Archive for khaper

“Bin ikh mir geshtanen” Performed by Nochem Yood

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Bin ikh mir geshtanen / I was standing there
A 19th century “khaper” song from Czarist Army
Sung by Nochem Yood

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This 19th century song describes the khapers, the “catchers”  – the despised Jews who caught boys to fulfill the Jewish quota for the Czarist army. Apparently the “khapers” only existed from 1852 – 1855, but in folk memory they were active the entire time of Czar Nicholas l’s conscription program.

soldiers passoverJewish Soldiers at Passover Seder, 1902 (Zionist Archive)

The singer is the Yiddish poet Nochem Yood (Nokhem Yerusalimtshik (1888-1966). He was born in Bobr, Belarus and came to the United States in 1916. The recording was made in the 1950s or early 1960s but he had sung this same song for the folklorist I. L Cahan in the 1920s and Cahan published it in the volume Pinkes 1927-1928 (New York) with no music. There the song was called Dos lid fun di khapers (The song of the khapers). It was reprinted, still just the lyrics, in I. L. Cahan’s Yidishe folkslider, YIVO 1957, page 373-374 (scans are attached below). For that version Nochem Yood sang eighteen verses; here he sings eleven verses.

Nochem YoodNochem Yood 

The other voice on the recording, clearly a landsman from Bober who tries to remember more verses, is for the time being unidentified.

There is a version with music in the periodical Yidisher folklor # 1, NY, 1954, from the A. Litvin Collection at YIVO. Chana Mlotek wrote the commentary there and included information on other versions; some of them quite long.  A scan of that page is also attached.

It is interesting that Cahan did not include the “Ay-ay-ay” chorus in his version. The “Ay-ay-ay” chorus as heard in this Nochem Yood recording gives the song the feeling of a communal performance or a work song. Other versions do include a similar chorus.

Thanks with help for this post to Yelena Shmulenson, Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer.

TRANSLITERATION

[Bin ikh mir geshtanen] baym foter afn hoyf
her ikh a geshrey “Yungerman antloyf!”
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Bin ikh mir gelofn in a gertndl bald.
Biz ikh bin gekumen in a tifn vald.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Dray teg un dray nekht nit gegesn, nit getrunken
nor mit di eygelekeh tsu Got gevunken.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Gib ikh zikh a ker in der zayt
Ersht ikh derze a shtibele nit vayt.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Balebostitshke, balebostitshke efnt mir of di tir,
hot rakhmones un git a kuk af mir.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Eyder ikh hob nit tsayt optsubentshn
dan zaynen gekumen di khapermentshn.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Yidelekh vos zayt ir gekumen tsu forn?
Mir zaynen nit gekumen nokh veyts un af korn.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Ir zayt nit gekumen nokh veyts un af korn.
Ir zayt dokh gekumen af mayne yunge yorn.
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

Shtelt men mikh avek untern mos
un me git a geshrey “Molodyets, kharosh!”
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

Beser tsu lernen khumesh mit Rashe.
Eyder tsu esn di soldatske kashe.
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

Beser tsu lebn in tsores un neyt
eyder tsu esn dem keysers breyt.
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

TRANSLATION

I was standing in my father’s yard
when I heard a yell “young man, run away!”
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

So I ran into a nearby garden,
till I came upon a deep forest.
Ay….

Three days I didn’t eat, didn’t drink,
only winking with my eyes to God.
Ay…..

I  made a turn to the side
and before me stood a nearby house.
Ay….

Lady of the house open up the door,
have pity and take a look at me.
Ay….

Before I had time to finish saying the blessings,
the khapers had arrived.
Ay…

Dear Jews why have you come?
We have not come for wheat nor for rye.
Ay…

You have not come for wheat nor rye.
You have come for my young years.
Ay…

They stand me up for measurement
and exclaim “Attaboy!, Well done!”
Ay…

Better to learn Bible and Rashi
than to eat the soldier’s kasha.
Ay….

Better to live with troubles and want
than to eat the bread of the Czar
Ay…
binikh1binikh2binikh3

From I. L. Cahan’s Yidishe folkslider, YIVO 1957, page 373-374:

Cahan1
Cahan2

Yidisher folklor # 1, NY, 1954, from the A. Litvin Collection at YIVO:

mlotek 1

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