Archive for Itzik Gottesman

“Shabes nukh dem kigel” Performed by Malka Lubelski

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2021 by yiddishsong

Shabes nukh dem kigel /Sabbath, after the kugel  [potato pudding]
Sung by Malka/Molly Lubelski, recorded by Abraham Lubelski, Bronx 1967

Malka Lubelski with son Abraham in Post-WWII Germany

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN
A love song from the 19th century apparently in the repertoire of the Broder zingers, itinerant singers and actors who often performed in taverns and wine cellars. A different version of this song can be found in the collection Broder zinger (1960) by Shlomo Pryzament (scan attached), with text and music. The singer Masha Benya recorded this Pryzament version which is sung from the man’s point of view. Here is the link to Benya’s recording from her LP record Jewish Song Treasury, Volume 2.

Molly Lubelski’s version differs significantly textually and is sung from the girl’s point of view. Her referring to her “Madam” implies that the singer works for her in some capacity or the Madam is her landlady, or perhaps it’s an ironic way to refer to her mother. There is another song from the Yiddish theater entitled “Shabes nokhn kugl” , which is a completely different song and has been recorded several times. The words and music to that theater song can be found in Jane Peppler’s Yiddish Songs from Warsaw 1929-193: The Itzik Zhelonek Collection.     

For biographical information on Malka Lubelski see the previous post “Vi iz dus gesele”. 

Shabes nukh dem kigl
sung by Molly Lubelski

Shabes nukh dem kigl
geyt mayn madam tsu gest.
Es kumt tsu mir mayn khusn
un drikt un kisht mikh fest.

Sabbath after the kugel,
my madam goes out to visit.
So my future husband then comes to me
and squeezes and kisses me strongly.

Tsvay upgeglantste shtivl,
dus hitl in a zayt
er iz an oysgedinter,
fardint un iz a layt.

With two shiny boots
and his cap worn to the side,
he has served in the military,
and earns a reasonable living.

Bald nokh dem esn
geyen mir paze taykh. 
Es zenen undz mekane
say urem un say raykh. 

Right after eating,
we walk along the river.
Everyone envies us,
the poor and the rich.

Ikh trug a nay klaydl,
tsvay oysgekemte tsep. 
Ikh bin a shayn maydl 
un ikh fardray di kep.

I’m wearing a new dress,
and have combed my braids.
I am a pretty girl
and heads turn when I pass. 

Nor im lib ikh
un er hot dus der vert.
Er iz der shenster bukher
der shenster oyf der erd.

But he is the one I love,
and he is worth it.
He is the handsomest man,
the best looking in the world

Er zugt er vet mikh nemen
un shteln a khupe oykh. 
O, klezmer veln shpiln,
oy, az s’vet geyn a roykh.

He says he will take me
and marry me.
O, klezmers will play so well
oy, that smoke will rise.

Un mayn madam vet shenken
tsvey kishn un a klayd.
Oy, vet zayn a simkhe,
oy, vet zayn a frayd.

And my madam will give as gifts –
two pillows and a dress.
Oy, there will be a celebration
oy, there will be joy.

un mashke vet men trinken
vifl s’vet arayn,
un shabes nukh deym kigl
kumt mayn madam tsu geyn.

We’ll drink whiskey
as much as we can.
Sabbath after the kugel
my madam goes out to visit.

שבת נאָך דעם קוגל
געזונגען פֿון מלכּה (מאַלע) לובעלסקי

שבת נאָך דעם קוגל
.גייט מײַן מאַדאַם צו געסט
עס קומט צו מיר מײַן חתן
.און דריקט און קושט מיך פֿעסט

,צוויי אָפּגעגלאַנצטע שטיוול
,דאָס היטל אין אַ זײַט
,ער איז אַן אויסגעדינטער
.פֿאַרדינט און איז אַ לײַט

באַלד נאָך דעם עסן
.גייען מיר פּאַזע טײַך
עס זענען אונדז מקנא
.סײַ אָרעם און סײַ רײַך

,איך טראָג אַ נײַ קליידל,
.צוויי אויסגעקעמטע צעפּ
איך בין אַ שיין מיידל
.און איך פֿאַרדריי די קעפּ

