Archive for Michael Alpert

“Mame a kholem” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2018 by yiddishsong
Mame, a kholem (Mother, A Dream)
Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
recorded by Leybl Kahn, NY 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The motif of the lover who returns as a beggar is as old as Homer’s Odyssey and is found in ballads throughout the world. In this Yiddish ballad version, the former lover is not disguised as a beggar but has indeed become one because of his “character”.

JewishBeggar by Rembrandt“Jewish Beggar” by Rembrandt

I consider this ballad to be one of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman’s [LSW] masterpieces. Not only because it is certainly among the older songs in her repertoire, but because of the deeply emotional way she performs it, concluding with the dramatic last verse in which the woman reveals to her mother who is at the door.

In typical old ballad style, the dialogue prevails: first between mother and daughter, then between daughter and beggar (former lover) and finally, again, between daughter and mother. There is a break in the narrative after the third verse when the dialogue changes and at this point Leybl Kahn, who is recording the song, feels compelled to ask LSW to continue.

This transition from third to fourth verse is noteworthy. A new plot/scene develops at this point. It leads me to believe that originally there might have been two ballads that were combined to form one.

Supporting this idea are the awkward transitions between the two scenes in all the versions. We also have examples of separate ballads. Singer/researcher Michael Alpert recorded Fanya Moshinskaya, (born 1915 in Babyi Yar, Kiev), singing a ballad of the first scene – ‘Oy a kholem’. And he has recorded Bronya Sakina (1910 – 1988) from Olvanisk (Holovanivsk/Golovanevsk, Ukraine) singing a ballad – “Derbaremt aykh”- depicting the beggar/lover scene. Alpert currently sings both of them and sometimes combines them.

In addition, there are two other versions of just the beggar/lover ballad with no first “kholem” part in the Soviet Folklor-lider volume 2 1936, page 202-204,. Song #62  – “Shoyn dray yor az ikh shpil a libe” and #63 – “Vi azoy ikh her a lirnik shpiln”.  The singer for #62 was Rive Diner from Bila Tserkva, Ukraine, 1926. The singer for #63 was Yekhil Matekhin from Sobolivke, Ukraine, recorded in 1925.

A nine-verse Odessa variant without music of the LSW combined ballad – “Oj, a xolem hot zix mir gexolemt” – can be found in Folklor-lider volume 2 1936, page 201-202 song# 61. This was republished by Moyshe Beregovski with music in his Jewish Folk Songs (1962) #34 pp. 75-77, reprinted in Mark Slobin’s Beregovski compendium Old Jewish Folk Music 1982, p. 353 – 355. The singer was Dine Leshner from Odessa, 1930.

In Leshner’s ballad, the transition verse between the two scenes, verse four, is presented in first person from the beggar’s viewpoint, not in dialogue. It would be quite confusing for the listener to figure out who is speaking, and I imagine the singer would almost be required to stop singing and indicate who is speaking (as LSW does at this transition point!).

Another variant of the combined version was collected by Sofia Magid in 1934 in a Belarus kolkhoz “Sitnya”, from the singer Bronya Vinokur (PON 103, full text on page 580, “Unser Rebbe, unser Stalin” edited by Elvira Grozinger and Susi Hudak-Lazic, 2008. The audio recording can be heard on the accompanying DVD). The initial dialogue is between a man and his mother. He then travels to the rebbe, and comes to her as a beggar. She curses him in the last verse.

Oyb du host a froy mit a kleyn kind,
Zolstu zikh muttsen [mutshn] ale dayne yor.
Oyb du host mir frier nit genumen,
Konstu sheyn nit zayn mayn por.

If you have a wife and child,
May you suffer all your years.
If you did not take me before,
Then you can no longer be my match.

Hardly the romantic ending we find in the LSW version.

I would like to take the liberty of suggesting some word changes in LSW’s version for any singers out there thinking of performing the song. These suggestions are based on the other versions and on the way LSW’s daughter, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG] sang the song.

