Archive for immigrant

“Shikhelekh” Performed by Gertrude Singer and Manya Bender

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2021 by yiddishsong

“שיכעלעך/Shikhelekh/Shoes” – An early American Yiddish theater song that crossed the Atlantic and came back. First version sung by Gertrude Singer, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore 1979 from the archive of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Second version sung by Manya Bender, recorded by Ruth Rubin 1950, NYC, found at the Ruth Rubin Archive, YIVO.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

“Shikhelekh” a song about a boy in an immigrant family desperate to get a new pair of shoes, is interesting because there are two versions: one with a sad ending and one with a happy ending.

The older version, 5 verses long, with the sadder ending was first printed in the 1897 compilation Di yidishe bine, ed. J. KatzenelenbogenNY. (A scan is attached). In this version the boy complains he cannot go to school barefoot and asks his father to buy a pair of shoes in the store next to his school. The song concludes with the father, “powerless”, crying together with the boy. This version was reprinted with the title “Papa mit dem shikhele” no date, in American Yiddish Penny Songs edited by Jane Peppler, 2015. (scan attached). We have not yet found recordings of this older version.

The newer version ( approx. 1916) with a “happy ending” concludes with a verse that relates how that young barefoot boy is now a lawyer and the girl he is with, playing “fortepian”, is his bride. The final refrain is:

Nu, Papa do you remember how eight years ago,
when I cried and begged you to buy me a pair of shoes.
Now I am a lawyer, and will make you happy for all of your years.

The singer, Gertrude Singer (1900 – 1979), recounts how she sang it often on the ship coming to America from Warsaw. In the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO, Manye Bender who learned the song in Bessarabia  “on the way to America.” also sings the new version.  Click here for her performance, beginning with the line “In droysn iz fintster”. 

The transcription, translation and Yiddish of both versions follows below.

It is not clear who the composer is of the older “unhappy” version. The Mloteks point out in their Forverts newspaper column that in the collection “Di yidishe bine” it is placed right after Morris Rosenfeld poems but it does not appear in his collected works. In the column on June 20, 1976, the music as remembered by a reader is also printed.

The later-adapted revision with the happy ending was the work of the singer Josef/Joseph Feldman around 1916. On a song sheet for “Shichalach” as sung by Moishe Oisher (no date), the words are credited to singer Joseph (Josef) Feldman (scans attached). But on page two, it is written “Version by Jos Feldman”, acknowledging his text as a revision of an earlier song. On a 78 rpm record (1916) Josef Feldman recorded it and one can hear it at the Florida Atlantic University “Recorded Sound Archives”

In 1938, Joseph Feldman published the Joseph Feldman’s Yiddish Theaterical Magaizine. The verses and music are published here.

The happy vs. sad ending of “Shikhelekh”  brings up an interesting point: could the generation after the original 1890s version no longer accept such a sad ending, and thus inspire the happy, nostalgic song conclusion of 1916?

Thanks this week to Jane Peppler, Steven Lasky and his Museum of the Yiddish Theater, the YIVO Sound Archives and the Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University. 

TRANSLITERATION, TRANSLATION and YIDDISH

Shikhelekh sung by Gertrude Singer, recorded in 1979.

1 ) In droysn is fintster, in droysn iz nas,
un du gey ikh borves, ikh ken nisht geyn in gas.
Papa, ikh beyt mir far dir azoy fil mul.
koyf mir a pur shikhelekh. Ikh ken nisht geyn in “skul.”
Oy papa, di zolst dir oysbeytn a git yur.
Koyf mir, papele, shikhelekh a pur.  
Oy, koyf mir, papele, shikhelekh a pur.

2) Der papa blaybt shteyn mit a troyern [troyerik] geveyn
biz zayne trern faln afn kind aleyn.
“Kind mayns, du veyst vi azey ikh hob dikh lib.
Tsulib dayne shikhelekh vel ikh farpanen a kishn fun shtib.
Oy kind mayns, mir zoln shoyn nisht hobn mer keyn noyt.
Tsulib dayne shikhelekh hob [iz nishto] ikh nishto keyn broyt.
Orem mayn kind iz nokh erger vi der toyt.”

