fardorbn
Dos hoyz hot er tsibrokhn Man fater geshtokhn
Fin ales [ ?] far toytshrek geshtorbn.
Dos hoyz hot er tsibrokhn. Man fater geshtokhn
Mayn muter far toytshrek geshtorrbn.

Hitler with his bandits [“Katsapn”: derogatory word for “Russians”]
and his wild paws,
He ruined everything. He ruined everything.
My house was destroyed. My father was stabbed,
From it all, they died of terror.
My house was destroyed. My father was stabbed,
my mother died of terror. 

Ven men iz aroys, fun yeydern hoyz
s’i geveyn shreklekh tsitsikikn. 
Hitler mit di bande er hot gefirt di komande.
Er hot dokh, oy, ales fardorbn. 
Hitler mit di bande, Er hot gefirt di komande.
Er hot dokh oy ales fardorbn.

When everyone came out
of their houses
It was a horrible site to see.
Hitler and his band,
he lead his gang
Oh, he ruined everything.
Hitler and his band,
he lead his gang
Oh, he destroyed everything.

Commentary on the Singer Provided by Debbie Kroopkin, Her Great-Grandaughter:

Goldie Miller was born Goldie Rozenbaum in Sokolow Podlaski, Poland on March 4, 1888. She married Nathan Kroopkin in 1909 in Warsaw, emigrating to the U.S. in 1913. In Chicago, she later married Isaac S. Miller. She loved to sing and would often perform at landsmanshaften picnics. According to a family story she was asked to sing professionally in Poland “but chose to raise a family instead”. She died on April 23, 1973 in Chicago.

Commentary on the Song by Itzik Gottesman

This song is an adaptation of one of the oldest songs created after a pogrom. The “original” was published in 1895.  On this blog we have posted two versions of this song. Please see the notes to these two earlier versions on the blog – “In Odes af a shteyn” sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman and “In Kiever gas” sung by Frima Braginski.

But this version, “In Daytshland aleyn” sung by Goldie Rosenbaum-Miller, has converted it into a Holocaust song accusing Hitler of the destruction. “Katsapes”, a derogatory term for “Russians” that made more sense in the earlier pogrom versions, is kept in this Holocaust adaptation though historically it doesn’t fit it in. 

Thanks to Goldie Miller’s great-grandaughter, Debbie Kroopkin, who brought this family recording to the attention of Binyumen Schaechter, conductor of the Yiddish Philharmonic Chorus in NYC.

אין דײַטשלאַנד אַליין
געזונגען פֿון גאָלדי ראָזענבאַום-מילער
,אין דײַטשלאַנד אַליין, האָב איך דאָרט געזען

.זיצן אײַן [אַ] מיידל, אײַן [אַ] שיינע
[?] ,זע, זי איצטערט וויינט, פֿאַר יעדערן פֿאַרביי גיין
.זי בעט אַ נדבֿה, אײַן [אַ] קליינע

.מיידל, דו שיינע, דו בי(נ)סט אַזוי איידל
?וואָס מאַכסטו אַזאַ טרויערדיקע מינע
,דײַן שיינע פֿיגור, דײַן איידעלע נאַטור
.פּאַסט דיר צו זײַן אַ גראַפֿינע

,ס’איז מיר אײַן שאַנד, אויסצושטרעקן מײַן האַנט
.צו בעטן בײַ לײַטן געלט
,גאָט דו טײַערער, גאָט דו מײַנער
.נעם מיך שוין צו פֿון דער וועלט

היטלער מיט די קאַצאַפּן, מיט זײַנע ווילדע לאַפּן
ער האָט דאָך, אוי, אַלעס פֿאַרדאָרבן
,דאָס הויז האָט ער צעבראָכן, מײַן פֿאַטער געשטאָכן
.מײַן מוטער פֿאַר טויטשרעק געשטאָרבן

ווען מען איז אַרויס, פֿון יעדערן הויז
.ס’איז געווען שרעקלעך צוצוקוקן
היטלער מיט די באַנדע, ער האָט געפֿירט די קאָמאַנדע
.ער האָט דאָך אַלעס פֿאַרדאָרבן

“Got fin Avrum” Performed by Matele (Margaret) Friedman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2022 by yiddishsong

Got fin Avrum/God of Abraham (a woman’s prayer).
Version as remembered by Matele (Margaret) Friedman.
Recorded by Mark David in Los Angeles, January 1, 2020. Transcribed by Eliezer Niborski.

Matele Friedman

Got fin Avrum

Got fin Avrum, fin Yitskhok, fin Yankev,
bahit dayn lib folk Yisroyl.
Zibn teyg in ale teyg zoln undz voyl bakimen,
Furs (?) tsu gevin, tse leybn, tse oysher, tse mazl, tse brukhe,
tse parnuse.

God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Protect your dear people of Israel.
For seven days and all the days may we only know good:
For prosperity, life, wealth, good fortune, blessing and livelihood.

Reboyne-shel-oylem,
tsu susen, tsu simkhe, tse yeshies toyves, tse psires toyves,
Tsim alem gitn un tsu gevint[?].
Tsu gevin, tsu gevin, tsu lange lebetug [=lebnstug?]
hot der liber her Got fil farmugt.[?]

Dear God,
for joy, celebration, salvation, good tidings,
For all things good and prosperity
for prosperity, for prosperity for all of our lives.
So does our dear God possess.

Nemt der liber her Got dem bekher in zayn rekhter hant
Un makht a brukhe ibern gantsn land.
Makht a brukhe gur zhe hoykh
Az kol-yisruls kinder zoln zhe zogn umeyn oykh.

So our dear God takes the goblet in his right hand
And makes a blessing over the whole land.
Says a blessing very loudly
So that all of Israel’s children will say “Amen” too.

Umeyn, veumeyn, s’zol shoyn vern,
zol men shoyn oysgelayzt vern,
Bar [gor?] gikh in dem yor.

Amen, and amen, may we soon hear.
How we will be redeemed.
Soon in this very year.

Shma kolayni – ikh shray tsu dir,
lebediker Got, nu, helf zhe mir,
Ales bayz zol fin indz avekgeyn.

Listen to our voice – I shout to you
The living God, help me,
so that all bad things should go away.

Elye hanuvi, Elye hanuvi
zol bayn undz in indzer
hoyz aybik zayn,
Tse deym lekhtikn hoyz.
Me zol hofn
az tir un toyer zoln shtayn aybik ofn.

Elijah the prophet, Elijah the prophet
May he be in our house.
To the brilliant house,
May we hope
That door and gate should always stay open.

Ofn, ofn zoln shtayn,
Arayn, arayn zoln mir gayn.
Arayn, arayn zoln mir tritn [treytn]
mir zoln hubn dem lekhtikn Got [= hofn tsum likhtikn Got?]
A gite vokh,
A gezinte vokh,
A mazldike vokh.
A frayerdike vokh. [fraydike?]
A gebentshte vokh.
Mir zoln hubn a git mazl oysgebeytn.

Open, open may it stay,
Enter, enter may we go.
Enter, enter may we step.
May we have the brilliant God.
A good week
A healthy week
A happy week
A blessed week
May our prayers for a good fortune be accepted.