 נאָר אים ליב איך
.און ער האָט דאָס ווערט
,ער איז דער שענסטער בחור
.דער שענסטער אויף דער ערד

ער זאָגט ער וועט מיך נעמען
.און שטעלן אַ חופּה אויך
,אָ, קלעזמער וועלן שפּילן
.אוי, אַז ס’וועט גיין אַ רויך

און מײַן מאַדאַם וועט שענקען
.צוויי קישן און אַ קלייד
אוי, וועט זײַן אַ שׂימחה
.אוי, וועט זײַן אַ פֿרייד

מאַשקע וועט מען טרינקען
.וויפֿל ס’וועט אַרײַן
און שבת נאָך דעם קוגל
.קומט מײַן מאַדאַם צו גיין

From Broder zinger (1960) by Shlomo Pryzament, p. 86-87:

“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

“Baym tir fun gan-eydn” Performed by Mimi Erlich and Hasia Goldberg-Gering

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Baym tir fun gan-eydn / At the door of Paradise
Sung by Mimi Erlich and Hasia Goldberg-Gering
Ehrlich recorded by Itzik Gottesman at KlezKanada, St. Agathe, Quebec, approx. 2007;
Gering-Goldberg recording from the Music Department of the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, recorded 1980.

Courtesy of the Yiddish Book Center
“Baym tir fun gan-eydn” sung by Mimi Erlich

For Hasia Gering-Goldberg’s version, please click here and listen from 42:54 to 44:06.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

My interest in this song began when Mimi Erlich z”l, a teacher and accomplished musician, approached me while waiting for dinner outside the dining hall at the KlezKanada festival. She sang what she remembered from her mother. Erlich recently passed and and in her memory I put this blog together.  A video interview with her can be found at the Wexler Oral History Project at the Yiddish Book Center. 

A fine recording of the song by Hasya Gering-Goldberg is from the on-line holdings of the Music Department at the National Library in Jerusalem. It is more complete than Erlich’s though the second verse is cut-off. I have transcribed and translated the versions of Gering-Goldberg and Erlich. The music and words of one verse of a similar version can be found in Abraham Idelsohn’s monumental Thesaurus of Hebrew-Oriental Melodies (1914-1932), Volume 9, #724 (please see scans below). Several texts were sent to A. Forsher for his column “Pearls of the Yiddish Poets” in the Forverts newspaper (scans below). But so far the authorship of this song has not been found. In a poetry collection of Aron Kriwitzky he includes a longer, fuller text for the song (below).

So we have 6 variants of the song, all of them from Lithuania:

1) Idelsohn vol. 9, text and music.
2 & 3)  In the “Perl” column Jan. 23, 1972, second section page 13. there is a version by Paula Segal and one by Henye Shenkman.
4) Erlich, recording.
5) Goldberg-Gering, recording.
6) The extended version found in Aron Kriwitzky’s collection.

Thanks to Yiddish teacher and researcher Eliezer Niborski for finding the Goldberg-Gering recording and the text in Aron Kriwitzky’s poetry collection. Thanks also to Jill Horowitz, friend of Mimi Erlich, and  to Gila Flam, head of the Music Deptartment at the National Library, Jerusalem.

Verson of Hasia Goldberg-Gering (חסיה גולדברג-גרינג)

“Der gan-eydn” [ spoken: “Paradise”]

Baym tir fun gan-eydn
shteyen malokhim on a shir.
Mentshn viln arayngeyn reydn
nor men halt zey op bay der tir. 

At the door to paradise
stand many angels. 
People want to enter and speak
but they are stopped at the door.

Mikhoyl, Gavril haltn di bikher.
Me leyent zey for zeyer zind.
Un yeder eyner vil vos gikher
in gan-eydn arayn geshvind.

Michael, Gabriel are keeping the books.
They read their sins to them .
And everyone wants, as fast as possible,
to enter paradise quickly.

Nor me shtupt zey op mit beyde hent.
Men farmakht far zey di tir.
“Geyt in gehenem un vert farbrent.
Der gan-eydn iz nit far dir!”

But they are pushed away  with both hands.
The door is closed for them. 
“Go to hell and burn:
Paradise is not for you!”

Kumt tsu geyn a kheynevdike yidene
mit a horband a reytn,
mit korbn-minkhes* un mit  siderlekh farshidene
un mit a kop a bloyzn.