3) In di tsayt flit avek un es iz shoyn akht yur
Kik on [?] dem boychik, er vert shoyn a “loyer.”
Dort zitst a meydele vos zi shpilt pian.
Me zugt az dos meydele vet dem loyer’s kale zayn.
Nu, papa, gedenkstu tsurik mit akht yur
ven ikh hob dikh gebeytn far shikhelekh a pur.
Yetst bin ikh loyer un ikh makh dikh glikekh 
af ale dayne yor.

1) Outside it’s dark; outside it’s wet,
and I am walking barefoot; I can’t go in the street.
Papa, I’ve asked you so many times
to buy me a pair of shoes. I can’t go to school.
Oy papa, may you succeed in praying for a good year.
Buy me, papa, a pair of shoes
Oy, buy me, dear papa, a pair of shoes

2) Papa remains standing with a sad weeping,
until his tears drop on his child.
“My child, you know how much I love you:
because of your shoes, there is no bread.
To be poor is worse than death.”

3)  Time flies and it’s eight years later.
Look at the boy [?] – he is soon to be a  lawyer.
There sits a girl who plays grand piano.
They say that she will be the lawyer’s bride.
So, papa, remember eight years ago
when I begged you for a pair of shoes?
Now I am a lawyer and I will make you happy
all of your years.

שיכעלעך 
געזונגען פֿון גערטרוד זינגער
רעקאָרדירט פֿון גערטרוד ניצבערג
.אין דרויסן איז פֿינצטער, אין דרויסן אין נאַס

.און דאָ גיי איך באָרוועס, איך קען נישט גיין אין גאַס
,פּאַפּאַ, איך בעט מיר פֿאַר דיר אַזוי פֿיל מאָל
.קויף מיר אַ פּאָר שיכעלעך. איך קען נישט קיין אין סקול
.אוי, פּאַפּאַ, דו זאָלסט דיר אויסבעטן אַ גוט יאָר
.קויף מיר, פּאַפּעלע, שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
“.אוי, קויף מיר, פּאַפּעלע, שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר

דער פּאַפּאַ בלײַבט שטיין מיט אַ טרויעריק געוויין
.ביז זײַנע טרערן פֿאַלֹן אויפֿן קינד אַליין
.קינד מײַנס, דו ווייסט ווי אַזוי איך האָב דיך ליב”
.צוליב דײַנע שיכעלעך, וועל איך פֿאַרפּאַנען אַ קישן פֿון שטוב
.אוי, קינד מײַנס, מיר זאָלן שוין נישט האָבן מער קיין נויט
.צוליב דײַנע שיך איז נישטאָ קיין ברויט
“.אָרעם, מײַן קינד, איז נאָך ערגער ווי דער טויט
און די צײַט פֿליט אַוועק און עס איז שוין אַכט יאָר

.קוק אָן דעם בויטשיק; ער ווערט שוין אַ לויער
.דאָרטן זיצט אַ מיידעלע, וואָס זי שפּילט פּיאַן.
.מע זאָגט, אַז דאָס מיידעלע, וועט דעם לויערס כּלה זײַן
,נו, פּאַפּאַ, געדענקסטו צוריק מיט אַכט יאָר”
?ווען איך האָב דיך געבעטן פֿאַר שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
יעצט בין איך איצט לויער און איך מאַך דיך גליקלעך 
.אויף אַלֹע דײַנע יאָר.

TRANSLITERATION, TRANSLATION AND YIDDISH

Shikhelekh by Manya Bender

1) In droysn iz fintster, in droysn iz nas.
“ikh hob nit kayn shikhelekh tsu geyn oyf der gas.
Papa, ikh bet dir, azoy fil mol.
Koyf zhe mir shoyn, koyf zhe mir shoyn shikhelekh a por.
Koyf zhe mir shoyn, koyf zhe mir shoyn shikhelekh a por.”

2) S’iz avek gegangen a lange tsayt,
Dos kind iz gevorn a groyser advokat.
Er zitst mit zayn meydl, zey shpiln beyde pian.
di meydl zogt, zi vil zayn kale zayn.
“Papa, gedenkstu mit azoy fil yor tsurik.
Ikh hob dir gebeytn shikhelekh a por?
Un itst makh ikh dir gilklekh af ale dayne yor.” 

TRANSLATION of BENDER

1) Outside it’s dark, outside it’s wet
“I don’t have a shoes to go out in the street.
Papa, I’ve asked you so many times  
Buy me, buy me a pair of shoes.”