גאָט פֿון אַבֿרהם

נוסח פֿון מאַטעלע פֿרידמאַן
רעקאָרדירט פֿון מאיר דוד, לאָס־אַנדזשעלעס
טראַנסקריבירט פֿון אליעזר ניבאָרסקי

,גאָט פֿון אַבֿרהם, פֿון יצחק, פֿון יעקבֿ
.באַהיט דײַן ליב פֿאָלק ישׂראל
.זיבן טעג און אַלע טעג זאָלן אונדז ווויל באַקומען
.פֿורס [?] צו געווין, צו לעבן, צו עושר, צו מזל, צו ברכה, צו פּרנסה

,רבונו־של־עולם
,צו שׂשׂון, צו שׂימחה, צו ישועות־טובֿות, צו בשׂורות־טובֿות
.צום אַלעם גוטן און צו געווינט
צו געווין, צו געווין, צו לאַנגע לעבעטאָג  [= לעבנסטאָג?]
.האָט דער ליבער הער גאָט פֿיל פֿאַרמאָגט

נעמט דער ליבער הער גאָט דעם בעכער אין זײַן רעכטער האַנט
.און מאַכט אַ ברכה איבערן גאַנצן לאַנד
מאַכט אַ ברכה גאָר זשע הויך
.אַז כּל־ישׂראלס קינדער זאָלן זשע זאָגן אָמן אויך

,אָמן־ואָמן
,ס׳זאָל שוין ווערן, זאָל מען שוין אויסגעלייזט ווערן
,באַר [גאָר?] גיך אין דעם יאָר

,שמע קולנו — איך שרײַ צו דיר
,לעבעדיקער גאָט, נו העלף זשע מיר
,אַלעס בייז זאָל פֿון אונדז אַוועקגיין

,אליה הנבֿיא
,אליה הנבֿיא זאָל בײַן אונדז אין אונדזער הויז אייביק זײַן
.צו דעם ליכטיקן הויז
מע זאָל האָפֿן
,אַז טיר און טויער זאָלן שטיין אייביק אָפֿן

,אָפֿן, אָפֿן [זאָלן] זיי שטיין
,אַרײַן, אַרײַן זאָלן מיר גיין
,אַרײַן, אַרײַן זאָלן מיר טרעטן
מיר זאָלן האָבן דעם ליכטיקן גאָט.    [= האָפֿן צום ליכטיקן גאָט ?]
,אַ גוטע וואָך
,אַ געזונטע וואָך
,אַ מזלדיקע וואָך
,אַ פֿריידיקע וואָך
,אַ געבענטשטע וואָך
.מיר זאָלן האָבן אַ גוט מזל אויסגעבעטן

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is the second “Got fun/fin Avrom/Avrum”, a woman’s prayer said at the end of the Sabbath, that we have posted. It is also the second post on this blog of the singer Matele Friedman (born in 1927, in Kimyat, Czechoslovakia, now Velikiye Komyaty, Ukraine), who died in Los Angeles, February 2022. You can hear more of her songs in Yiddish at the website of Mark David’s radio program The Yiddish Voice/Dos Yidishe Kol.  

Mark David who recorded Matele Friedman in LA wrote the following after her passing:

She was, like my aunt Hedy and my mom, a survivor of Auschwitz from the Carpathians, deported in 1944 under the Hungarians.  But she lived a very different life compared to my mother after the war. She did not spend a few years in a DP camp in Germany or elsewhere in Western Europe after the war, but instead went back to the home area. She was a lot more frum, and practiced, surprisingly, orthodox Judaism under the Soviets when “our” area became part of Ukrainian SSR (Soviet Union).  (She had gone back after the war, gotten married, and started her family there.) She moved to the US in the 1970’s with her two young daughters, already teen-agers or a maybe a bit older.

In Noyekh Prilutski’s first collection of Yiddish folksongs Yidishe folkslider, 1912, which included religious and holiday songs, he printed 23 versions of this prayer. Here is the link to the first of the variations, song number 8.

Because the “Got fun Avrum” prayer was transmitted orally, the daughters often learned the prayer from their mothers as just sounds, not thinking what the words were or meant to be. As a result, a few words in this version cannot be understood and there are more question marks in the transcription in this post than we would ordinarily like. Eliezer Niborski did a wonderful job of transcribing Matele’s “Got fin Avrum” as best as possible. Corrections or improvements are welcome from those with sharper hearing. There are at least two more recordings of “Got fun Avrom” that we hope to post in the future. The “Got fun Avrom” prayer is the most widespread and among the oldest examples still extant of Yiddish woman’s folk poetry. A “standard” version can be found in the Art Scroll siddur and a scan is attached.

Thanks to Mark David, Eliezer Niborski, Simon Neuberg, Claudia Rosenzweig and David Braun.

Below: Art Scroll version of “Got fun Avrom”.

“Dus kind fun keynem nisht” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2022 by yiddishsong

Dus kind fun keynem nisht / No One’s Child
A Holocaust adaptation of a Romanian song. Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG]. Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx 1991.

Anny (Hubner) Andermann poses with a group of orphans whom she helped to have repatriated from Transnistria.
Archive of the United States Holocaust Memorial Musuem

BSG speaks: “Dus iz geven a Rumeynish lid in du zey ikh, az mir hobn gehat a yidishe versye.”
Vi heyst es af Rumeynish?
This was a Romanian song and here [in the notebook] I see that there was a Yiddish version. 

IG: How is it called in Romanian?
BSG sings in Romanian:

Copil sărac, al cui ești tu,
Al cui ești tu pe-acest pământ?
Tu ești copilul nimănui,
Al nimănui pe-acest pământ.

Poor child, whose are you,
Whose are you on this earth?
You are no one’s child,
No one’s on this earth.

BSG speaks: S’iz a lid veygn an urem kind Vus hot…
S’a yusem vus hot keynem nisht of der erd.

Spoken: It’s a song about a poor child, who has…
It’s an orphan who has no one in this world.

BSG sings:

Di urem kind mit shvartse hur.
Mit shvartse oygn zug mir gur.
Far vus dertseylsti yeydn yid,
Az di bist dus kind fun keynem nisht?

You poor child with blck hair
With black eyes, tell me:
Why do you tell every Jew/every one
That you are no one’s child?

“A sakh trern hob ikh fargosn,
Mayn mamenyu hot men geshosn.
Zi iz geshtorbn af deym ort.
‘Mayn tokhter’ var ir letse vort.

Many tears have I spilled,
My mother was shot.
She died on the spot.
‘My daughter’ were her last words”

BSG – Spoken = S’iz a ponim fin Transnistra.
It appears to be about Transnistria.

Mayn tatenyu hob ikh farloyrn.
Far kelt in hinger iz er ayngefrorn
Tsu shtarbn var zayn biter loz [German = los]
In an Ukrainer kolkhoz.

I lost my dear father.
From cold and hunger he froze.
To die was his bitter fate
In a Ukrainian kolkhoz. [ Soviet collective farm]

Ikh hob bagrubn mane libe.
Elnt aleyn bin ikh farblibn.
Men lozt mikh filn af yedn shrit:
az ikh bin dus kind fun keynem nit.

