Archive for Jacob Gorelik

“Mentshn getraye: a matse-podriad lid” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This year’s Passover is now complete, so please save this song for next year’s festival!

Mentshn getraye: a matse-podriad lid is the second matse-baking song we have posted on Yiddish Song of the Week. The first was “Mir nemen veytslekh”, sung by Dora Libson.  Mentshn getraye was recorded from Jacob Gorelik by Michael Alpert and me in New York City in 1984, and Alpert later recorded his own performance of the song on the Lori Cahan-Simon Ensemble’s CD Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me: Volume One: Passover.

MatseBaking

Pre-war matse baking [from the Yad-Vasham Photo Archives]

In this posting we present original field recording of that song. The tradition of Matse-podriad continues in religious Jewish circles today and one can see samples of it on the internet. The spirit has remained jovial, often musical, over the years. Here is a current example with the Mishkoltz Rebbe:

Jacob Gorelik introduces the song with these words:  “…the second song I heard in my town. My mother and other mothers sang it. It was called the “Matse-podriad-lid”.  In town there was a custom, that once a year when Passover came, money was collected especially for poor people who could not buy matse, could not buy wine. Help! No way to celebrate Passover. It [custom] was called moes-khitin. That was one thing.

The second thing was – the matse was the primary thing. So the whole town got together and there was complete unity – the orthodox, the “modern” ones, the Zionists,  Bundists, socialists. They used to rent a house with an oven, and buy wood, buy flour and hire people to bake the matse. And this was called a community “matea bakery” by the entire Jewish community.

And as someone once asked – when you sing, or you do something good – do you do it for youself or for the other person? It was a combination. One had it mind that you were doing it for the poor. You were baking matse for them. But at the same time, at that time it was a joy in town becasue it was  a boring life.  It was also an opportunity for girls and boys to get together. And we used to sing and this is one of those songs that were sung. Who composed the song…This song is light verse. It’s not ‘pure’ poetry; but it’s humorously colored. According to what Mendel Elkin once told me the writer was Tunkel – or “The Tunkeler” [The dark one] his pseudonym.

The melody, I learned later when I was living in America, comes from a Ukrainian song “Nutshe Khloptse”. And now the song:

Mentshn getraye, farnumene un fraye,
Bay vemen es iz nor tsayt faran.
Git aher ayer pratse, un helft bakn matse,
dem noyt-baderftikn man.

Hentelekh ir kleyne, eydele un sheyne,
bikhelekh nor trogn ir kent.
Pruvt nor visn, eyn mol in Nisan
dem tam fun mazolyes af di hent.

Ir gvirishe meydlekh, helft kneytn teyglekh
mit ayere vaysinke hent.
Teygelekh geknotn vi Got hot gebotn,
Kosher un erlekh un fayn.

Spoken: A freylekhn Peysekh! Flegt men zogn  alemen.

TRANSLATION

Dear people, those who are busy, and those who are free.
Whoever has some time to spare.
Donate your labor to help bake matse
for the man in need.

Little hands, delicate and beautiful,
who only could carry books.
Get to know at least once during the month of Nisan,
the taste of calluses on your hands.

You well-off girls, help knead the dough
with your white hands.
Flour all kneaded, as God has commanded,
Kosher, and honest and fine

Spoken: “Happy Passover!” Is what we wished everyone.

MatsaBakingYID-page-001MatsaBakingYID-page-002

CROP 3 MatsaBakingYID-page-003

Though Gorelick was from Byelorussia, the song text is also found in the writings of Galician writer Soma Morgenstern, who quotes it in his book “The Third Pillar” (1955), page 59, translated from the German [see below]. I have yet to find this poem in Der Tunkeler’s writings.

