Archive for Itzik Gottesman

“Dus geboyrn finem mentshn” Performed by Frahdl Post

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

 Dus geboyrn finem mentshn / The Birth of Man
Sung by Frahdl Post
Recorded by Wolf Younin 1976, Workmen’s Circle Nursing Home, Bronx

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Usually on the blog we identify the songs by the first line, but the singer Frahdl Post called this song Dus geboyrn finem mentshn – The Birth of Man – so we will stick with that title. It is an adaptation of the first half of the poem Der malekh (The Angel), a poem by Avraham Goldfaden (1840-1908), a section bearing the subtitle “Di yunge neshome – The Young Soul”. It was first printed in Goldfaden’s poetry collection Dos yidele (Zhitomir 1866). We are attaching in 4 scans the entire poem as it appeared in the 1903 Warsaw edition.

Goldfaden picAvraham Goldfaden

The poem and song are based on the midrash and Jewish folk belief that before birth the soul of the child knows the entire Torah and all about the world. But right before birth the angel flicks his/her finger hitting the lip and the newborn forgets everything as it enters this world. The indentation above our lips, the philtrum, marks where the angel struck the child.

In Goldfaden’s 25-verse poem and Frahdl Post’s 14-verse song, the angel especially points out the evils of money in Jewish society.

Henry Carrey transcribed the song as he heard his grandmother, Frahdl Post, sing it. After listening, I changed some words of his transcription. Some words remain unclear and we indicate alternatives in brackets. I would suggest that one must read Goldfaden’s original poem to make sense of some of the lines in the song.

Post’s northern Ukrainian dialect includes both turning the “oy” to “ey”, (for example “skheyre instead of “skhoyre”), a change we associate with the northeastern Yiddish dialect (Litvish), as well as vowel changes we usually associate with the southeastern Yiddish dialect – “zugn” instead of “zogn”, “arim” instead of “arum”. The transcription reflects the dialect as much as possible.

Needless to say Frahdl Post’s memory in recalling these long songs is very impressive. Thanks for help in this week’s post go to Henry Carrey and David Braun.

TRANSLITERATION

[Ge]shlufn iz ales eyn halbe nakht
kayn shim mentsh hot zikh nit gerirt.
Nor di zilberne levune aleyn
tsvishn di shtern shpatsirt.

Demolt tsit on der shluf mit makht ,
farshlefert di mentshn di oygn,
iz fin dem himl a malakh arup
[Un iz iber di dekher gefloygn.]

Er halt di hent tsugeltulyet tsu zikh;
a yinge neshume getrugn,
“Vi trugsti mikh? Vi shlepsti mikh ?”
heybt im on di neshume tsi zugn .

“Hob nit keyn meyre, neshumele mayns”
Heybt on der malakh tsu reydn,
“Ikh vel dir bazetsn in a hayzl a fayns
Du vest dortn lebn tsufridn [in freydn].”

“Vest onheybn di velt beser farshteyn
Veln mir dir gebn a kameyeh,
Azey aza zakh hostu keyn mol geyzen
Zi heyst mitn nomen matbeye.”

“Mit der matbeye darfstu visn vi azoy tsu bageyn,
Zi iz magnet, zi iz kishef, zi iz gelt.
Zi ken dir gibn di velt tsu zeyn,
Zi ken dir farvistn dayn velt.“

Dortn zitst eyner in zan tsimer
Er trinkt mit im frayntlekh un kvelt,
Zey vi er kikt im [?] same in bekher aran.
Er vil bay im yarshenen zayn gelt.

Dortn shluft eyner in zayn tsimer.
Er shluft zikh git geshmak
Zey vi er shteyt un kritst mit di tseyn
Er vil hobn dem shlisl fun dem gelt.

Dortn firt eyner ganeyvishe skheyre,
Gur farviklt, farshtelt,
Zey vi er hot di skheyre geganvet
Un er vil zi farkeyfn far gelt.

Dortn oyf dem beys-hakvures
In an ofenem keyver oyfgeshtelt,
Zey vi er tsit di takhrikhim arup
Un er vil zey farkeyfn far gelt.