I buried my dear ones.
Alone, lonely I remained.
At every step people let me feel
that I am no one’s child.

BSG – “S’iz a versye vus me hot gemakht in Transnistria ober mit a sakh daytshmerizmen.”
 “It’s a version that was created in Transnistria but with many Germanisms. “

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

We’re posting this song in conjunction with the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2022. As noted in an earlier post, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman wrote down in a notebook lyrics to songs she heard in the Displaced Persons camp in Vienna, 1947 – 1951. I asked her to sing some of those songs in 1991. 

Bret Werb, musicologist at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. writes (via correspondence on email) about the Romanian song:

“The Romanian title is ‘Sînt copil al nimănui’ otherwise ‘Copil al nimănui’ otherwise ‘Cîntec de orfan’; the full lyric appears here, 

www.carpbarlad.org/files/reviste/viatanoastra_12.pdf (p 19, righthand side). 

As you’ll see it’s similar to the Yiddish version.  The song was collected as “folklore” in 1972 from informant Gheorghe Cazacu of Costeşti village, Cotovschi district (the field recording is part of the Gleb Ciaicovschi-Mereşanu Collection, National Archive of the Republic of Moldova). 

Thanks to Sandra Layman for transcribing and translating the Romanian verse. Thanks to Bret Werb for the information. Thanks to Carol Freeman, Paul Gifford, Joel Rubin, Suzanne Schwimmer and their friends who helped look for information on the Romanian song.

,דו אָרעם קינד מיט שוואַרצע האָר
.מיט שוואַרצע אויגן זאָג מיר גאָר
,פֿאַר וואָס דערציילסטו יעדן ייִד
?דו ביסט דאָס קינד פֿון קיינעם ניט

.אַ סך טרערן האָב איך פֿאַרגאָסן
.מײַן מאַמעניו האָט מען געשאָסן
.זי איז געשטאָרבן אויף דעם אָרט
.”מײַן טאָכטער” וואַר איר לעצטע וואָרט

ביילע (רעדט):  ס’איז אַ פּנים פֿון טראַנסניסטריע

.מײַן טאַטעניו האָב איך פֿאַרלוירן
.פֿאַר קעלט און הונגער איז ער אײַנגעפֿרוירן
,צו שטאַרבן וואַר זײַן ביטער לאָז
.אין אַן אוקראַיִנער קאָלכאָז

.איך האָב באַגראָבן מײַנע ליבע
.עלנט, אַליין ביך איך פֿאַרבליבן
:מען לאָזט מיך פֿילן אויף יעדן שריט
.איך בין דאָס קינד פֿון קיינעם ניט

.ביילע: ס’איז אַ ווערסיע וואָס מע האָט געמאַכט אין טראַנסניסטריע אָבער מיט אַ סך דײַטשמעריזמען

“Tsen brider zenen mir geveyzn” Performed by Molly and Josef Lubelski

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2021 by yiddishsong

Tsen brider zenen mir geveyzn / We were ten brothers
A Holocaust adaptation. Text by Israel Ashendorf. Sung by Molly and Josef Lubelski. Recorded by Abraham Lubelski, Bronx 1967

The Lubelski Troupe performing in a German D.P. camp

Transcription and Translation (Yiddish text after the commentary below)

Spoken by Josef Lubelski: “Tsen brider zenen mir geveyzn. An alt folkslid ibergearbet fun Ashendorf un Zigmund Taytlboym.”
“We Were Ten Brothers”, an old folksong adapted by Ashendorf and Zigmund Taytlboym

Tsen brider zenen mir geveyzn 
in frayd in in payn. 
Iz eyner gefaln inter Kutne
zenen mir geblibn nayn.

Ten brothers were we
in joy and in suffering.
When one of us fell near Kutne
we remained nine

Yidl mitn fidl, Berl mitn bas,
zingen aykh a lidl, oy, in mitn gas.
Yidl mitn fidl, Berl mitn bas.

Yidl and his fiddle, Berl and his bass
sing a song for you in the middle of the street.

Nayn brider zenen mir gevezn
yeder bay zayn mi in fakh.
Iz ayner gefaln inter Varshe
zenen mir geblibn akht. 

Nine brothers were we
we traded in cargo.
One fell in Warsaw
and eight remained.

Akht brider zenen mir geveyzn
tsezayt in tsetribn
farpaynikt eynem in Oshvyentshin [Oswiecim]
zenen mir geblibn zibn.

Eight brothers were we,
scattered and driven off.
One was tortured in Auschwitz
so seven remained.

Zibn brider zenen mir gevezn
in groylteg un in shrek. 
en eynem in Vin gehongen,
zenen mir geblibn zeks.

Seven brothers were we
in the days of horror and fear.
When one of us was hanged
we remained six.

Zeks brider zenen mir geveyzn
fartribn vayt in Krim. 
Iz eyner dortn imgekimen
zenen mir geblibn finf.

Six brothers were we
driven away to the Crimea.
When one of us died
we remained five.

Yidl mitn fidl, Berl mitn bas
zingen aykh a lidl, oy, in mitn gas.
Yidl mitn fidl.  Berl mitn bas

Yidl and his fiddle, Berl and his bass
sing a song for you in the middle of the street.
Yidl and his fiddle; Berl and his bass.

Finf brider zenen mir gevezn
un sonim un a shir. 
hot men eynem in Prag geshosn
zenen mir geblibn fir.

Five brothers were we
with countless enemies.
When they shot one in Prague
we remained four.

Fir brider zenen mir geveyzn 
in teyg fin bombes in blay. 
Iz eyner gefaln in Vilner geto
zenen mir geblibn dray. 

Four brothers were we
during days of bomb and lead.
One died in the Vilna ghetto,
leaving three

Dray brider zenen mir gevezn
eyner in der bafrayter armey.
iz er gefaln vi a held,
zenen mir geblibn tsvey.

Three brothers were we,
one in the liberated army.
He died a hero
and two were left.

In di tsvey ver zay zenen
vilt ir avade hern: 
Ayner fun zey is Yidl
in der tsveyter Berl. 

And who the two remaining are
you know of course:
one of them is Yidl
and the second one Berl.

Yidl mitn fidl. Berl mitn bas
zingen aykh a lidl,
nokh der tsayt fun mord un has.
Yidl mit dem fidl, Berl mitn bas.

Yidl with the fiddle, Berl with the bass
sing for you a song
in the time of death and hatred.
Yidl with his fiddle, Berl with his bass.

O-ho, o-ho, o-ho
o-ho o-ho o-ho
ho ho ho hoh hohhoho
hoh hoho hoho hohohoho

Zoln ale itstert hern,
un zoln ale visn
mir veln nokh vi frier shpiln
af khasenes un brisn.

Let everyone now hear,
let everyone should know:
we will still play for you as before
at weddings and circumcisions.

Oy veln mir nokh kindlen.
frukhtbarn zikh in mern, 
vi di zamd in yamen,
un oyf dem himl shtern. 

Oh will we have children,
be fruitful and multiply,
like the sand in the seas
and the stars in the sky.