A charming woman arrives
with a red headband,
with korbn-minkhes* and various prayer books,
and with an uncovered head.

Avek fun danet du arura
Du host zikh gefirt fardorbn.

Away from here you cursed women.
You led a corrupted life

Korbn-minkhe* : a woman’s prayer book written in Yiddish.

בײַם טיר פֿון גן־עדן
.שטייען מלאכים אָן אַ שיעור
מענטשן ווילן אַרײַנגיין רעדן
.נאָר מען האַלט זיי אָפּ בײַ דער טיר.

מיכאל, גבֿריאל האַלטן די ביכער
.מע לייענט זיי פֿאָר זייער זינד.
און יעדער איינער וויל וואָס גיכער
.אין גן־עדן אַרײַן געשווינד.

נאָר מע שטופּט זיי אָפּ מיט ביידע הענט
.מען פֿאַרמאַכט פֿאַר זיי די טיר.
גייט אין גיהנום און ווערט פֿאַרברענט”
“!דער גן־עדן איז ניט פֿאַר דיר

קומט צו גיין אַ חנעוודיקע ייִדענע
.מיט אַ האָרבאַנד אַ רייטן
מיט קרבן־מינחהס און סידערלער פֿאַרשידענע
.און מיט אַ קאָפּ אַ בלויזן

!אַוועק פֿון דאַנעט דו ארורה
.דו האָסט זיך געפֿירט פֿאַרדאָרבן

Version of Mimi Erlich

Bay dem tir fun gan-eydn
shteyen yidn on a shir.
Yederer vil epes reydn

Men shtupt zey avek
mit beyde hent.

Gey in gehenim un ver farbrent!
Der gan-eydn iz nit far dir.

At the door of paradise,
many people are standing.
Everyone wants to say something

They are pushed away
with both hands.

Go to hell and burn.
Paradise is not for you!

בײַם טיר פֿון גן־עדן
.שטייען מענטשן אָן אַ שיעור
יעדער וויל עפּעס ריידן

מען שטופּט זיי אַוועק
.מיט ביידע הענט

!גיי אין גיהנום און ווער פֿאַרברענט
.דער גן־עדן איז נישט פֿאַר דיר

From Abraham Idelsohn, Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies (1914-1932), Vol 9, #724:

From A. Forsher’s column “Pearls of the Yiddish Poets” in the Forverts, Jan. 23, 1972, second section, page 13. Presenting versions from Paula Segal and Henye Shenkman:

From Aron Kriwitzky’s Collection (published in Israel):

Shteyt of lavoydes-haboyre!: The Shulklaper’s Call to Prayer

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Shteyt of lavoydes-haboyre! / Wake up to pray! 
Five versions of the call to prayer of the shulklaper in Eastern Europe.

Painting of a shulklaper by Mayer Kirshenblatt from the book “They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland before the Holocaust” (University of California Press, 2007)

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

This week we present five different recordings of the call of the shulklaper or shammes [synagogue sexton] to the congregants to prayer. In the towns of Eastern Europe the shulklaper went door to door, knocking on the window shutters. This was done before the Sabbath, for the Selihot/slikhes prayers in the month of Elul and for the midnight service “khtsos” חצות. 

We have transcribed and translated the words to three of the versions after the mp3s.

The five recordings are:

1) “Am kodoysh” A Galician version by Berish Katz from the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO. It can also be heard on Ruth Rubin’s LP “The Jewish Life: The Old Country”.

2) “Shteyt of” from the Stonehill Collection. Singer unidentified (1948).

3) Leah Israelit from her LP record “Songs That I Remember: Melodies from Eretz Yisroel and Bessarabia” (Tikva T-79). A Bessarabian version.

4) A field recording made by Moshe Beregovski, entitled “Khtsos” sung by Eli Spivak, Kiev, 1929, from Volume 6 “Historical Collection of Jewish Musical Folklore 1912 – 1947”. Clearly related to Israelit’s version.

5) A contemporary Hasidic version that we found on Youtube, sung by Belzer khosid, Yermiah Damen (2009)

6)  In addition, at the bottom of this post, we have added a scan of this “call” from Marcy Nulman’s Concise Encyclopedia of Jewish Music (1975). We include his entire entry for “schulklapper” which he learned from a Vilna cantor. He also presents the melody and text of a selikhot call in the Sephardic tradition. 