2)  A long time had passed.
The child became a big-time lawyer.
He sits with his girlfriend; they both are playing piano.
The girl says she wants to be his bride.
Papa, do you remember many years ago?
I asked you to get me a pair of shoes.
And now I will make you happy the rest of your days.

שיכעלעך 
געזונגען פֿון מאַניע בענדער
פֿון רות רובין-אַרכיוו, ייִוואָ

.אין דרויסן איז פֿינצטער, אין דרויסן איז נאַס”
.איך האָב ניט קיין שיכעלעך צו גיין אויף דער גאַס
,פּאַפּאַ, איך בעט דיך, אַזוי פֿיל מאָל
קויף זשע מיר שוין, קויף זשע מיר שוין
.שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
קויף זשע מיר שוין, קויף זשע מיר שוין
“.שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר

.ס’איז אַוועק געגאַנגען אַ לאַנגע צײַט
.דאָס קינד איז געוואָרן אַ גרויסער אַדוואָקאַט
.ער זיצט מיט זײַן מיידל, זיי שפּילן ביידע פּיִאַן
.די מיידל זאָגט זי וויל זײַן כּלה זײַן
פּאַפּאַ, געדענסטו מיט אַזוי פֿיל יאָר צוריק”
?איך האָב דיר געבעטן שיִכעלעך אַ פּאָר
“און איצט מאַך איך דיר גליקלעך אויף אַלע דײַנע יאָר

Di yidishe bine, ed. J. Katzenelenbogen, NY (1897):

American Yiddish Penny Songs edited by Jane Peppler, 2015:

“Di goldene land” Performed by Paul Lipnick

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2017 by yiddishsong

Di goldene land / The Golden Land
A song by Elyokum Zunser
sung by Paul Lipnick

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week’s Yiddish song comes from Houston resident Elton Lipnick: an old home recording of his father Paul Lipnick singing the Eliyokum Zunser (1836-1913) song Di goldene medine (The Golden Land).

Paul (Paltiel) Lipnick (1903 – 1997) was born in Balbirishuk, now Balbieriskis, Lithuania.  He arrived in Galveston, TX with is mother and older sister June 10, 1907 – the first year of the “Galveston Movement/Plan” which diverted immigrant Jews from the East Coast to the southwest US.

Paul’s father Sorach arrived earlier to Ellis Island in 1904, and it is in NYC that he apparently learned this song which his son then learned from him in Texas. According to Elton Lipnick the song was recorded sometime between 1962 – 1976. Paul spoke fluent Yiddish.

LipnickFotoThree generations of Lipnicks: Paul, his son Elton, and his grandson David (taken 1990 -1992).

The bracketed numbers in the transliteration correspond to the same lines in the original Zunser Yiddish text as found in The Works of Elyokum Zunser: A Critical Edition edited by Mordkhe Schaechter, YIVO 1964. By comparing the two, one can follow how this song was folklorized. This Yiddish text is attached, as is the music as found in Geklibene lider fun Eliyokum Zunser NY 1928.

According to Zunser’s biographer Sol Liptzin, he wrote “Columbus and Washington,” a song that lauds the American ideal of freedom and democracy, during his last days in Minsk and completed it on board the ship in 1889. Di Goldene Land was written in 1891 expresses his disappointment after just a couple of years in NYC.

On YouTube there is a more theatrical recording of this song by the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus, of New York from 2014, conducted by Binyumen Schaechter.

In Paul Lipnick’s performance the first few words are missing but have been added in brackets according to the printed version of Zunser’s songs. Though quite popular in its time, I have found no LP/CD version of this song. Followers of this blog will note the resemblance in the melody to an earlier posted Zunser song Rokhl mevakho a boneho.

Thanks to Dr. Melissa Weininger at Rice University for making the connection with Elton Lipnick and to Elton Lipnick for the tape, photo and biographical information.

TRANSLITERATION

 [Fun Amerike hob ikh]  als kind gehert [1]
ven tsvey fleygn redn banand.
Vi gliklekh me lebt af Columbus’ erd;
es iz dokh a goldene land.

Ikh bin ahingekumenת dem seyfer durkhgekukt [5]
fil trern, troyer, shteyt af yeder blat gedrukt.
In di enge gasn vu di mase shteyt gedikht,
fil oreme, fintsere; der umglik ligt zey afn gezikht.

Zey shteyen fun fri biz bay nakht [9]
di lipn farbrent un farshmakht.
Der iz mafkir zayn kind far a “sent”
dem varft men fun veynung far rent.