Yidl mitn fidl. Berl mitn bas
Yidl with his fiddle. Berl with his bass.

Nor a kleyne bakushe 
hobn mir tsu aykh yidn.
in der heym gedenken
zolt ir undz in fridn.
 
Just a minor request
we ask of you all.
In your homes you should remember
us in peace.

A khasene, a simkhe
betn undz tsu gast. 
mikh –  yidl mit dem fidl
in mir [mikh] – Berl mitn bas 

For a wedding, a party
invite us as guests.
Me – yidl with his fiddle.
and me – Berl with his bass.

Oy, vet men in ayer hayzer 
gertner vet men flantsn. 
Vider vet men lider zingen
vider vet men tantstn.

O in your houses
gardens will be planted.
Once again we’ll sing songs,
once again we’ll dance.

oy, veln mir nokh shpiln,
vayzn vos mir kenen. 
Az far veytik veln platsn
di strunes in di sonim. 

O, will we play,
and show what we are capable of.
Let our enemies and music strings
explode out of pain [envy].

Yidl mitn fidl, Berl mitn bas. 
Yidl with his fiddle; Berl with his bass.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is the third song that our blog is presenting from the repertoire of Molly (Male/Minska) and Josef Lubelski who traveled to Displaced Persons (D.P.) camps in Germany after the war to perform songs, skits and recitations. For more on their biography see their previously posted songs.

Versions of the popular folksong “Tsen brider zenen mir geven”, upon which this version is adapted, can be found in the Ginzburg/Marek Collection of 1901 and a short history of the folksong, words and music, can be found in the Mlotek collection Perl fun der yidisher poezye, p. 121 (see scans below).

Itzik Manger used the refrain for his song “Yidl mitn fidl”.  In the Lubelski version, the music changes from the folk version when the number of brothers is reduced to two. The text at that point becomes more explicit on the plight and future of the Jews, rather than the demise of the brothers. Singer and compiler Shoshana Kalisch included a different Holocaust adaptation of “Tsen brider” in her collection of Holocaust songs –  Yes, We Sang! – with words and music.  One can hear that song at this link.

The author of this Lubelski version is Israel Ashendorf (1909 – 1956) but I could not find the text in his printed collections. In his introduction, Josef Lubelski mentions Sigmund Teytelboym as the musical adapter but I could not find any details on him. There is a 78 RPM recording of the Ashendorf song entitled “Yiddl [sic] mitn fidl” sung by I. Birnbaum and E. Zewinka, arranged by R. Solomon on the “Le Disque Folklorique Yiddish label”. There Ashendorf is credited as the author, spelled “Aschendorf”. A link to listen to the recording is here.

The Lubelski version is very close to the Birnbaum/Zewinka version but without instrumental accompaniment the Lubelski duo surely captures the sound and feeling closer to what the performance was like in the D.P. camps. One interesting change is that on the Birnbaum/Zevinka recording they sing “Royte armey” [Red army] and the Lubelskis sing “Bafrayte armey” [Liberated army]. Thanks this week to Alex Ashendorf, Abraham Lubelski for the recording and photo and to Eliezer Niborski for transcription help.

“Vu iz dus gesele?” Performed by Malka and Josef Lubelski

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2021 by yiddishsong

Vi iz dus gesele? / Where is the street?
A Holocaust adaptation written and sung by Malka and Josef Lubelsksi recorded by Abraham Lubelski, Bronx 1967

On the Lubelski family by  Abraham Lubelski

Malka (Male, Molly, Minska) Lubelski (1920 – 1996) was born in Lodz, Poland. She and her husband, Laibish Holcman, left Lodz in 1939, as the Nazis were invading, and headed East to the Soviet Union. With them was Malka’s sister, Chana, and her brother, Yasha. They were attempting to find Malka’s uncle in Ukraine.

They were diverted by Soviet authorities to Siberia, ending up in the town of Magnitogorsk. Here their son, Abram [Abraham], was born. They were finally given permission in 1941 to travel to their uncle’s home in Ukraine, arriving in Kharkov just as the Nazis invaded. They never reached their uncle and he was never heard from again. Laibish Holcman disappeared in 1941, soon after joining to fight with the defending Soviet Army.

They left behind their mother, a younger sister Ruth (Rivka) and three younger brothers, Motel, Laibel and Avrom. Malka, Chana, Yasha and Rivka survived the Holocaust. Their mother, Nacha, was taken from the Lodz ghetto and never heard from again. The three younger brothers also did not survive; one died in the ghetto and the other two died after being transported to Auschwitz. The four surviving siblings were reunited in 1946 in the Displaced Persons camp. All emigrated with their new families to the US in ’49-’50.

From Siberia, Malka and her son traveled on to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where Malka met Josef Lubelski (1906 – 1972) originally from Kalisz, Poland. Malka’s siblings, Chana and Yasha, also were able to travel to Tashkent. From there they returned west at the war’s end, searching for surviving family, Malka, Josef and Abram eventually making their way to the DP camp in Berlin. They transferred and were reunited with Rivka in the Leipheim, Germany DP camp. In the camp, Josef established a troupe and directed an ensemble of friends and actors. Josef and Malka sang duets and performed Yiddish monologues and Shakespeare. They were legally married in the DP camp in 1948.

As their son (Abram) I remember sitting in the front row of the theater watching their vaudeville performances and dramas with awe. Josef did classic “retsitatsyes” [recitations] often dressed like Charlie Chaplin or as a Jewish peddler making the audience laugh as he magically pulled things out from his long black overcoat and tried to sell a chicken here, pots and pans there or a “valgerholts” [rolling pin] with which to beat husbands.  They traveled to DP camps performing on week-ends and I cried if they left me behind so eventually they had me come along as the child actor in one or two Yiddish plays.

In 1950 they emigrated to the US. and performed their songs occassionaly at Workmen’s Circle gatherings. In 1967 I recorded Josef’s monologues and Molly and Josef singing duets. I remembered my mom sitting alone on the stage dressed in black mourning singing “Vu iz dos gesele,” “Tsen brider” and “Akhtszik er un zibetsik zi”, …. Never forgetting the warming spirit trying to revive the people around them.

More on the Lubelski family can be read in the two memoirs The Cage (1980) and To Life (2000) by Ruth Minsky Sender. 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Today’s post is the first of three songs performed by Molly and Josef Lubelski that we will post. We thought it particularly appropriate to post “Vi iz dus gesele” to mark Kristallnacht on Nov. 9th. Though these songs were recorded in 1967, two decades after the war, they still convey the emotional performance of the artists.

The Lubelskis sing a Holocaust themed adaptation of a popular song “Vu iz dos gesele”. Their son Abraham believes they created the text. I have not found it in collections of Holocaust Yiddish songs. The words and music to the original song can be found in the Mlotek collection Songs of Generations. There are also Ukrainian, Russian and Hebrew versions of the older song. 