“Okh! neyn, neyn, neyn, neyn, heyliker malakh
Mit aza velt kim ikh nit oys.
Fir zhe mir beser upet aheym,
Ikh ze du kayn gits nit aroys.“

“Shpatsir dir a bisl arim afn brik,
Shpatsir zikh a bisl arim,
Di vest dokh bald darfn kimen karik
Di zolst nit kimen far im [mit keyn grim.][?]”
[Goldfaden: “Zolst kumen aheym on a mum]

Der hun hot gegebn dem ershtn krey,
A kol fun a kimpeturin,
Azey hot men gegeybn bald a geshrey,
“ A yingele! – mit lange yurn.”

[Azoy vi men hot gegeybn dem geshrey.
“Mazl-tov, a yingl geboyrn”]
Der malakh hot gegebn a shnal in der lip
Un iz karik tsum himl farfloygn.

TRANSLATION

Everything is asleep at midnight.
Not a soul was stirring.
Only the silver moon
Went walking among the stars

Sleep covers all with its power
And makes drowsy all of the people’s eyes.
An angel then came down from heaven
And flew over the rooftops.

He holds his hands tucked close to himself
A young soul he was carrying.
“Where are you carrying me? Where are you dragging me?”
The soul starts saying to him.

“Do not fear, my dear little soul”
the angel begins to speak
“I will place you in a good house.
You will live there happily.”

“When you begin to understand the world better,
we will give you a charm.
Such a thing you have never seen:
It is called by the name – coin.”

“With this coin you will have to know what to do.
It’s a magnet; it’s magic, it’s money.
It can help you see the world.
It can destroy your the world.”

There sits someone with his friend in his room.
He drinks with him as friends and enjoys it.
Look how looks right in the goblet .
He wants to inherit his money.

Another sleeps in his room,
He is sound asleep.
See how he stands and grits his teeth;
He wants to have the key to the money.

Over there someone deals with stolen goods,
Completely wrapped up, disguised.
See how he stole that merchandise
And how he wants to sell if for money.

There on the cemetery
In an open grave [a body] is propped up.
See how he pulls the burial shrouds off it
and wants to sell them for money.

“Ah no, no, no, no holy angel
I cannot survive in such a world.
It would be better if you took me home.
No good do I see here.”

“Take a walk around the bridge,
take a little walk around.
You will soon have to come back
So that you don’t appear before him with make-up [?].”
[In Goldfaden’s original – “So that you return with no blemish”]

The rooster gave its first crow
The voice of a midwife,
And thus was given the first scream
A boy! May he live for many years.

As soon as the first yell was given
“Mazl-tov! A boy was born”.
The angle gave it a flick on the lip
And flew back up to heaven.
geboyrn1

geboyrn2

geboyrn3

geboyrn4

Di yunge neshome – The Young Soul, as printed in Goldfaden’s poetry collection Dos yidele (Zhitomir 1866):

YungeNewshome1

YungeNeshome4

YungeNeshome3

YungeNeshome2

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“Di levune shaynt in der fintsterer nakht” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2018 by yiddishsong

Di levune shaynt in der fintsterer nakht
The moon shines in the dark night

Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

LifsheAndFeterWidman

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman with her 2nd husband, Isaac Widman,
approximately at the time of the recording of this song, 1950s. 

This lyrical love song from the man’s perspective contrasts with the ballads in Lifshe Schaechter Widman’s repertoire which have a single narrative plot. The three verses barely relate to each other other than the two lines about sending letters that connect the second and third verse, and the reptition of the woman’s name Libele. As in most lyrical songs, the song emphasizes the emotion rather than the storyline. The lines about swimming in a deep river would usually signal an upcoming tragedy but nothing is made of it.

TRANSLITERATION

Di levune shaynt in der fintsterer nakht.
Libele zitst dort baym fentster un trakht.
Es dakht zikh ir az Itzikl geyt
in nayem mantl ungetin.

Gebudn hob ikh mikh in a takhele.
Dus takhlele iz geveyzn tif.
Veyn nit, veyn nit Libele,
ikh vel dir shikn briv.