In shtub iz der dales dokh ful. [93]
Ot rayst men op kinder fun “skul.”
Zey blaybn fargrebt, on farshatnd,
un dos ruft men “a goldene land.”

In New Yorker downtown to git nor a blik [81]
vu di luft iz a “regeler” pest.
Men ligt in di tenements a kop oyf a kop
vi di hering in di barlekh geprest

Ver ken dos tsuzen dem tsar [89]
Vi kinderlekh shpringen fun kar
mit di newspapers ful in di hent.
vi zey farkiln zikh tsu fardinen a “sent.”

In shtub iz der dales dokh ful,
ot rayst men op kinder fun “skul”.
Zey blaybn fargrebt, on farshatnd,
un dos ruft men a “goldene land”.

Dem arbeters yor shvimt im arum[17]
in a taykh fun zayn eygenem shveys.
Er horevet in “bizi,” un hungert in “slek.”
Un iz shtendik in shrek mit zayn “plays”. [place]

Git eynem di mashine a ris.[29]
Ot blaybn di shteper on fis.
Der on a fus un der on a hant.
Un dos ruft men a “goldene land”.

Nor lebn, lebt dokh der gvir in ir. [97]
Er bazitst dokh a kenigraykh.
Vos in Europe a firsht iz in America a gvir.
Der makht iz fun beydn glaykh.

Es shat im keyn konkurentsi
zayn kapital iz greys. [103]
Er git a shpil a vaylinker
vern ale kleyner bald oys.

Vi groys iz zayn makht un zayn vort
Er hot dokh di deye in kort.
Iber im gilt nisht keyn shtand [111]
tsu im iz di goldene land.

TRANSLATION

[About America I ] had heard as a child
when two people conversed.
How lucky one lives on Columbus’ ground;
It is truly a Golden Land.

I arrived and read through this “holy book”.
Many tears, sorrow is printed on each page.
In the narrow streets where the masses are thick,
Poor, dark; bad fortune is seen on their faces.

They stand from morning to night.
The lips burnt and faint.
This one sacrifices his child for a cent,
That one gets thrown out of his flat because of rent.

The home is full of poverty.
Children are ripped out of school.
They remain ignorant, unintelligent,
and you call this “a Golden Land”

In downtown New York: take a look
where the air is regularly polluted.
The tenements are crowded with people,
like herrings squeezed in barrels.

Who could stand and watch this sorrow
as children jump from the car [trolley car]
with hands full of newspapers
as they catch cold to earn a cent.

The home is full of poverty.
Children are taken out of school.
They remain ignorant, unintelligent,
and you call this “a Golden Land”.

The worker’s year swims around him
in a river of his own sweat.
He labors when its busy, starves when its “slack” [no work]
And is always fearful of his “place” [place in line for work]

The machine gives someone a tear
leaving the leather workers with no legs.
This one has no foot, that one no hand
And this you call “a Golden Land”.

Yet there are the wealthy who live there,
he possesses an entire kingdom.
What in Europe was a prince, is in America a wealthy man;
the power of both is equal.

No competition can harm him;
his capital is large.
He plays with them awhile
and soon is rid of all the smaller ones.

How great is his power and his word.
He has the authority in his pocket.
No social position applies to him.
For him is this a “Golden Land.”

Goldene1goldene2

golden 3Goldene4Goldene5

ZunserLibson 1

Zunser Libson 2

Zunser Libson 3

“Erev yon-kiper af der nakht” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

A short ballad or a fragment? In just one verse it tells quite a story and I rather think it is a dramatic one verse song in classic ballad form (first a description of the scene, then a dialogue) about a problem we usually think of as a Jewish immigrant’s dilemma. It clearly was an issue in the old country as well. This recording of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, (b. Zvinyetchke, Bukovina, 1893 – d. New York, 1973) was recorded by Leybl Kahn in the Bronx in 1954.


Erev yoym-kiper af der nakht
iz geshtanen a gevelb afgemakht.
Hot men gefregt vus tisti rushe
Im yon-kiper aza groyse zind?
S’i nishkushe, s’i nishkushe
Ikh darf farnern vayb un kind.

Yom Kippur evening
a store stood open.
So they asked – “What are you doing wicked one?
Such a sin on Yom Kippur!”
“It’s not so bad, not so bad –
I have a wife and child I must feed!’
yonkiper