Here is a link to an orchestrated version of the original song “Vu iz dos gesele” sung by Jan Peerce:

TRANSLITERATION, TRANSLATION & TRANSCRIPTION 
Folksong with new words by Malka and Josef Lubelski

Vi iz dus gesele? Vi iz di shtib?
Vi iz mayn mishpokhe, vus ikh hob azoy lib?
Nishtu shoyn dus gesl, tsebrokhn di shtib
farbrent mayn mishpokhe vus ikh hob azoy lib.
Nishtu shoyn dus gesl, tsebrokhn di shtib,
farbrent mayn mishpokhe vus ikh hob azoy lib.

Where is my street? Where is my house?
Where is my family that I onced loved?
The street is no more.The house is broken.
Burned up is the family that I loved so much.

Vi zenen di zingendike, tantsndike kinder?
Vi zenen zey ale atsinder?
Tserisn, tseshtokn, tsetsoygn.
Der mamen, der mamen, der mamen in di oygn. 
Tserisn, tseshtokn, tsetsoygn.
Der mamen, der mamen, der mamen in di oygn.

Where are the singing, dancing children?
Where are they now?
Torn, stabbed and pulled apart 
in their mothers’, their mother’s eyes.

Vi iz di shil? mitn gildenem orn-koydesh?
Der shabes, der yontif? rosh-khoydesh?
Farbrent iz di shil, farbrent oykh di sforim;
fun gantsn shtetl, geblibn iz bloyz kvorim. 
farbrent iz di shil, farbrent oykh di sforim,
fun gantsn shtetl, geblibn iz bloyz kvorim. 

Where is the synagogue with the golden Holy Ark?
The sabbath? The holiday? The beginning of each month?
The synagogue is burned down, as well as the holy books.
Of the whole town, only graves remain. 

Gekumen iz der tug far nekume far dem blut
far yedern gesl, far yederer shtub. 
Ot iz der tug – azoy zet er oys.
Ober der khezbn, der khesbn iz tsu groys.
Ot iz der tug – azoy zet er oys.
ober der khezhbn, der khesbn iz tsu groys.

The day for revenge has come for this blood,
for every street, for every house.
The day has come – this is how it looks.
But the reckoning, the reckoning is too great.

געזונגען און באַאַרבעט פֿון מלכּה און יוסף לובעלסקי

רעקאָרדירט פֿון אַבֿרהם לובעלסקי, בראָנקס 1967

?וווּ איז דאָס געסעלע? וווּ איז די שטוב
?וווּ איז מײַן משפּחה, וואָס איך האָב אַזוי ליב
,נישטאָ שוין דאָס געסל, צעבראָכן די שטוב
.פֿאַרברענט מײַן משפּחה וואָס איך האָב אַזוי ליב
,נישטאָ שוין דאָס געסל, צעבראָכן די שטוב
.פֿאַרברענט מײַן משפּחה וואָס איך האָב אַזוי ליב

?וווּ זענען די זינגענדיקע, טאַנצנדיקע קינדער
?וווּ זענען זיי אַצינדער
,צעריסן, צעשטאָכן און צעצויגן
.דער מאַמען, דער מאַמען, דער מאַמען אין די אויגן
,צעריסן, צעשטאָכן און צעצויגן
.דער מאַמען, דער מאַמען, דער מאַמען אין די אויגן

?וווּ איז די שיל מיטן גילדענעם אָרון־קודש
?דער שבת? דער יום־טובֿ? ראש־חודש
.פֿאַרברענט איז די שיל, פֿאַרברענט אויך די ספֿרים
.פֿון גאַנצן שטעטל געבליבן בלויז קבֿרים

,געקומען איז דער טאָג פֿאַר נקמה פֿאַר דעם בלוט
.פֿאַר יעדערן געסל, פֿאַר יעדערער שטוב
.אָט איז דער טאָג ־ אַזוי זעט ער אויס
.אָבער דער חשבון, דער חשבון איז צו גרויס

“Es dremlt in geto” Performed by Sara Rosen

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2021 by yiddishsong

Es dremlt in geto / The ghetto is sleeping
A Holocaust song sung by Sara Rosen, recorded by Itzik Gottesman, 1989 NYC.

………[Es dremlt in geto]

Mir zenen farriglt
mit drut un mit krad.
Ikh hob a shtetele, 
s’iż azoy sheyn. 
Ven ikh derman mekh,
es benkt zikh aheym.

…….[The ghetto is sleeping.]

We are locked in 
with wire and with chalk.
I have a small town, 
it’s so beautiful.
When I think of it,
I long to go home. 

Levune, levune, 
vus kiksti mekh un?
Az ikh bin hingerik,
dus geyt dikh nisht un.
Ikh hob a shtetele, 
s’iz azoy sheyn.
Ven ikh derman mekh,
es benkt zikh aheym. 

Moon, moon, 
why are you looking at me?
That I am hungry: 
you don’t care.
I have a small town,
it’s so beautiful.
When I think of it,
I long to go home.

Az m’et kimen fin arbet,
hingerik in mid,
Ervart indz dus esn,
kartofl mit gris. 
Ikh hob a shtetele,
s’iż azoy sheyn 
Ven ikh derman zikh,
es benkt zikh aheym.

When we’ll come from work, 
hungry and tired,
Food awaits us:
potato and grits
I have a small town,
it’s so beautiful.
When I think of it,
I long to go home. 

………   [ עס דרעמלט אין געטאָ]

מיר זענען פֿאַרריגלט
.מיט דראָט און מיט קרײַד
,איך האָב אַ שטעטעלע
.ס’איז אַזוי שיין
,ווען איך דערמאַן זיך
.עס בענקט זיך אַהיים

,לבֿנה, לבֿנה
?וואָס קוקסטו מיך אָן
,אַז איך בין הונגעריק
.דאָס גייט דיך נישט אָן
,איך האָב אַ שטעטעלע
.ס’איז אַזוי שיין
,ווען איך דערמאַן זיך
.עס בענקט זיך אַהיים

,אַז מע’ט קומען פֿון דער אַרבעט
,הונגעריק און מיד
,ערוואַרט אונדז דאָס עסן
.קאַרטאָפֿל מיט גריס
,איך האָב אַ שטעטעלע
.ס’איז אַזוי שיין
,ווען איך דערמאַן זיך
.עס בענקט זיך אַהיים

Biography of the Singer Sara Rosen by Mickey Rosen:

Sara Landerer Rosen was born in Krakow, Poland in 1925 into a Chasidic family.  She experienced an idyllic childhood until September 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, initiating World War II. The war truncated Sara’s formal education at the end of eighth grade but it didn’t stop her thirst for learning. Sara took advantage of every opportunity available; in the ghetto, in British Mandate Palestine and later, in the State of Israel and finally in the USA. In 1977, Sara graduated from Fordham University with a BA in Philosophy.  

Sara Rosen

Sara was a prolific write, publishing her memoir My Lost World in 1993. In 2008, she published Prisoner of Memory, the life story of Itka Greenberg. Itka saved about 50 Jews during World War II, with Sara and her mother being two of the fortunate survivors. In between these two books, Sara translated the songs of Mordechai Gebirtig from Yiddish to English. Sara loved speaking and singing in Yiddish and remembered many of poems and songs from her youth.