1) Clearly the last line in the first verse of LSW’s ballad, which doesn’t rhyme with “gedakht”, is a mistake. BSG sang instead the rhymed line –

“Az mayn gelibter shteyt baym bet bay nakht” [“That my lover is standing at my bed at night”]

But in Magid’s version and in the Alpert/ Moshinskaya’s version this line reads  – “un fun mir hot er zikh oysgelakht” (and he laughed at me”) And in the Folklor-lider version the line reads “un fun mir hot er khoyzek gemakht” (“and he mocked me”)  So the mocking of the girl is the “character” flaw that results in his becoming a beggar.

2) Instead of “futerland” Bronya Sakina sang “geboyrn-land” which strikes me as folkier and more appropriate, though in one of the Folklor-lider versions, the daughter does use “foterland” as well.

3) Instead of LSW’s “derkh mayn kharakter”, – “because of my character”, – others sing “durkh a libe” and “durkh a gelibter– “because of a love”, “because of beloved”. This also strikes me as the older concept and more in line with the whole song.

4)  Instead of  LSW’s “untershtitsung” – “nedove” is more traditional.  Both mean “alms”, “donation”.

5) LSW sings “iftsishteln di hant” – “to raise up the hand”. Usually that would be “oystsushtrekn di hant” – “to reach out your hand”.

6) For the last line she sings “vayl dos iz der velkher iz mayn gelibter geveyn.” (“because this is the one who was my lover”) but shorter and to the point is “vayl dos iz mayn gelibter geveyn” (because he was my lover”). BSG sang it this way.

TRANSLITERATION
1)  Mame, a khulem hot zikh mir gekhulemt,
Oy, mame, a khulem hot zikh mir gedakht.
Oy, a khulem hot zikh mir gekhulemt,
az man gelibter shteyt leybn mayn bet.

2)  Oy a khulem tokhter tur men nit gleybn
Vayl a khulem makht dem mentshn tsim nar.
Morgn veln mir tsi dem rebe furn.
A pidyen veln mir im geybn derfar.

3)  Vus ken mir den der rebe helfn?
Tsi ken er mir geybn deym vus eykh hob lib?
In mayn hartsn vet er mame blaybn
Biz in mayn fintsern grib.
In mayn hartsn vet er mame blaybn.
Biz in mayn fintsern grib.

Spoken:  Leylb Kahn says  “Dos gantse lid”

LSW: “Es geyt nokh vater.”
Leybl: “Lomir hern vayter.”
Spoken: LSW – “Es dakht zikh ir, az der khusn
kimt aran..”

4) Hots rakhmunes af mir libe mentshn
hots rakhmunes af mir in a noyt.
mit alem gitn zol nor Gotenyu bentshn.
Hots rakhmones un shenkts a shtikl broyt.

5) “Far vus zhe geysti azoy upgerisn?
Shemst zikh nisht iftsishteln di hant?
Fin vanen di bist bin ikh naygerik tsi visn.
Rif mir un dayn futerland.

6) Geboyrn bin eykh in a groys hoz.
Dertsoygn bin eykh eydl un raykh,
derkh mayn kharakter bin eykh urem gevorn
in intershtitsing beyt eykh du fin aykh.

7) Tsi vilt ir mir epes shenkn?
Git zhet mir in lozts mekh du nisht shteyn.
Tits mikh nit azoy fil krenken,
Vayl dus hob eykh mir mitgenemen aleyn.

8) Oy, mamenyu gib im shoyn a neduve.
Gib im shoyn un loz im do nisht shteyn.
Gib im avek a halb fin indzer farmeygn,
vayl dos iz der velkher iz mayn gelibter geveyn.
Gib im shoyn a halb fin indzer farmeygn,
vayl dos iz der velkher iz mayn gelibter geveyn.

TRANSLATION
1)  Mama, I dreamed a dream,
oh mame, a dream i had imagined.
Oh a dream i had dreamed,
That my love was near my bed.
[..stands near me at night]

2)  O daughter, a dream should not be believed.
Because a dream can lead you astray.
Tomorrow we will travel to the Rebbe
and give him payment for this.