Morgenstern Cropped

“Dos fleshl/Tshort vos’mi” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2013 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Jane Peppler

Researching “Cabaret Warsaw,” a cd of music created and performed by Jews in Warsaw between the wars, I was pointed to a 1929 book called “35 letste teatr lider fun Azazel un Sambatiyon” (Azazel and Sambatiyon being two kleynkunst venues popular at the time). I found the book at Brooklyn’s Chasidic “Library Of Agudas,” along with six tiny books of theater songs and monologues (lyrics only) published in 1933 and 1934 by bookseller and record shop owner Itzik Zhelonek (Zielonek). I decided to track down the melodies for as many of these songs as possible (for more information click here); Itzik Gottesman sent me a version of one of them sung by Jacob Gorelik – this week’s Yiddish Song of the Week, known as “Dos fleshl” (the bottle) or “Tshort vos’mi” (The Devil Take’s It).
fleshele pic

Gorelik learned the song from a guy in Central Park – back when it was a place people went to “sing and play” (he contrasted that to its present reputation as a place to buy drugs). He didn’t know the man, or where the song came from, but he said it shares its melody with the Russian song “Kare Glaski” (“Brown Eyes,” see Russian lyrics below).

The words Gorelik sang were quite different from the lyric printed in “35 letste teatr lider” (texts to both versions are below). Sometimes singers “folk process” what they’ve heard, or they forget the words and re-imagine them from scratch.

Here is the song as sung by Jacob Gorelik, recorded in his NYC apartment, 1985, by Itzik Gottesman:

Gorelik’s spoken introduction, transcribed and translated by Itzik Gottesman:

Dos Fleshl introduction YiddishA special genre of songs are about drunks. Because, basically, the background of every drunk is a sad one: a person is not born drunk – troubles, bad habits, bad family; the father was a drunk. And here we have a song of a drunk, and he tells us, more or less, of his life. I don‘t know the father, the mother [of the song]; I don‘t know who wrote the song and who created the melody. Possibly it‘s an old theater song, very possiblew but it has the taste of a folksong. I heard it my first years in America in Central Park. I lived then at 110th street, near the park. And in those years the park was not just a place to sell drugs, or for other deviates. The park was the for the youth. We came and sang, played, sang. We were not afraid. We even slept there till 2:00 at night near the reservoir. And there I heard someone sing this song of a drunk. I don‘t remember his name.

The song of a drunk – ‘Tshort Voz’mi’, which means – The Devil Take It.
Gorelik’s version, transcribed and translated by Jane Peppler:

Yo, hob ikh in der velt alts farlorn
A yosim geblibn bin ikh fri
Mayne fraynt hob ikh, hob ikh shoyn lang farlorn
Mayn fraynt iz nor dos fleshl, tshort voz’mi

I’ve lost everything in this world,
I was orphaned at an early age.
I lost my friends long ago,
Only my bottle is my friend
The devil take it.

Ikh hob a mol a nomen gehat
azoy vi di greste aristokrasi
un haynt hob ikh im shoyn lang fargesn
vi ruft men mikh, freg baym fleshl, tshort voz’mi

I used to have a name like the great aristocrats
Now I’ve forgotten my former reputation,
What people call me now, ask the bottle
The devil take it.

Ikh hob a mol a heym gehat
Ergets vayt, ikh veys nisht vu
Haynt gey ikh arum na venad
Vu iz mayn heym?
Freg baym fleshl, tshort voz’mi

I used to have a home somewhere
Far away, I don’t know where.
Now I go around without a homeland.
Where is my home? Ask the bottle.
The devil take it.

Ikh hob a mol a gelibte gehat
Iz zi dokh tsu a tsveytn avek
Un haynt hob ikh fil, un lib nisht keyner
Mayn gelibte iz nor dos fleshl, tshort voz’mi

I used to have a sweetheart,
She’s left me for someone else.
And now I have so much, but I don’t love anybody
My sweetheart? Just this bottle.
The devil take it.

Here is the text printed in the 1929 collection:

Geven bin ikh a mentsh eyner
Bakant geven in der gantser velt
Haynt iz far mir alesding farlorn
Tsulib dir, mayn fleshele, okh! Tshort vosmi!

I used to be well known in the whole world
Now everything is lost to me because of you, my bottle,
The devil take it

Gehat hob ikh a kale Gitele
Antlofn iz zi, der tayvl veyst vu
Zi hot mir geton mayn lebn derkutshen
Tsulib dir, mayn fleshele, okh! tshort vosmi!