I have written a more extensive article on the “shulklaper” in the Yiddish Forverts newspaper, Sept. 23, 2019.

TRANSLITERATION / TRANSLATION OF TEXTS

1) The Beresh Katz version (from Galicia)

Spoken: 

All the Jews woke up for “khtsos” [midnight prayers] almost every day. By knocking with a hammer the shammus [sexton] called.

Friday night, when Jews cannot carry a hammer and cannot knock, he sang a melody with all his heart with these words:

עם קדוש! שטייט אויף און גייט לעבֿודת-הבורא
כּי לכּך נוצרתּי
עצל עד מתי תּשכּבֿ

Am kodoysh!
Shteyt of un geyt lavoydes-haboyre.
Ki lekekh notsarti.
Eytsl ladmusay tishkov

Holy people!
Wake up to serve the creator!
For this we were born.
Hurry! How late will you sleep?

2)  Unidentified female singer from the Ben Stonehill Collection:

!שטייט אויף! שטייט אויף!   שטייט אויף! שטייט שוין אַלע אויף
צו עבֿודת־הבורא
אָן פּחד און אָן מורא
שטייט אויף צו עבֿודת־הבורא
שלאָף שוין ניט יידעלע,  שפּיל אויף דיין פֿידעלע
.אין ירושלים
!שטייט אויף

Shteyt of! Shteyt of! Shteyt of!
Shteyt shoyn ale of!
Tsi avoydes-haboyre.
Un pakhad in un moyre.
Shteyt of tsi avoydes-haboyre.
Shluf shoyn nit yidele.
Shpil of dayn fidele
in Yerushelayim. 
Shteyt of!

Awaken! Awaken! Awaken!
Wake up for everyone
to serve the creator [to pray].
Sleep no longer dear Jew.
Play on your fiddle
in Jerusalem.
Awaken!

3)  Singer Leah Israelit from Markulesht, Bessarabia (Mărculeşti, Moldova): 
Israelit learned it from “Shmuel the sexton.”

!שטייט אויף, שטייט אויף
לעבֿודת־הבורא
—עצל עצל למה תּשכּבֿ
קום לעבודת־הבורא
אדם דואג לאבוד דמיו
ואינו דואג לאבוד ימיו
!אוי, שטייט אויף

דמיו, דימיו אינם עוזרים
ימיו, ימיו אינם חוזרים
!אוי, שטייט אויף

.אויף דרײַ זאַכן וועק איך אײַך יידעלעך
אויף חורבן־בית־המיקדש
און אויף גלות־השכינה
.אוי, און אויף צרות־ישראל
שטייט אויף, שטייט אויף
!לעבֿודת־הבורא

Shteyt of! shteyt of!
Lavoydas-haboyre.
Eytsl, eytsl lama tishkov.
Kum lavoydat [lavoydes] haboyre.
Udem doyeg al ibed yumov
veeynu doyeg al ibed yumov
Oy, shteyt of!
Dumov, dumov eynom ozrim.
Yumov, yumov eynem khozrim.

Oy, shteyt of! Lavodas-haboyre
af khurbn beys-hamikdesh
un af gules-haskhine
Oy! un af tsores-yisrol.
Shteyt of! shteyt of!
Lavodas-haboyre!

For three things do I awaken you dear Jews:
for the destruction of the Temple
Oy! and for the exile of the Shekhinah [=Divine Presence] and for the troubles of the Jewish people.
Wake up!  Wake up to pray!

Wake up! Wake up!
To serve the creator. [ = to prayer]
Hurry, hurry, why do you sleep?
Awaken for prayer.
Man worries about losing his money
and man worries about losing his days.
His days do not return.

Below: entry on “Schulklopfer” from Marcy Nulman’s Concise Encyclopedia of Jewish Music (1975):

“Mamele, tatele, nat aykh a matone” Performed by Duo Guefilte Fish

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2021 by yiddishsong

Mamele, tatele, nat aykh a matone / Dearest Mom and Dad: Here is a Gift
Also known as “A gut yor!”, words by Shemu’el Tsesler, sung by “Duo Guefilte Fish”

Mamele, tatele,
Nat aykh a matone:
A sheyn leshone-toyvele,
A vuntsh tsu rosh-hashone.