Brivelekh vel ikh dir shikn.
Brivelekh vesti leynen.
Az ikh vel mekh dermanen in dan tayer zis punim,
klugn vel ikh in veynen.

TRANSLATION

The moon shines in the dark night.
Libele sits there at the window and thinks.
She imagines that Itzikl is coming
dressed in a new coat.

I was bathing in a river;
the river was deep.
Don’t cry, don’t cry Libele,
I will send you letters.

Letters I will send you
Letters you will read.
And when I think of your dear, sweet face,
I will lament and cry.
dilevune yid1

dilevune yid2

“In Odes af a shteyn” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2018 by yiddishsong

In Odes af a shteyn / In Odessa on a Stone
A song about the 1905 Kiev Pogrom
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recorded in 1960s Bronx by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In Odes af a shteyn is a variant of the previously posted pogrom ballad In Kiever gas. Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) tells us in her spoken introduction to this song that she learned it from a survivor of the Kiev pogrom of 1905 (October 31 – November 2, 1905) who came to her Bukovina town, Zvinyetchke. Lifshe was then 12 years old.

So the earlier version, In Kiever gas, which was sung soon after the 1881 Kiev pogrom, was reused for the second Kiev pogrom which took place almost 25 years later.

kiev-1905-pogrom-1

1905 Kiev Pogrom

In Ruth Rubin’s archive a “Mr. Auslander” sings In Ades af der gas, a combination of the two versions:

And here is another performance of the song by LSW from her 1954 recording session with Leybl Kahn. (The first few seconds have been cut off). Some of the lyrics are different in that earlier recording:

The featured LSW version that we have transcribed (the sound recording presented at the top of this posting) is from the 1960s and recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman in the Bronx. Though this version is shorter than Braginski’s, it also contains, as do almost all the versions, the rhyme katsapes (derogatory term for Russians) and lapes and the appeal to God in the last verse “to take her away from this world.”

Thanks to Lorin Sklamberg and YIVO Sound Archives for help with this week’s blog post.

TRANSCRIPTION

SPOKEN by LSW: Nokh di Kiever pogromen inem yare [yor] finef, fir, finef,  zenen gekimen tsi loyfn fin Kiev tsi indz mentshn, hot eyner mikh oysgelernt dus lidl.

In Odes af a shteyn, zitst a meydele aleyn.
Zi zitst in zi veynt.
Zi zitst in zi veynt, ir harts iz farshteynt.
A neduve bay yeydn zi beyt.

Di Kiever katsapes mit zeyere lapes
hobn getin mayn faters hoyz tsebrekhn.
Dus hoyz tsebrokhn, deym tatn geshtokhn.
Di mame iz far shrek imgekimen.

Vi groys iz mayn shand oystsushtrekn di hant
un tsu beytn bay laytn gelt, un tsi beytn bay laytn gelt.
Oy, Got derbarem, shtrek oys dayn arem.
un nem mekh shoyn tsi fin der velt.

TRANSLATION

In Odessa on a rock, sits a girl alone.
She sits and she weeps.
She sits and weeps, her heart has turned to stone.
For alms from everyone she begs.

The Kiev “lousy Russians” and their paws,
Did destroy my father’s house.
The house destroyed, my father stabbed.
My mother died of fright.

How great is my shame to hold out my hand
and to beg for money from people,
and to beg for money from people.
O, God have mercy, and stretch out your arm,
and take me away from this world.  

Screen Shot 2018-05-15 at 5.01.30 PM

“In Kiev in gas” Performed by Frima Braginski

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2018 by yiddishsong

In Kiev in gas  / In Kiev on the Street: A Pogrom Ballad
Sung by Frima Braginski
Recorded by Michael Lukin in Israel, 2013.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The first Kiev (Kyiv) pogrom happened on April 26th, 1881, and to mark this event we feature the song In Kiev, in gas – In Kiev on the Street sung by Frima Braginski.  She was born in Teplyk (Yiddish – Teplik), Ukraine (Vinnytsia Oblast) in 1924. Braginski was recorded by the ethnomusicologist Michael Lukin in 2013 in Kiryat Gat, Israel.