I had a bride, Gitele,
She’s run away, the devil knows where
She tormented my life thanks to you, my bottle
The devil take it

Men varft mir shteyner nokh in di gasn
“Shlogt im!” shrayt men, “dem bosyak.”
Zogt mir, menshn, farvos tut ir mikh hasn?
Tsulib dir, mayn fleshele, okh! Tshort vozmi!


People throw stones at me in the street.
“Hit that bum,” they cry,
Tell me, people, why do you hate me?
Because of you, my little bottle,
Oh, the devil take it.

Vu iz mayn foter? Vu iz mayn muter?
Vu iz mayn heymat, zogt mir vu?
Fun vandern iz mir shoyn mayn lebn farmiest
Tsulib dir, mayn fleshele, okh! Tsort vozmi!

Where is my father? My mother?
My homeland? Tell me, where?
My life is ruined by wandering,
Because of you, my little bottle
The devil take it.

S’vert mir erger in di letste tsaytn
Kh’bin shoyn alt un krank un farshmakht
Un, ikh shtarb avek, mayne libe laytn,
durkh dir, mayn fleshele, oy, a gute nakht!

Lately things have gotten worse for me,
I’m old and sick and languishing
I’m dying, my dear people,
Because of you, my little bottle,
oy, good night!

Yiddish text – Gorelik’s version:

dos fleshele yiddish 1

dos fleshele yiddish 2

Карие глазки (Brown Eyes)

Карие глазки, где вы скрылись.
Мне вас больше не видать.
Куда вы скрылись, запропали,
Навек заставили страдать.

Выньте сердце, положите
На серебряный поднос.
Вы возьмите, отнесите
Сердце другу, пока спит.

Мил проснётся, ужахнётся.
Милый помнит обо мне.
Мил потужит, погорюет
По несчастной сироте.

“Tunkl brent a fayer” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

For more on Jacob (Yankev) Gorelik see the previous post on “A baysphil.” He sang Tunkl brent a fayer (“A Fire Burns Dimly”) in his apartment in the “Chelsea hayzer” (Penn south), on 7th avenue and 25th street in Manhattan, circa 1985.  This song about an “agune,” a women who was abandoned by their husband, is part of a genre of agune-songs in Yiddish. Chaim Grade’s Yiddish novel The Agunah (translated in English with that title) depicts the complexity of dealing with the agune, and the rabbinic disagreements over when to declare the woman free to remarry.

I believe one hears the influence of the great singer Sidor Belarsky in Gorelik’s singing, even when he sings his mother’s songs from his hometown. I have included the spoken introduction below because it was typical of how Gorelik would frame a song he was about to perform for a larger audience. It’s interesting how he implies that by attending the Yiddish theater, the immigrant was thereby just a short hop from meeting new women and abandoning the wife in the old country.

The scanned music and words are from the songbook Songs of Generations compiled by Chana and Yosl Mlotek. Gorelik had, apparently, sent Tunkl brent a fayer to the Mloteks  who ran a column “Readers remember” in the Yiddish Forward newspaper. Chana Mlotek continued to write the column  after Yosl Mlotek’s death in 2000.

A song of an “agune,” an abandoned woman, that I heard from my mother, may she rest in peace.

There was a time, the emigration, the great emigration at the beginning of the 20th century and earlier, and many wandered out to America. Towns were emptied out. Many women remained with children. They didn’t hear anything from their husbands. Some were faithful and sent over their most recent earnings to their wives; shared it with their wives and children.

Others forgot. In the “Golden Land” they forgot about their old home. They wanted a little joy and happiness and started to go to the theater; met other women and forgot that they had “an old home,” a wife and child. And such women were called “agune” – “she was connected” as long as the husband did not free her. And songs were composed on this on the spot.

I had heard such a song among the folk, and another one I heard from my mother, may she rest in peace. She had a golden voice when she sang. In general my mother sang minor-keyed (sad) songs.

