Archive for humour

“Reb Tsudek” Performed by Itzik Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2018 by yiddishsong

Reb Tsudek
Sung by Itzik Gottesman, recorded Nov 2018, Austin TX

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I was asked to post the song “Reb Tsudek” as sung by the Yiddish poet Martin Birnbaum. He sang it to Michael Alpert and me in 1984-85 in NYC.  But, alas, I cannot find the original recording so I have recorded it myself.

Birnbaum was born in 1905 in Horodenke when it was Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Now it is in the Ukraine  – Horodenka. According to a NY Times obituary he came to the US in 1923 and died in 1986. In the YIVO Institute’s Ruth Rubin Legacy Archive, Birnbaum sings four songs but not this one. Those recordings were done in 1964.

I believe there is more Yiddish folklore to be discovered about this shlimazel (bad luck) character Reb Tsudek. When I asked the Yiddish poet Yermye Hescheles about him he affirmed that there was such a comic figure in Galicia, where both he and Birnbaum were from.

The song mocks the Hasidic lifestyle – absurd devotion to the rebbe, irresponsibility, staying poor. The word “hiltay” – defined by the dictionaries as “libertine” “skirt-chaser” “scoundrel” – is really a cue that this is a 19th century maskilic, anti-Hasidic, song. The word is often used in such songs. The humor also hinges on the double meaning of tsimbl both as a musical instrument (a hammered dulcimer) and as a verb – “to thrash or scold someone”.

couple tsimblA tsimblist, about to be thrashed by his wife.
(courtesy Josh Horowitz)

In the song two towns are mentioned: Nay Zavalek remains a mystery but Grudek, west of Lviv, is Grodek in Polish and Horodok in Ukrainian.

Here is a clip of Michael Alpert singing  the song, with Pete Rushefsky on tsimbl, Jake Shulman-Ment on violin and Ethel Raim singing at the Smithsonian Folkife Festival in Washington D.C.,  2013:

TRANSLITERATION

Fort a yid keyn Nay-zavalek,
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Fort a yid tsu zayn rebn – Reb Tsudek.
Tsudek iz a yid, a lamden.
Er hot a boykh a tsentn,
Un s’iz bakant, az er ken shpiln
of ale instrumentn.

Shpilt er zikh derbay (2x)

Fort a yid keyn Nay-zavalek
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!
Fort a yid keyn Nay-Zavalek
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!

Un Reb Tsudek, er zol lebn,
hot gehat a gutn shabes.
Tsudek hot gekhapt shirayem,
mit beyde labes.
Aheymgebrakht hot er zayn vaybl
a zhmenye meyern-tsimes.
Un dertsu, oy vey iz mir,
a tsimbl un strines.

“Hiltay vus iz dus!” (2x)

Oy hot zi getsimblt Tsudek
fun Zavalek bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!
Oy hot zi getsimblt Tsudek
fun Zavalek bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!

TRANSLATION

A man travels to Nay-Zavalek,
directly until Grudek.
The man is traveling to his rabbi,
Mister Tsudek.
Tsudek is a learned man,
and has a belly that weighs ten tons.
And everyone knows that he can play
on all the instruments.

So he plays as he travels –

A man travels to Nay-Zavalek
directly until Grudek,
Oh my, dear God!
A man travels to Nay-Zavalek
directly until Grudek,
Oh my, dear God!

And Reb Tsudek, may he be well,
had a good Sabbath.
Tsudek caught the Rebbe’s holy leftovers
with both paws [large, rough hands].
For his wife he brought home
a handful of carrot – tsimmes,
and in addition – oh no! –
a tsimbl with no strings.

Scoundrel! what is this? (2x)

Boy did she thrash Tsudek
from Zavalek until Grudek
Oh my, dear God.
Boy did she thrash Tsudek
from Zavalek unti Grudek
Oh my, dear God

tsudek1

tsudek2

tsudek3

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“Der shadkhn” Performed by Clara Crasner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Ethel Raim

Der shadkhn (The Matchmaker) is a humorous song describing the special skills that a shadkhn needs for his trade. The performer, Clara Crasner, was a truly marvelous singer who possessed a vast repertoire of Yiddish songs. I only regret never having met her or having heard her sing in person. We’re so fortunate that her son-in-law, Bob Freedman, made a recording of her singing in 1972. Clara’s singing is wonderful – feisty, straight forward and yet beautifully nuanced, and narrative to the core.