The first Kiev pogrom took place in May 1881. A second larger pogrom occurred there on Oct. 18th 1905. The first printing of the song appeared in an early issue of Mitteillungen von Judischen Volkskunde in 1895. There it is printed with music and called Die Bettlerin. More versions were printed in the collection Evreiskiia narodnyia piesni v Rossii (Yiddish Folksongs of Russia) of 1901, edited by S.M. Ginzburg and P.M. Marek (#58 and #59). Therefore the song clearly refers to the first pogrom of 1881. At the end of the post, we are attaching the two versions that appear in the Ginzburg and Marek collection and in the Mitteillungen.

pogromPic

Another recorded version of this song – Dortn in gas is dokh finster un nas (There in the Street It’s Dark and Damp) by an anonymous singer can be heard on the CD The Historic Collection of Jewish Music 1912 – 1947 volume 3, produced by the Vernadsky Library in St. Petersburg.

In the Sofia Magid collection of Yiddish songs, Unser rebbe, unser Stalin, edited by Elvira Gorzinger and Susi Hudak-Kazic, Harrassowitz Farlag, Wiesbaden 2008, there are four additional variants – pages 330-332 with music and recordings that can be heard on the accompanying CD/DVD. Three more variations collected by Magid are on pages 568 – 580, texts only. In Shloyme Bastomski’s collection Baym kval: yidishe folkslider, 1923, Vilne, another version is found on page 86.

This pogrom song became a ganovim-lid entitled Dos ganeyvishe lebn (The Thief’s Life) and can be found in Shmuel Lehman’s collection Ganovim-lider (Warsaw, 1928), pages 25 – 27 with music. The original pogrom-song collected by Lehman can be found on 213-214 in the same volume. All of those pages are attached at the end.

Thanks to Michael Lukin who submitted the recording of Braginski and to Robert Rothstein and Michael Alpert for their linguistic assistance.

TRANSLITERATION

In Kiev, in gas s’iz fintser un nas.
Dort zitst a meydl a sheyne.
Zi zitst un bet, bay yedn vos farbay geyt.
“Shenkt a neduve a kleyne.”

“Oy di sheyn meydl, oy di fayn meydl.
Vos hostu aza troyerike mine?
Dayn sheyne figur un dayn eydele natur –
dir past gor zayn a grafine.”

“Kiever katsapes mit zeyere lapes,
zey hobn dos alts gemakht khorev.
Dos hoyz tsebrokhn, dem futer geshtokhn,
Di muter iz far shrek geshtorbn.

Un far groys tsorn, iz der bruder in kas gevorn
un hot a merder dershosn.
Kayn yid tor nisht lebn, kayn rakhe [German – rache] tsu nemen.
Me hot im in keytn fargosn.

Vi groys iz mayn shand, tsu shtrekn di hant
un betn bay laytn gelt.
Got derbarem, shtrek oys dayne orem
un nem mikh shoyn tsu fun der velt.”

TRANSLATION

In Kiev on the street, it’s dark and damp.
there sits a pretty girl.
She sits and begs from all who pass –
“Please give some alms”.

“O, you pretty girl,  O, you fine girl.
Why do have such a sad expression?
Your nice figure, your noble nature –
You could pass for a countess.”

“Those Kiev katsapes [see note below] and their paws
have wiped out everything.
My house was destroyed. My father stabbed.
From fright my mother died.

In great anger my brother became enraged
And shot one of the murderers.
No Jew is allowed to live who takes revenge,
They led him away in chains. [Literally: They poured chains on him]

How great is my shame to stretch out my hand
And beg money from people.
O God have mercy stretch out your arm
And take me away from this world.”

*Found in almost all the variants is the rhyme “Kiever katsapes” (katsapes = a Ukrainian derogatory term for a Russian) and “lapes” (paws).