Sara emigrated to the USA in 1956 with her husband, Joseph and two sons. Her family grew in the USA with the birth of a daughter. 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

Es dremlt in shtetl

This song is a Holocaust adaptation of the popular 1920s-30s song “Ven es dremlt in shtetl” (also known as “Es dremlt/drimlt dos shtetl” or “Es dremlt dos shtetl”); text written by Yoysef Heftman (1888 – 1955), music by Gershon Eskman. There are several recordings of this song, among them by Sarah Gorby, Michele Tauber, Willi Brill, Violette Szmajer, Sheh-Sheh, Zahava Seewald. Here is a link to a recording by the singer Rebecca Kaplan and tsimbler Pete Rushefsky from their CD On The Paths: Yiddish Songs with Tsimbl.

Ruth Rubin recorded a version from a “Mrs. Hirshberg” in 1947. It is called “Es dremlt a shtetele” and here is the link to the song in the Ruth Rubin Legacy: Archive of Yiddish Folksongs at the YIVO Institute. 

Es dremlt in turme

Before the war, there already was a “parody” version of this song about languishing in prison. “Es dremlt in turme” [The prison is sleeping]. The words and music are printed in the “Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs” edited by Sinai Leichter, scans of this song are attached.

Ruth Rubin sings a version of this prison song in YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive.

Es dremlt in geto

Sara Rosen learned this song in Bucharest after she escaped from the Bochnia ghetto near Krakow. Though she forgets the first two lines, it is cleary an adaptation of “Es dremlt in shtetl”. There are several versions of this song using the same melody, but they all differ so significantly from each other, that to call them versions of the same song is a stretch. Meir Noy wrote down a version “Shtil is in geto” in his notebooks that can be found in the National Library in Jerusalem. Another version can be found in the collection “Dos lid fun geto: zamlung” edited by Ruta Pups, Warsaw, 1962. A scan of this version is attached. A third version was printed in the collection “We Are Here: Songs of the Holocaust”, edited by Eleanor G. Mlotek et al, 1983.

Special thanks for this post to Mickey Rosen, Rachel Rosen, Michael Alpert, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, her grandchildren the musicians Benjy Fox-Rosen, Avi Fox-Rosen.

I was introduced to Sara Rosen in 1989 by the Yiddish/Hebrew singer Tova Ronni z”l  (d. 2006) who lived in the same Upper West Side apartment building in NYC. That same day she introduced me to another singer in the building, David Shear, who sings “An ayznban a naye” on this blog. 

From Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs” edited by Sinai Leichter:

From Dos lid fun geto: zamlung, edited by Ruta Pups, Warsaw, 1962:

“Farges dem tsar” Performed by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2020 by yiddishsong

Farges dem tsar/Forget Your Sorrows
Music by Johannes Strauss ll (1804 – 1849), sung by Sara Nomberg – Przytyk
Recorded by Wolf Krakowski, Way’s Mills, Quebec, Canada, 1986

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

For the next three weeks Yiddish Song of the Week will feature field recordings of the singer Sara Nomberg-Przytyk, videotaped by Yiddish singer, songwriter and musican Wolf Krakowski in 1986. Click here for Krakowski’s reminiscences about about Nomberg-Przytyk. This week we present “Farges dem tsar” [“Forget Your Sorrows”].

Nomberg-Przytyk was born in Lublin, September 10, 1921 and died in Israel in 1996. She is known for her Holocaust memoirs, translated into English as Auschwitz: True Tales From a Grotesque Land. In Auschwitz she was an attendant in Dr. Mengele’s hospital and worked with him on a daily basis.

For a more detailed article in English on her life click here; an article on her life and song in Yiddish is here.

As she says to introduce this song, she learned Farges  dem tsar from her friend who was in the Vilbig (Vilner yidishe bildungs-gezelshaft) Vilna Jewish Education Society) chorus in Vilna which was conducted by Avrom Sliep (1884 – 1942)

Screenshot 2020-05-21 at 11.34.58 AMVilbig Choir, 1929, E. Cejtlin/YIVO Archives

The video includes a translation, but the second line should be translated as “Don’t look how the skies are black”.

TRANSLITERATION

Oysgelernt di lid – S’iz oykhet a lid Farges dem tsar fun Vilbig. Un di ale lider hob ikh gehert fun mayns a khaverte, mit velkher ikh bin gezitsn tsuzamen far der krig in tfise far politishe teytikaytn.  

Zi’s geven a mitgliderin fun dem khor un zi hot di lid far undz gezingen.

Farges dem tsar, der tsar fargeyt.
Mir darfn leybn nor far freyd.
Bafrayt zikh ale glaykh
Dos lebn iz far aykh.

Nisht kuk vos s’iz der himl shvarts.
Di zun geyt oyf, derfray dis harts.
un brengt indz ale mut
in der royshnde yunge blut.

Kuk zikh um sara prakht.
Alts arum iz shtil fartrakht
zingt mayn harts gur alayn.
Akh vi sheyn iz dus leybn vi sheyn.

Zey vi se blit, Zey vi es glit.
Zol zhe klingen indzer lid.
Iber berg, iber tol
Lebn mir nor ayn mul, nor ayn mul.

The Israeli Yiddish song collector and researcher Meir Noy included this song in one of his notebooks of Yiddish songs located in the music department at the Israeli National Library in Jerusalem. Below is attached that page which has the melody, the words in Yiddish and an additional verse. Noy notes that the melody comes from three Johann Strauss ll works: “Wein, Weib und Gesang” “Wiener blut” “Morgenblatter Waltz””:

Noy Journal 19 pp107-108 for Itzik-page-0Noy Journal 19 pp107-108 for Itzik-page-1

“Ikh bin geboyrn simkhes pirem” Performed by Matele Friedman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2020 by yiddishsong

Ikh bin geboyrn simkhes pirem/ I Was Born During the Celebration of Purim
Sung by Matele Friedman, recording by Mark David.
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week’s song was contributed by Mark David, director of the long running Boston Yiddish radio show Dos yidishe kol. He writes about the singer:

Margaret (Matele) Friedman was born in 1927, in the village Groys-Kinyat (גרויס-קיניאַט), now Великі Ком’яти (Velyki Kom’yaty), Carpathian mountains, Ukraine. She was deported to Auschwitz with her family from the Munkacs (Hungary) ghetto in spring 1944. She learned her repertoire as a child before the Holocaust. Friedman currently lives in Los Angeles.

Martele Friedman - closup - Frame-21-01-2020-11-31-15Matele Friedman (photo: Mark David)

The song Ikh bin geboyrn simkhes pirem was written and composed by her musical family.

An interview with her in Yiddish in which she tells of her life and sings this song and others was broadcast on January 20, 2020 on my Boston Yiddish podcast Yiddish Voice/Dos yidishe kol (click here to listen). The interview with Friedman begins at 10:45 minutes. She sings Ikh bin geboyrn at 28:54. Please note that the first time she sings the refrain she accidentally repeats a line. This is corrected in the next two refrains.

Musician and scholar Hankus Netsky has produced several concerts based on the song repertoire of Moyshe Hollander, Friedman’s cousin.