Mommy, daddy,
Here is a gift:
a beautiful Jewish New Year’s card,
a greeting for rosh-hashone.

A gut yor, vintshn mir,
A gliklekh un tsufridn.
Far aykh un yedn gutn fraynd,
un ale, ale yidn.

We wish you a good year,
a joyous and happy one.
For you and every good friend,
and all, all the Jews.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This song from the Argentinian Yiddish children’s writer, Shmu’el Tsesler, is sung by “Duo Guefilte Fish”, which is comprised of Horacio Liberman and Mirtha Zuker from Miramar, on Argentina’s coast south of Buenos Aries. The duo’s website can be found at this link. Thanks to Horacio Liberman for the video. The words in Yiddish can be found in the book Heym un mishpokhe: material far kindergartner by Sara Fischer, Buenos Aires, 1947 (scan below)

“Ikh bin oysgefurn di gantse velt” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

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

Ikh bin oysgefurn di gantse velt / I Traveled the Whole World Over
A love song from the 19th century sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW]
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954

TRANSLITERATION

LSW speaks: Fin mayn mamen a folkslid; dus iz shoyn…  Ekh hob ekh es gehert mit 60 yur.

Ikh bin oysgefurn a gantse velt.
Ikh ho’ gemeynt ikh vel eraykhn [erreichen]
dus greste glik.
Tse dir, tse dir mayn tayer zis leybm.
Tse dir hot mekh getsoygn tsurik.
Tse dir, tse dir mayn tayer zis leybm.
Tse dir hot mekh getsoygn tsurik.

Vi ‘zoy ken ikh dikh libn, vi ‘zoy ken ikh dikh ern.
Vi ‘zoy ken ikh dikh gants farshteyn?
Az di heyse libe, vus hot getin brenen,
Iz geloshn gevorn mit mayn geveyn.
Az di heyse libe vus hot getin brenen,
Iz geloshn gevorn mit mayn geveyn.

[alternate second verse as remembered by her daughter Beyle Schaechter Gottesman]]

Vi ken ikh dikh libn, vi ken ikh dikh shetshn
Vi ken ikh dekh den ern?
Az di heyse libe vus hot getin brenen,
Is ousgeloshn mit mayne trern]

TRANSLATION

LSW speaks: A folksong from my mother. I heard it 60 years ago.

I traveled the whole world over,
I thought I would attain the happiest joy.
To you, to you, my dear, sweet love [literally: life]
To you, I was drawn to return.
To you, to you, my dear, sweet love
To you, I was drawn to return.

How can I love you? How can I honor you,
How can I understand you completely,
when the passionate love that burned
was extinguished with my tears.

[alternate 2nd verse]

How can I love you, how can I appreciate you,
How can I honor you?
when the passionate love that burned
was extinguished with my tears.

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman with her grandchildren, Itzik and Hyam Gottesman

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I have not found any variants of this beautiful lovesong that LSW remembers from the 1890s. She says that her mother Tobe knew about 30 songs but once Tobe’s husband died young, she was not in the mood to sing. But when Lifshe heard her singing a tune to herself, she asked her to sing it to her.

.ליפֿשע רעדט:  אַ פֿאָלקסליד פֿון דער מאַמען. איך האָב עס געהערט מיט 69 יאָר

.איך בין אויסגעפֿאָרן אַ גאַנצע וועלט
.איך האָב געמיינט איך וועל ערײַכן דאָס גרויסע גליק
.צו דיר, צו דיר מײַן טײַער זיס לעבן
.צו דיר, האָט מיך געצויגן צוריק

?ווי קען איך דיך ליבן, ווי קען איך דיק ערן
?ווי קען איך דיך גאַנץ פֿאַרשטיין
אַז די הייסע ליבע וואָס האָט געטין ברענען
.איד געלאָשן געוואָרן מיט מײַן געוויין.