From Evreiskiia narodnyia piesni v Rossii [Yiddish Folksongs of Russia] of 1901, edited by S.M. Ginzburg and P.M. Marek (#58 & #59):
GM1
GM2

Shmuel Lehman’s collection Ganovim-lider (Warsaw, 1928), pages 25 – 27, 213-214:

Lehman1

Lehman2

Lehman3

Lehman4

Lehman5

Mark Varshavski’s “Vi halt ikh dus oys?” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2018 by yiddishsong

Vi halt ikh dus oys? – How Can One Stand It?
Words and Music: Mark Varshavski
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recorded by Leybl Kahn NYC 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Vi halt ikh dus oys is surely one of the saddest songs from a composer, Mark Varshavski (aka Warshavsky) known for his classic nostalgic and upbeat songs such as Oyfn pripetshok, Milner’s trern and Di mezinke oysgegebn.

In her brief discussion with Leybl Kahn before and after she sings, LSW connected the -message of the song to the Zionist movement; a commentary on the eternal wandering of the Jews. She also affirms that she learned it from an aunt in her small town of Zvinyetshke in the Bukovina.

For a full biography of Mark Varshavski (1848 – 1907) see the YIVO Encyclopedia.

mark varshavsky picMark Varshavski in Berdichev, 1900 (YIVO)

In her very emotional performance, the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW] stays remarkably close to the original text which is attached at the end of the post from the volume “Yidishe folkslider fun M. M. Varshavski” One interesting textual change, however, is in the line where LSW sings:

Farentfer di kashe, Got di bist groys
[Answer the question – God you are vast/supreme]

In Varshavski’s original text it reads:
S’farenfert di kashe, Got du bist groys
[The question is answered by – God you are vast/supreme]

The folklorized words by LSW address God directly, reflecting a more intimate relationship with God than in Varshavki’s version.

I could not find a previous recording of this song, neither on record, CD nor in field recordings. However, a song about Mendel Beilis and his infamous trial (1911-1913), accusing him of a blood libel is based on this Varshavski song. Lorin Sklamberg, YIVO sound archivist and lead singer for The Klezmatics, sang Dos lid fun Mendel Beilis at YIVO in 2013:

Thanks for help with this week’s post to Lorin Sklamberg.

TRANSLITERATION

Vi halt men dus oys? Farshtey ikh nisht kh’lebn.
Es iz shoyn fin Got azoy mir bashert.
Bay veymen s’iz a yontif dus shtikele leybn:
Bay mir iz dus leybn shvarts vi di erd.
Far vus un far ven, fregt mekh nit eyner.
Farentfer di kashe – Got di bist groys.
Es triknt in mir der marekh fun mayne beyner,
un ikh halt dus nit oys; ikh halt dus nit oys.

Vi halt men dus oys? Es iz avade a vinder.
Vi ikh shlep mayne krank, geshvolene fis.
Ikh blondze arim mit mayne ureme kinder
un vi ikh kim iz finster in vist.
A du ken ikh nisht shteyn, a du tor men nit lign.
azoy tsit men fin mir mayne koykhes aroys.
Vu ikh gey her ikh eyn nign –
Ikh halt dus nit oys; ikh halt dus nit oys.

A yeder fin aykh, say rakh say urem,
hot dus alte beys-oylem shoyn gezeyn.
Dort lign alte, tsebrokhene kvurim,
un fun dort hert men a geveyn.
Azoy iz tsebrokhn iz mir yeder eyver,
di velt iz mir fintster khotshe zi iz groys.
Oy, dek dikh af gikher, di fintserer keyver.
Vayl ikh halt dus nit oys, ikh halt dus nit oys.

TRANSLATION

How can one stand this? I swear I don’t understand.
It must be decreed from God.
For those who enjoy a little of life –
For me is life black as the earth.
Why and for what reason? No one asks me.
Answer the question, God you are supreme.
The marrow of my bones is drying
and I can no longer stand it, I can no longer stand it.

How can I stand it? It is truly a wonder.
I drag my sick, swollen legs.
I wander aimlessly with my poor children
and wherever I come, I feel dark and deserted.
There I may not stand; here I may not lay.
And in this way my strength disspipates.
Wherever I go I hear only one tune –
I cannot stand this; I can no longer stand this.