Thanks for help with this week’s post to Martele Friedman, Mark David, David Braun, Janina Wurbs and Steffen Krogh. – Itzik Gottesman

Some transcription notes:
“ey” = “a” as in made.
“ay” = “i” as in “nine”
“ow” = “o” as in “no”

As usual in this blog, the transcription reflects the singer’s dialect. The lyrics written in Yiddish are in standard “YIVO” Yiddish.

Kh’bin geboryn simkhes-pirem [Tomer her ikh muzik shpiln]

VERSE ONE

Kh’bin geboyrn simkhes-pirem,
freylekh bin ikh derfar.
Ikh es in trink in tants in shpring
in trowerik zayn zogar.

Es ken zayn a shnay.
Ikh tants in shray “hura!”
Tomer her ikh muzik shpiln
miz ikh tantsn glaykh.

REFRAIN

Tomer her ikh muzik shpiln
Kik ikh of kayn zakh.
Kowm hob ikh nor muzik derhert
kik ikh of kayn zakh.

Es geyt mir ariber a growl in mayn kerper.
Mayne nervn vern tseglit.
Akh krig di hits in tants in shvits
in her di muzik shpiln…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

VERSE TWO

Akh kim arayn tsu ayn razirer
oprazirn mikh.
Er zetst mikh anider of deym benkl
un zayft mikh ayn gants gikh.

Der razirer haybt mikh un tsi razirn
her ikh vi di muzik shpilt.
Ikh hayb un tsi tantsn of deym benkl
A shnit hob ikh derfilt.

Der razirer kikt mikh un.
Er vayst nisht vus tsi tun.
Er freygt mikh glaykh “Vus iz mit aykh?”
Zug ikh, dus iz mayn shiguen.

REFRAIN

Tomer her ikh muzik shpiln
Muz ikh tantsn glaykh.
Kowm hob ikh nor muzik derhert
kik ikh of kayn zakh.

Es geyt mir ariber a growl in mayn kerper.
Mayne nervn vern tseglit.
Akh krig di hits in tants in shvits
in her di muzik shpiln…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

VERSE THREE

Mayn shviger, zol lebn, i’ mir geshtorbn.
Nekhtn vert a vokh.
Gegangen bin ikh of der levaye,
a klug of deym brokh.

Balayt hob ikh mayn toyte shviger
biz tsi der royter brik.
Plitsling her ikh dort shpiln
a freylekh, listik shtik.

Herts vus s’iz gesheyn.
Ikh tants in shray hura!
Di levaye in gantsn haybt un tsi tantsn
gib ikh ayn geshray!

REFRAIN

Tomer her ikh muzik shpiln
Muz ikh tantsn glaykh.
Kowm hob ikh nor muzik derhert
kik ikh of kayn zakh.

Es geyt mir ariber a growl in mayn kerper.
Mayne nervn vern tseglit.
Akh krig di hits in tants in shvits
in her di muzik shpiln…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

TRANSLATION

I Was Born During The Celebration of Purim

VERSE ONE

I was born during the celebration of Purim;
therefore I am so happy.
I eat and drink and dance and jump,
and am even sad.

Even if it snowed
I would dance and yell “hurrah!”
If I should hear music playing
I must dance right away.

REFRAIN

If I should hear music playing
I don’t look at anything else.
As soon as I hear the music,
I don’t look at anything else.

A shudder goes through my body.
My nerves become red hot.
I get fever and dance and sweat
and hear the music playing…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

VERSE TWO

I go into a barber
for a shave.
He sits me down on the chair
and lathers me up quite fast.

The barber starts to shave me,
when I hear the music playing.
I start to dance on the chair
and felt a sudden cut.

The barber looks at me.
He knows not what to do,
He asks me “What”s with you?”
I say, this is my craziness.

REFRAIN

If I should hear music playing
I must dance straight away.
As soon as I hear the music
I don’t look at anything else.

A shudder goes through my body.
My nerves become red hot.
I get fever and dance and sweat
and hear the music playing…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

VERSE THREE

My mother-in-law, may she live, has died.
It happened eight days ago.
I went to the funeral.
I lament such a tragedy.

I accompanied my dead mother-in-law
up to the red bridge.
Suddenly I hear there playing
a joyous, merry tune.

Listen to what happened:
I dance and yell “hurrah!”
The entire funeral starts to dance,
so I cry out:

REFRAIN

If I should hear music playing
I must dance straight away.
As soon as I hear the music
I don’t look at anything else.

A shudder goes through my body.
My nerves become red hot.
I get fever and dance and sweat
and hear the music playing…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

tomer1tomer2tomer3

“Zishe Breitbart” Performed by Yitzchak Milstein

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2020 by yiddishsong

Zishe Breitbart Sung by Yitzchak Milstein
Recorded by Toby Blum-Dobkin, 2/19/1977, Brooklyn NY. 

Commentary by Toby Blum-Dobkin. Song lyrics and transcription appear at the end of the post, including Milstein’s opening and closing spoken remarks. 

About the Singer Yitzchak Milstein

I first recorded Yitzchak Milstein singing the ballad of Zishe Breitbart in 1973, when I interviewed Mr. Milstein for the YIVO Yiddish Folksong Project, directed by Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. The project team aimed to define and document Yiddish musical specialists and to compose portraits of such individuals [Blum-Dobkin 1975]. I again recorded the song in 1977, when I wrote an article about Zishe as a folk hero. I translated the song into English, and also transliterated it to reflect features of Milstein’s Yiddish pronunciation [Blum-Dobkin 1978].  

MilsteinPhoto

Yitzchak Milstein

I conducted ten interviews with Yitzchak Milstein for the Yiddish Folksong Project, between 2/27/1973 and 9/18/1974.  Each interview lasted approximately 90 minutes. All the interviews were conducted in Yiddish, with some songs and narrative in other languages. I translated portions of the interviews and songs into English, directly from the recordings. Bella Gottesman transcribed all the interviews and songs in Yiddish, also directly from the recordings. 

Mr. Milstein was born in Shidlovtse (Szidlowiec), Poland, in 1914. His mother Rokhl had a booth of ‘galenterye’ at the shtetl market. His father Motek (Mordkhe) was a ‘holts tokazh’ – a wood turner. Yitzchak worked as a tailor in Shidlovtse and seasonally in Warsaw. His childhood home was filled with music. He remarked, “In our home, almost everyone sang. . . were there better entertainments?. . . I remember that my father had a ‘liderbikhl’ – a Yiddish song book..  [with songs about] city girls and farmers’ girls…When my father was young he also acted in the drama circle, in [Goldfaden’s] Di Kishefmakherin – The Sorceress.” Even when Yitzchak’s father became more religious, he did not forbid Yitzchak from attending performances and acting in amateur dramatics. Yitzchak remembered that his father “said it was ‘b’yerushe’ – part of my legacy.”  The family had a mandolin, and Yitzchak learned by observing others.