ליפֿשעס טאָכטער, ביילע שעכטער־גאָטעסמאַן האָט געדענקט אַן אַנדער צווייטע סטראָפֿע ־ 
?ווי קען איך דיך ליבן, ווי קען איך די שעצן
?ווי קען איך דיך דען ערן
,אַז די הייסע ליבע וואָס האָט געטין ברענען
.איז אויסגעלאָשן מיט מײַנע טרערן

“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:

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman Performs “Ale meydelekh hobn khasene”

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2021 by yiddishsong

Ale meydelekh hobn khasene / All the Girls are Getting Married
A children’s song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954, NYC

TRANSLITERATION 

LSW’s son, Mordkhe Schaechter, introduces the song: “Nokh a kinderlid” – “Another children’s song.”

Ale meydelekh hobn khasene,
Eykh blab aleyn.
Oy, mame, s’iz avade
nit sheyn.

Tate, gey afn ben-zukher,
un kloyb mir oys a bukher.
Ale meydelekh hobn khasene.
Un eykh blab aleyn. 

TRANSLATION

All the girls are getting married.
I remain alone.
Oy, mame, of course
it’s not nice.

Father, go to the ben-zokher
and pick out a groom for me. 
All the girls are getting married.
And I remain alone. 

,אַלע מיידעלעך האָבן חתונה
.איך בלײַב אַליין
אוי, מאַמע, ס’איז אַוודאי
.ניט שיין

 טאַטע, גיי אויפֿן בן־זכר
.און קלויב מיר אויס אַ בחור
.אַלע מיידעלעך האָבן חתונה
.און איך בלײַב אַליין

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman 

The third line of this short children’s song was difficult to understand, but thanks to Yiddish teacher and researcher Eliezer Niborski, I believe we have the complete correct version. 

A ben-zokher (“zukher” in LSW’s dialect) is a ritual on the Friday night following the birth of a boy. At the home of the new born, the parents serve guests and relatives wine and fruit. The phrase “ben zokher” is from Jeremiah 20:15. See Hayyim Schauss’ description of the tradition in his work The Lifetime of a Jew.

“Wedding” by Issachar Ber Ryback, c. 1930

Niborski also found the ben-zokher – bokher rhyme in two other sources. One in a children’s song that Ruth Rubin sings, “Tate, tate, gey afn ben-zukher”, as heard at YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive. The second he found in the essay by I. L. Peretz “Dos yidishe lebn loytn yidishn folkslid” (“Jewish Life as Depicted in Yiddish Folksong”)

Special thanks to Eliezer Niborski and the Ruth Rubin Archive at the YIVO Sound Archive. 

“Zay zhe mir gezint, zay zhe mir gezint” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2021 by yiddishsong

Zay zhe mir gezint, zay zhe mir gezint / Fare thee well, fare thee well.
A version of “Di goldene pave”, sung by Lifshe Schaecter-Widman (LSW), recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is LSW’s version of the old and popular song more commonly called “Di gildene/goldene pave”, the “Golden Peacock”. It seems that the song gave rise to the golden peacock as a symbol referring to Yiddish folksong and Yiddish artistic creativity in general. 

Illustration by Shirley Knoring

The peacock, needless to say, has been a cross-cultural symbol for millenia. On her blog “Jewish Folk Songs” Batya Fonda discusses the various interpretations of the golden peacock and has transcribed and translated into English a couple of versions of the Yiddish folksong.

In YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive collection, Mary Michaels sings a version, recorded in 1956. Click here to listen.

More recently, Ruth Levin, accompanied by Alexei Belousov on guitar sings it on her recording Atlandish (2019):

LSW’s version makes no mention of the gildene pave, but a bird does remain as the central character along with the unhappy daughter/daughter-in-law. The line about having one hand appears in no other versions, and seems to me to be improvised at the moment of performance. The verses about “shver un shviger’s kest” and “a shlekhtn man” appear in all versions. 

Interestingly, Moshe Beregovski pointed out the similarity of the melody of the song’s first line to a Ukrainian song (Old Jewish Folk Music, Slobin, p. 514) But LSW starts off the song with a different melody than other versions. 