Each of you, the rich and the poor
has surely seen out Jewish cemetery.
There lay old, broken graves
and from deep in the graves one hears a cry.
Thus is broken in me every limb.
The world is as dark as it is vast.
O, cover me up you dark grave
Because I can no longer take it, I can no longer take it.

vi halt 1 yidvi halt 2 yid

warshavkiBookWarshavski1Warshavski2

“Ver s’hot nor in blat gelezn: Der Bialystoker pogrom” Performed by Frahdl Post

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2018 by yiddishsong

Ver s’hot nor in blat gelezn: Der Bialystoker pogrom
Whoever has Read the Newspaper: The Bialystok Pogrom

Performance by Frahdl Post, Recorded by Wolf Younin 1970s.

This week’s song was submitted by Henry Carrey. The singer Frahdl Post is his grandmother, the mother of a previously featured singer, Leah Post Carrey (aka Leyke Post). Frahdl was born in Zhitomir, Ukraine in 1881 and died at the Workmen’s Circle Home for the Aged in the Bronx in 1976.

Carrey writes:

“Frahdl Herman Postalov, a/k/a Fannie Post, grew up in Zhitomir, Ukraine in a lower middle-class home, one of four sisters and two brothers. Her father Dovid-Hersh Herman had a shop where grain was sold. His wife, Rivke Kolofsky worked in the shop.

FrahdlPost

Frahdl Post

As a young girl, she always like to sing and dance and took part in amateur theatricals. Performing ran in the family. Her father was  a part-time cantor with a pleasant voice and Frahdl and her brother Pinye teamed up to perform at local parties. She told us that she learned her vast repertoire of many-versed songs by going to a store with friends every day where newly written songs would be purchased and then shared by the girls. She also used to stand in the street outside the local jail and learn revolutionary songs from the prisoners who could be heard through the windows. She remembered attending revolutionary meetings in the woods, and singing all the revolutionary songs, although she herself was not an activist.

One day she went to a fortune-teller who told her that her future husband was waiting at home. When she got home, she saw my grandfather, Shloyme, who had been boarding with her aunt. In 1907 they married and within a year her husband Shloyme was off to America to seek his fortune leaving a pregnant wife. Frahdl and my mother Leyke left to join him about four years later in 1913.

Eventually she got to Halifax, Nova Scotia but was denied entry to the US because she had a highly contagious disease called trachoma. Fortunately, she was somehow allowed into Canada instead of being sent back to Europe  as was customary. After four months of treatment in Montreal , Frahdl was cured and they left for Boston, where my grandfather had settled. Frahdl had two more children Rose and Hymie in the next three years.

During the 1920’s, Shloyme decided to move from Boston and start a tire business for Model-T’s in Arlington – a suburb of Boston where there were only three other Jewish families. However, my grandmother still took the tram into the West End of Boston to buy most of her food.  Understandably , the children  were influenced by the non-Jews around them and once brought a “Chanukah Bush” home and put up stockings on the mantel. My grandmother threw the tree out and filled the stockings with coal and onions from “Sente Closet”.  My mother, Leyke, who even at a young age was a singer, had been secretly singing with the Methodist choir. One day the minister came to the door to ask my grandmother’s permission to allow my mother to sing in church on Christmas Eve. That was the last straw for my grandmother and they moved back to the West End.

My grandmother always sang around the house both the Yiddish and Ukrainian folksongs she had learned in Zhitomir and the new Yiddish theater songs she heard from other people or later on the radio and on recordings. All the children learned the songs and Leyke incorporated them into her repertoire when she became a professional singer.”

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

The song Ver s’hot nor in blat gelezn describes the Bialystok pogrom which occurred on June 1, 1906. Two hundred Jews were killed and seven hundred wounded – a particularly violent pogrom.

A number of verses are similar to other pogrom songs. The same song but only five verses long, with a reference to a pogrom in Odessa (1871? 1881? 1905?) is heard on Ruth Rubin’s Folkways album The Old Country and is printed in the YIVO collection Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive sung by Mr. Persky of Montreal. We have attached two scans of the song as it appears in the book, words and melody.