Picture of Clara Crasner with her daughter Molly Freedman

Here’s an excerpt of Crasner’s biography written by her daughter, Molly Freedman:

“My mother Clara Fireman Crasner was born in 1902 in Shargorod, not far from Vinnitsa, in the Ukraine. She learned many Yiddish songs as a child in the shtetl. She left Shargorod in 1919, stayed in Romania with relatives for two years, (and learned more songs there) while waiting for immigration papers from an older brother in New Jersey. My mother was always singing Yiddish folk songs at home while she did her housework. She knew many, many songs and I learned the songs from her as a child. Clara lived in Philadelphia until about 1970 and then moved to Miami Beach, where she was part of a group of senior citizens who had a regular Yiddish singing session on the beach every day. My husband recorded Clara in 1972 at our home in Philadelphia. She was just singing her favorite songs from memory. She came back to Philadelphia in the mid-80s and lived at the Jewish Geriatric Center where she continued to sing, sometimes alone and also with other seniors. She lived to be 97 and often would remember songs that we had not heard before, while we were driving in the car…  She was the inspiration for my love of Yiddish music and my husband and I continue to collect and share our music through our website at the University of Pennsylvania.”

Click the following link for the The Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Sound Archive.

Itzik Gottesman adds:

A version of the song “Der shadkhn” can be found in the book Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin, page 82-83. There it is called “A shadkhn darf men kenen zayn” and the melody is printed on page 82. Rubin writes that the song originates from the pen of Avrom Goldfaden. The words are somewhat different.

Ethel Raim, Michael Alpert and I traveled to the Yiddish Summer Weimar program the last week of July (2010) to teach traditional unaccompanied Yiddish folksong style – the focus of this blog. Ethel and Michael taught the vocal style, and I spoke on the songs and singers of this tradition. I believe this was, if not the first, then one of the first attempts to pass on this tradition to a new generation of singers, and kudos to Alan Bern, director of Yiddish Summer Weimar, who also co-taught, for his suggestion and decision to teach this. The students were seriously interested in learning the songs and style and were wonderful. Ethel taught another of Clara Crasner’s songs in her class at Weimar “A meydl in di yorn.”

Di lid hot mayn shvegerin gezungen; zi’s a Malover, Podolyer gubernye. Mayn shvegerun un mayn brider zingen es.
Zey zogn az zeyer futer hot es zey oysgelernt, mit a sakh yurn tsurik. Di lid heyst “der shadkhn.”

This song was sung by my sister-in-law. She is from Malov, Podolye. My sister-in-law and my brother sing it.
They say that their father taught it to them many years ago. The song is called “Der shadkhn.”

A shadkhn tsi zayn iz a gute zakh.
Es iz fun Got a brukhe.
Me makht zikh a bisele kushere gelt.
Un me tit nit keyn groyse melukhe.

To be a matchmaker is a good thing.
It is a blessing from G-d.
One earns a little honest money.
And you don’t have to work too hard.

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un az di mekhiteyniste vil nit di kale
darf men ir makhn meshige
Me darf ir azoy dem kop fardreyen
Zi zol shrayen gevold zi’s a klige!

And if the mother-in-law doesn’t want the bride,
You have to make her go crazy.
You should drive her so nuts,
That she yells “Wow, she’s is a smart one”.

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un az der mekhitin vil nisht dem khusn.
Darf men im makhn dil.
Me darf im azoy dem kop fardreyen
Er zol shrayen “Gevald ikh vil!”

And if the father-in-law doesn’t want the groom,
You should make him batty.
You should drive him so nuts
that he yells “Wow, I want!”

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un az di kale iz finef un tsvantsik yor alt
Fregt der khusn mir.
Zug ikh im az zi’s akhtsin yur
un dus iberike halt ikh mir.

And if the bride is 25 years old
and the groom asks me about it.
I tell him that she’s only 18,
and the leftover years, I will keep for myself.

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un biz ikh nem up dus shadkhones-gelt
Tserays ikh tsvey pur shikh.
Un az ikh nem up dus shadkhones-gelt.
Khapt zey ale dus riekh.

By the time I pick up the matchmaker fee
I tear up two pairs of shoes.
And when I finally pick up the matchmaker fee,
The devil take them all!

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.