 The song is included in many collections: to name a few with musical notation: Yidishe folks-lider, Beregovski and Fefer, 276-77; Die Schonsten Lieder Der OstJuden, Kaufmann, 80-81; Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies, vol. 9, Idelsohn, #33, page 12; Jewish Folksongs from the Baltics, Karnes, p. 20-21; Mir trogn a gezang, Mlotek, 106-107.Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive, Mlotek and Slobin, p. 45-46.; just text – Yidishe folkslider in rusland, Ginzburg and Marek, #264-265, p. 215 – 217

—————————————————

Zay zhe mir gezint
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Zay zhe mir gezint, zay zhe mir gezint
mayn tayere mame,
Ekh fur fin dir avek
Say es vet mir git zayn, say es vet mir
shlekht zayn
Kimen vel ekh mer nisht tsirik. 
Say es vet mir git zayn, say es vet mir
shlekht zayn
Kimen vel ekh mer nisht tsirik. 

Farewell, farewell, my dear mother.
I am going away.
Whether it will be good, whether it will be bad
I will not be coming back.

Azoy vi s’iz biter mayn mame, miter
A feygele oyf deym yam. 
A feygele oyf deym yam.
Azoy i’ dekh biter, mayn mame, miter,
az me hot a shlekhtn man.

Just as it is bitter mother dear,
for a bird over the sea,
so it is bitter mother dear
to have a cruel husband.

Azoy vi s’iz biter, mayn tayere miter,
a feygele in a fremd land.
a feygele in a fremd land.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
az m’ot nor eyn hant.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
az men hot nor eyn hant.

Just as it’s bitter dear mother
for a bird in a strange land,
so it is bitter mother dear,
when you have just one hand.

Azoy vi s’iz biter mayn tayere miter
a feygele un a neyst.
a feygele un a neyst.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
shver un shvigers kest.
Azoy iz biter mayn mame, miter
shver un shvigers kest.

Just as it’s bitter my dear mother
a bird without a nest,
so it is bitter my dear mother
to live with my in-laws. 

Zay mir gezint mayn tayere mame,
ikh fur fun dir avek. 
Say es vet mir git zayn,
say es vet mir shlekht zayn. 
ikh vel nit kimen tsirik.
Say es vet mir git zayn,
say es vet mir shlekht zayn. 
Ikh kim nit mer tsurik. 

Farewell, farewell my dear mother,
I am going away.
Whether it will go well for me, 
or go poorly,
I will not be coming back. 

,זײַ זשע מיר געזונט, זײַ זשע מיר געזונט
.מײַן טײַערע מאַמע, איך פֿאָר פֿון דיר אַוועק
,סײַ עס וועט מיר גוט גיין
,סײַ עס וועט מיר שלעכט גיין
.קומען וועל איך מער נישט צוריק

,אַזוי ווי ס’איז ביטער, מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.אַ פֿייגעלע אויף דעם ים, אַ פֿייגעלע אויף דעם ים
,אַזוי איז ביטער מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.אַז מע האָט אַ שלעכטן מאַן

,אַזוי ווי ס’איז ביטער, מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
,אַ פֿייגעלע אין אַ פֿרעמד לאַנד
,אַזוי איז ביטער מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.אַז מע האָט נאָר איין האַנט

,אַזוי ווי ס’איז ביטער, מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
,אַ פֿייגעלע אָן אַ נעסט
,אַזוי איז ביטער מײַן מאַמע־מוטער
.שווער און שוויגערס קעסט

. מען האָט נאָר איין האַנט

,זײַ זשע מיר געזונט, זײַ זשע מיר געזונט
.מײַן טײַערע מאַמע, איך פֿאָר פֿון דיר אַוועק
,סײַ עס וועט מיר גוט גיין
,סײַ עס וועט מיר שלעכט גיין
.קומען וועל איך מער נישט צוריק

“Kinder kumt der friling ruft” Performed by Harry Mervis

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2021 by yiddishsong

Kinder kumt der friling ruft / Children come, Spring calls
Sung by Harry Mervis, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore, 1979. From the Jewish Museum of Maryland collection.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman and Peter Rushefsky

Jewish Museum of Maryland

Kinder kumt as sung by Harry Mervis. 

Kinder kumt, der friling ruft
Blo der himl, klor di luft.
Shmekn zis di frishe blumen
un di taykhlekh freylekh brumen.
Leyft [loyft] in frayen feld.

Children come, Spring calls.
Blue the sky, clear the air.
Smell the fresh flowers
and the rivers gaily roar.