In 1942 Yitzchak Milstein was forced into labor at the Skarszysko Hasag camp, and was subsequently incarcerated in several other Nazi camps. He was liberated in April 1945 and housed in the Displaced Persons camp in Feldafing, Germany. He emigrated to the the US in 1950 and settled in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, resuming work in his trade of tailoring.  He also resumed his avocation, singing. Mr. Milstein’s other avocation was keeping the memory of his shtetl Shidlovtse alive. He was active in the effort to publish Shidlovtse’s ‘yizker bukh’ – memorial book – for which he created artwork and essays  [Milstein 1974]. For Yitzchak Milstein, it was a matter of pride to reproduce a performance or song ‘genoy’ – as correctly and faithfully as possible. “I am a tape recorder,” he explained to me.

The Song ‘Zishe Breitbart’ 

Yitzchak Milstein had heard the ballad of Zishe Breitbart in the 1920’s from a ‘hoyfzinger’ – a street singer in Shidlovtse. The text of the ballad along with pictures of Zishe Breitbart were sold by street singers in broadside form. I am indebted to Chana Gordon Mlotek for directing me to other versions of the Breitbart song, and for pointing out the elements that the Breitbart ballad had in common with traditional ballads [Mlotek 1974].

PhotoBreitbart

Zishe (Sigemund) Breitbart

Zishe (Siegmund) Breitbart, son of a blacksmith, was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1883. His fame was based both on his physical strength and his unique personality. He toured widely, and in 1923 performed for the Keith vaudeville theaters in New York. The New York Times reported on Breitbart’s 1923 arrival in the United States:

“Among other feats of strength he claims to be able to lift ten or twelve persons with his hands, twist bars of iron like scraps of paper, crack Brazil nuts between his fingers, and haul a wagon with ten persons along the road by his teeth.” The article notes that Breitbart “says he is so sensitive that he would walk into the roadway to avoid trading upon a worm. . . he likes music and writes poems, but doesn’t like prize fighting. He declined an offer received by telegram at the pier to go to Saratoga Springs and have a tryout with Jack Dempsey, the heavyweight champion. ‘For me it is not,’ the strong man of Poland said.” [New York Times 1923].  

Breitbart’s death at the age of forty-two apparently resulted from blood poisoning initially contracted during a performance in Radom, Poland, when he scratched or punctured his leg with a nail.  He died in Berlin in 1925.

Zishe Breitbart’s crowd-pleasing persona and sense of mission as a Jewish hero made a lasting impression [Blum-Dobkin 1978; Bart 2014; Gillerman 2010].  He appeared in the silent film [Der Eisenkoenig 1923] and is the subject of a feature film [Invincible 2001].  It has even been posited that Zishe Breitbart was an inspiration for the character of Superman [Gordon 2011]. 

Milstein Comments

From Khane & Yosl Mlotek’s Song of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song (Workmens Circle, 2004):

Breitbart1Breitbart2Breitbart3

Selected Sources:

Bart, Gary.  Interviewed by Christina Whitney,  Wexler Oral History Project, National Yiddish Book Center, Amherst MA, November 21, 2014.

Blum-Dobkin, Toby.  “Case Study of a Traditional Yiddish Folksinger.” Unpublished paper, 1975.

Blum-Dobkin, Toby.  “Zishe, the Yiddish Samson.”  The Parade of Heroes: Legendary Figures in American Lore.” edited by  Tristram Potter Coffin and Hennig Cohen, Anchor Press, Garden City NY, 1978: 206-213, 557-558.

Der Eisenkönig.  Film directed by Max Neufeld, 1923. 

Gillerman, Sharon.  “The Strongest Man in the World.” YIVO Encyclopedia, 2010.

Gordon, Mel.  “Step Right Up and Meet the World’s Mightiest Human: A Jewish Strongman from Poland who Some Say Inspired the Creation of Superman.”  Reform Judaism, Summer 2011.  

Invincible.  Film directed by Werner Herzog, 2001.

Milstein, Yitzchak.  “Khronik fun khurbn in Shidlovtse.”  Shidlovtser Yizker Bukh/Yizkor Book Szydlowiec, edited by Berl Kagan  Shidlovtser Benevolent Association, NY (1974): 344-368.

Mlotek, Chana Gordon.  “Perl fun der yidisher poezye.” Forverts 1973.The New York Times August 27, 1923.

 

“S’vet nit eybik fintster zayn” Performed by David Fishman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2019 by yiddishsong

S’vet nit eybik fintster zayn / It will not be dark forever
A song in Yiddish, Hebrew and Hungarian.
Sung by Professor David Fishman, recorded by Itzik Gottesman,
June  7th, 2019, NYC

*There are two parts to this song– please watch the video, then listen to the audio that follows for the song’s conclusion:

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

This one-verse song in three languages was learned by Dr Fishman on a visit to Budapest in 1972.

David Fishman is professor of  history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, NYC. His recent work The Book Smugglers won the 2018 National Jewish Book Award in the “Holocaust” category. He was born in the Bronx.

Fishman introduces the song by saying in Yiddish “A very simple song, but very sad”. The Polish/Hungarian Yiddish/Hebrew dialect is reflected in a few words such as: “lekhtik” instead of “likhtik”, “bimhayru” instead of “bimheyro”.

After the initial recording on video, Fishman later realized he had forgotten the ending of the song and sent the Yiddish concluding lines as an audio file.

“S’vet nit” was discussed in Yiddish on a Hasidic on-line forum in 2010. There the song is attributed to the Kaliver/Kalover/Kalever Rebbe, and it is also mentioned there that the Tosh Hasidic community still sings it at Purim. Tosh and Kaliv are both Hasidic dynasties with Hungarian roots. Here is a link to that on-line Yiddish discussion.

kalov shul
The Kalover Shul in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Google Street View)

The version mentioned there by “Khaykl” differs slightly and does not include the concluding lines about Jerusalem that Dr. Fishman added as an audio. “Khaykl” suggests that the composer of the song was the Kaliver rebbe (Yitskhok Isaac Taub 1751 – 1821) who was known for his compositions.

Thanks this week to David Fishman, Bob Cohen, Arun Viswanath and Bret Werb. 

Transliteration of Yiddish on video:
S’vet nit, s’vet nit, s’vet nit
eybik fintster zayn. (2x)
S’vet nit eybik fintster zayn
S’vet amol nokh lekhtik zayn.
S’vet nit, s’vet nit, s’vet nit
eybik fintster zayn.

Translation of Yiddish on video:
It will not be dark forever.
One day it will be light.
It will not be dark forever.

Transliteration of Hebrew:
Yiye loy, yiye loy, yiye loy
leoylem afaylu
Loy yiye, loy yiye, loy yiye leoylem afaylu,
Loy yiye leoylem afaylu
Yiye or bimhayru
Yiye or, yiye or bimhayru

Translation of Hebrew:
It will not be dark forever.
Very soon it will be light.
Very soon it will be light.

Transliteration of Hungarian:
Nem lesz, nem lesz, nem lesz mindig éjszaka
Ha nem lesz mindig éjszaka
majd megvirrad valaha.

Translation of Hungarian:
It won’t always be night.
It will soon be dawn.

Audio conclusion to song (Yiddish):
Ale yidelekh in aynem
trinkt zhe a lekhayim.
Leshone habu beyerushelayim!

Translation of conclusion:
All the Jews together
let’s drink a toast –
Next year in Jerusalem!
fishman1