Click here for a previous posting about another song about pogroms (including Bialystok).

There it is noted that “The song is folklorized from a poem by Abraham Goldfaden, Di holoveshke (The Ember). I find only the third verse of Goldfaden’s poem to be adapted in this song. Three scans of Goldfaden’s original poem are attached as they appear in the 1891 edition of Dos yidele. In Post’s version it is the fifth verse.

In the Frahdl Post recording, the 10th verse ends abruptly before the song’s conclusion. Fortunately, Henry Carrey was able to add the last verse (and an alternate line) based on other recordings of his grandmother, so the transcription and translation include this final verse but it is cut off in the audio recording.

Wolf Younin (1908 – 1984), who recorded this song, was a well-known Yiddish poet, lyricist (Pozharne komande, Zing shtil, Der yid, der shmid, Ober morgn) and journalist. His column Shprakhvinkl included much Jewish folklore. Younin’s NY Times obituary is available here:

Thanks to Henry Carrey for this week’s post. The transliteration is based on his version. I changed some words to reflect her dialect.

TRANSLITERATION

Ver s’hot nor di blat geleyzn
Fun der barimter shtot Bialistok
Vos far an imglik dort iz geveyzn
In eyne tsvey dray teg.

Plitsling, hot men oysgeshrign,
“Shlugt di yidn vi vat ir kent! “
Shteyner in di fenster hobn genumen flien.
A pogrom hot zikh oysgerisn in eyn moment.

Blit gist zikh shoyn  in ale gasn,
In se shpritst zikh shoyn oyf di vent.
Yidn hot men geharget, oysgeshlugn.
Mit zeyer blit hot men gemult di vent.

Dort shteyt a kale oyf di harte shteyner,
Ungetun in ir vays khipe-kleyd
Un leybn ir shteyt a  merder eyner
un er halt dem khalef in der hant gegreyt.

Dort ligt a froy , a yinge,  a sheyne,
farvorfn, farshmitst ligt zi oyfn mist.
Leybn ir ligt a kind a kleyne;
zi tit ir zoygn ir toyte kalte brist.

Vi zey zaynen nor in shtub arayngekimen,
un zey hobn di mentshn git gekent.
Vus iz geveyn in shtib hobn zey tsebrokhn.
Di mentshn upgeshnitn hobn zey di hent.

Vi zey zaynen nor in shtub arayngekimen,
Mit ayn tuml, mit a groysn rash.
Vus iz geven in shtub hobn zey tsebrokhn,
Kleyne kinder arupgevorfn funem dritn antash.

Ver s’iz  baym umglik nisht geveyzn
Un er hot dem tsorn nisht gezeyn.
Mentshn hobn geshrign “Oy vey un vind is mir”.
Aroysgelozt hobn zey a groys geveyn.

Vi men hot zey in hospital arayngebrakht,
Keyner hot zey gor nisht derkent.
Mentshn hobn geshrign “ Oy, vey un vind is mir”.
Zey hobn gebrokhn mit di hent.

Oy, du Got, [Recording ends at this point ]

Oy, du Got du bist a guter,
Far vo’zhe kukstu nisht fun himl arop ?
Vi mir laydn shver un biter
[Or alternate line: Batrakht zhe nor dem yidishn tuml]|
Farvos dayne yidn, zey kumen op.

TRANSLATION

Who has not read in the papers
Of the well-known city Bialystok
Of the tragedy that befell it.
in a matter of three days.

Suddenly someone cried out
“Beat the Jews as much as you can!”
Stones thrown at windows started flying
A pogrom erupted in one moment.

Blood already flows in all the streets
And is spurting already on the walls.
Jews were killed and beaten
With their blood the walls were painted.

There stands a bride on the hard stones
Dressed in her white bridal gown.
Next to her stands a murderer
And he holds the knife ready in his hand.

There lies a woman, young and beautiful
Abandoned, tortured, she lay on the garbage,
And next to her lies a small child
She nurses it from her dead, cold breast.

As soon as they entered the house
And they knew the people well,
Whatever was in the house they broke
The people’s hands they cut off.