Hert, di feygelekh zingen,
flien heykh [hoykh] un klingen,
Helft zey, kinderlekh, shpringen.
Leyft in frayen feld. 

Listen to the birds sing,
flying high and resound.
Help them, children, to jump.
Run in the open field.

Kinder yetst iz ayer tsayt,
S’iz sheyn bald nor gor nit vayt.  
Er makht gel di grine bleter
Er makht di zise bleter,  
azoy on a sof.          

Children now is your time.
It is soon not far. 
He makes the green leaves yellow. 
He makes the sweet leaves.
Thus without end.   

Kinder aylt zikh unter,
Zayt zikh freylekh, munter.
Vayl der langer vinter
varft af alemen a shlof.

Children hurry yourselves.
Be happy and brave
because the long winter
throws on everyone a slumber.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

The lyrics to the song are by Mordkhe Rivesman (1868 – 1924), the same author of such songs as “Haynt is Purim Brider” and “Khanike Oy Khanike”.  the melody is almost always referred to as “a folk melody”. The first printing of the song that I have found is in Z. Kisselgof’s  collectin Lider-zamlbukh far der yidisher shul un familye, 1912There it is called “Kinder kumt der friling ruft”. It was also called “Likhik iz Gots velt”. Yiddish music archivist Robert Freedman remembers singing this song in his Chaim Nakhman Bialik Folk Shul and from memoirs it is clear that the song was also popular in Zionist circles in Eastern Europe. 

Recently singer, composer and choir director Polina Shepherd has revived the song. She newly arranged and recorded the song with her London Yiddish Choir and Chutzpah choir. Here is a link to that performance.

Shepherd also printed the music and original words at this link.

The song was translated into Hebrew by the Israeli Yiddish scholar Dov Sadan and can be found at this link in the website Zemereshet. זמרשת

The original lyrics by Rivesman in Yiddish has been scanned form  Z. Kisselgof’s Lider-zamelbukh, St. Petersburg 1912 and are attached below.

We know of one recording of the song on the album Ilamay Handel Sings Portraits of Jewish Live in Song.

COMMENTARY ON THE MUSIC BY PETE RUSHEFSKY

The song uses a variant of a Hasidic-flavored melody recorded by Belf’s Romanian Ensemble for the Syrena record label as “Nakhes fun Kinder”. The melody was also recorded as part of a suite by the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia-based Lepiyansky Family of tsimbl (dulcimer) players and released on the Soviet MusTrust label.

Let’s take a closer look at the Belf version, which presents this beautiful melody in its fully-rendered form. The instrumental version of the piece is best known for its syncopated melodic gesture beginning with a rest on the first beat (a rhythmic device seen in many Hasidic nigunim):

However, the song version from Rivesman simplifies the melody, substituting four quarter notes for the first measure.

Composed in the freygish/Ahava Raba scale, the first section sets up the mode by emphasizing the first and then third degrees, repeating the phrases to create a sense of gravity. The second section switches to a call-and-response form to expand the melodic range to the fourth and fifth degrees, and hints at what will come in the final section with a quick reach up to the octave. Finally the third section lifts the melody to its climax (known in Arabic music as the “awj”) with three beats on the octave, initiating a lovely four-part walk down the freygish scale that continues into the mode’s subtonic range before resolving back up to the tonic.

There is an interesting difference between the Mervis version and the better-known version that Shepherd’s choir performs. The second section of Mervis’s version of “Kinder kumt” (starting with “Hert, di feygelekh zingen”) is reminiscent of the second section of the Belf “Nakhes fun Kinder”. In contrast, the second section of Shepherd jumps immediately up the octave like the third section of Belf. Perhaps Mervis (or whomever he learned his version from) was aware of the full melody ala Belf, and chose to sing it this way. Or possibly the variant is a result of confusion between the two melodies.

As I was contributing to this post, the wonderful Yiddish singer Eleonore Weill happened to be over giving my son Gabriel his weekly piano lesson. She graciously agreed to record herself performing the song on my iPhone (recorded April 6, 2021 in Brooklyn):

Lyrics by Rivesman published in Z. Kisselgof’s Lider-zamelbukh, St. Petersburg 1912: