Archive for Mayer Kirshenblatt

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):