As soon as they came into the house
With  noise and violence
Whatever was in the house they broke;
Small children were thrown down from the third floor.

Whoever was not at this tragedy
Did not see this great anger.
People yelled “O woe is me”
Letting out a great cry.

When they brought them to the hospital
No one could recognize them.
People cried out “Woe is me”
And wrung their hands .

Oy God [recording ends here but should continue with…]

Oy God you are good
why don’t you look down from heaven?
How we suffer hard and bitter
[alternate line: “Look upon this Jewish chaos”
Why your Jews are so punished.

bialystok yid1bialystok yid2bialystok yid3

Ver es hot in blat gelezn (From YIVO publication Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive):

bialystok lyrics

ruth rubin post 2

Abraham Goldfaden’s poem Di holoveshke (The Ember), published in Dos yidele (1891)

ember1

ember2

ember3

ember4

ember5

A Second Melody for “Katshke grin” Performed by Abba Rubin

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2018 by yiddishsong

A Second Melody for “Katshke grin”
Performed by Abba Rubin, recorded by Rachel Rubin 1991.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

The Yiddish children’s song “Katshke grin”, also known as “Geyt arum a grine katshke” and “Grine katshke”,  has been recorded but with a different melody. This week we present a previously unknown melody for the song. The singer, Abba Rubin, was recorded by his daughter Rachel Rubin at the same field recording session as the previously posted Burekes af Peysekh in 1991.

greenduck

The words to Katshke grin were written by artist and writer Zuni Maud (1891 – 1956) and printed in Kinder Zhurnal, a monthly Yiddish children’s magazine published by the Sholem Aleichem Folk Institute in NYC, where he often contributed poetry and drawings.

Zuni Maud’s frequent collaborator was artist/writer Yosl Cutler and together they created the first successful Yiddish puppet theater Modicut (1925 – 1933) in NY. According to Edward Portnoy who wrote on the radical Modicut troupe, Mikhl Gelbart and Moyshe Rappaport wrote much of the music for Modicut, so perhaps one of them was the composer of one or both of the melodies.

Mariam Nirenberg sings Grine katshke with another melody on her record Folksongs in the East European Tradition: Mariam Nirenberg (Global Village GV M117).  You can hear Niremberg’s version on iTunes. She only sings one verse and the duck has a red nose, not a broad one as in Rubin’s version. Nirenberg emigrated from her town Czarnawcyce, Poland (Yiddish = Tsharnovtshits) to Canada in 1932.

The song, with Nirenberg’s melody, become more popular recently thanks to the CD recording Di grine katshke/The Green Duck (Living Traditions, 1997).  There it is sung with four verses by Henry Sapoznik.

Thanks for their help for this week’s post go to Abba Rubin, Edward Portnoy and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. 

TRANSLITERATION

Katshke grin, breyte noz
un keyner veyst nisht vos iz dos.

Geyt arum a grine katshke,
geyt arum un trakht.
volt zi davenen shakhris
falt shoyn tsu di nakht.

Katshke grin, breyte noz
un keyner veyst nisht vos iz dos.

Geyt arum a grine katshke
geyt arum un kayt.
Volt zi brokn lokshn
hot zi nit keyn tsayt.

Katshke grin, breyte noz
un keyner veyst nisht vos iz dos.

Geyt arum a grine katshke
mit a breyter noz.
Volt zi shmekn tabak
hot zi nisht mit vos.

Kashke grin, breyte noz
un keyner veyst nisht vos iz dos.

TRANSLATION

Green duck, wide nose,
and no one knows what this is.

A green duck wanders,
wanders and thinks:
She would pray the morning prayers
but night has just fallen.

Green duck, wide nose,
and no one knows what this is.

A green duck wanders,
wanders and chews.
She would cut up the noodles,
but she doesn’t have the time.

Green duck, wide nose,
and no one knows what this is.

A green duck wanders,
with a wide nose.
She would smell tobacco,
but she doesn’t have with what.

Green duck, wide nose,
and no one knows what this is.

katchke1katchke2katchke3