„A bayshpil‟ sung by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , on March 15, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

Jacob (Yankev) Gorelik was born in Schedrin (Shchadryn, Scadryn) Belarus, and came to the US in the 1920s. This performance was recorded at a concert in New York City on November 10th, 1990, organized by Center for Traditional Music and Dance, then called the Ethnic Folk Arts Center. This event was part of The Yiddish Folksong Project which had similar aims to the current An-sky Folkore Research Project. Other singers performing that evening were Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman and Paula Teitelbaum. We eventually hope to post some of their performances from that concert as well. Gorelik died in Miami in the late 1990s.

Sketch of Jacob Gorelik by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Jacob Gorelik performed for all the sectors of the Yiddish world – left, center and right – and never mixed politics with art. He had written down the words for the songs he performed in a small notebook which was bursting at the seams after he kept stuffing little notes inside it, so he used rubber bands to keep it together. You can see a clip of him singing with his book in a documentary on Jews in Miami Beach made in the 80s or 90s by Joel Saxe called „The Yiddish Folksingers of Miami.”

The song „A bayshpil‟ (An Example) is a version of „Der alter foter‟ (the old father) by Elyokum Zunser, probably the most famous and popular badkhn of his time (1836-1913). I have scanned the original version of this song in Yiddish as it appears in his collected works, Elyokum Zunzers verk edited by Mordkhe Schaechter, YIVO, NY 1964. p. 242-243, first published in Zunser‘s collection Hamenagin, 1873.

One quick episode from Zunser‘s autobiography which was unforgettable when I read it: his wife fell asleep in a horse and wagon with their baby on her lap in the woods during winter. When she woke up, she realized the baby fell off the wagon and when they went to retrieve it, wolves were in the middle of devouring it.

Zunser‘s songs, in my opinion, aren‘t particularly catchy or melodic, but he was a badkhn/wedding performer who emphasized the ethics of Jewish life, rather than the entertainment value of his work. Gorelik learned this song from his mother in Schedrin and his clear tenor expresses the message beautifully.

A bayshpil ken ikh aykh mentshn gebn,
dem sof fun mir batrakht atsind.
Es iz beser af der velt nit tsu lebn,
eyder onkumen tsu a kind.

An example, i can give you people,
the end of me, please consider.
It is better not to live in this world,
than to depend on your child.

ikh hob ongelebt yorn
mit koved un mit gelt,
gehandlt un geforn,
gefirt gants sheyn mayn velt.

I lived out my years,
in honor and with wealth,
did business and traveled,
and led a beautiful world.

Fardint gor sheyn mayn gildn,
mit kredit, mit erlekhkayt.
gelozt kinder bildn,
zey zoln vern layt.

I earned a pretty penny,
with credit, with honesty.
I gave my children an education,
they should become decent people.

Mayn gvirishaft, mayn gantse kraft.
Tsu mayne kinder ver ikh on;
haynt iz far mir, farshpart di tir
Ikh hob zikh nit vu ahintsuton.

My fortitude, my whole strength,
I lost it all for my children.
Today the door is locked for me.
I don‘t have anywhere to go.

Far kinder hob ikh mayn haldz geshnitn
gevorn gro un oysgedart.
Brider, got zol aykh bahitn,
aza elter vi ikh hob zikh dervart.

For my children, I cut my throat,
became gray and thin.
Brother, may God protect you,
from such elderly years as i had waiting for me.

Ay, ikh hob ertseygn [dialect form of „ertsoygn‟],
mayn kind, mayn bkhor aleyn,
hob ikh tsefoylt di oygn
fun trern, fun geveyn.

O, I raised
my child, my eldest son by myself,
and thereby ruined by eyes,
with tears, with laments.

Rubls iz geshvumen
un kreftn vert men on,
eyder zey bakumen,
in moyl dem ershtn tson,

Rubles were swimming [are spent?],
and one loses one‘s strength,
before they get,
their first tooth in their mouth.

Di pokelekh, di mozelekh,
der tate shtelt zayn lebn ayn in kon.
Haynt traybt men mikh, aroys fun kikh,
ikh hob zikh nit vu ahintsuton.

The pocks, the measles;
the father risks his life.
Today, I am driven out of the kitchen,
I don‘t have anywhere to go.