3)  O, how can the Rebbe help me.
Can he give me the one I love?
In my heart he will always remain.
Till my dark grave.

SPOKEN:
Leylb Kahn: The whole song
LSW: There is more.
Leybl: Let’s hear more.
LSW: She thinks that her groom has entered…

4) “Take pity on me dear people.
Take people on me in my need.
May God bless you with all good things.
Take pity and give a piece of bread.”

5)  “Why are you going around in rags?
Are you not ashamed to hold out your hand?
Where are you from? I would like to know.
Tell me your fatherland.”

6)  “I was born in a big house,
Raised noble and wealthy.
Because of my character, I became poor,
and for a donation from you I now beg.”

7)  “Do you want to give me some alms?
Then give me and don‘t leave me standing here.
Don‘t torture me so,
For I have already suffered enough.”

8)  “O mother give alms right now,
Give him now, and don‘t let him stand there.
Give him away a half of our fortune,
For he was once my beloved.”

screen-shot-2018-02-08-at-4-15-21-pm.pngkholem itzik2

Folklor-lider Volume 2 1936, pp. 202-204,. Song #62  – “Shoyn dray yor az ikh shpil a libe”:
12

and #63 – “Vi azoy ikh her a lirnik shpiln”:

34

Jewish Folk Songs (1962) #34, ed. Moyshe Beregovski,  pp. 75-77, reprinted in Mark Slobin’s Beregovski compendium Old Jewish Folk Music 1982, p. 353 – 355:

Beregovski Mame A

“Unser Rebbe, unser Stalin” edited by Elvira Grozinger and Susi Hudak-Lazic, 2008:
MagidMameAkholem

Post edited for web by Samantha Shokin.

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“Shtey ikh mir in ayn vinkele” Performed by Itka Factorovich Sol

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

This week’s Yiddish Song of the Week is a submission from Steve Balkin – a 1958 recording he made in Detroit on a Webcor reel to reel tape recorder of his grandmother, a wonderful singer, Itka Factorovich Sol.

IMG_2089

Itka Factorovich Sol (left), pictured with her younger sister Channa-Leya “Lizzie” Factorovich in the City of Chernigov, Ukraine, ca. 1910. Courtesy of Steve Balkin.

Balkin writes the following about her:

My bubbe Itka Factorovich Sol (shortened from Zolotnitsky) was from Chernigov, Ukraine (Ukrainian – Chernihiv, Yiddish – Tshernigov) but it might have been Russia then. She spoke Russian and Yiddish, and a little English. She and my zeyde Nathan Sol (Nauach Zolotnitsky), living in Neshin, migrated to Chicago in 1912 and owned and ran a fish store. Up above the fish store lived Menasha Skolnick’s sister. Later in 1955 she moved with us to Detroit. Since my mother worked, she spent a lot of time raising me. She kept a kosher house, sang a lot of lullabies, and was a great baker and cook.  I still have the taste of her taiglach (small, knotted pastries boiled in honey) on my tongue. 

IMG_2092

Itka Factorovich Sol (center) with her sisters at a party in New York City, 1948. Courtesy of Steve Balkin.

This is yet another Yiddish song about a drunk who has a conversation with the moon and beats his wife. (See: “Ekh zits mir in shenkl” [“I sit in the tavern”] sung by Michael Alpert on the CD The Upward Flight: The Musical World of S. An-sky and the commentary there.) In fact the number of Yiddish songs about drunks is large enough to form its own section – “Shikurim-lider” – in Folklor-lider vol. 2, Moscow, 1936.

In this song the singer refers to the “monopol”. The liquor store in Russia under the Czar was referred to as the “monopol”, since the Czarist regime had full control over it.

I found two textual variants of this song, and screen shots of them are included at the end of the post. “Epes tut mir mayn harts zogn” is found in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider Moscow, 1933, page 141, #12. “Monopol, monopol” is in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider, vol. 2 , Moscow 1936, page 263-264, #5.

Thanks to David Braun for assistance with the Yiddish text.

Shtey ikh mir in ayn [=a] vinkele
eyner aleyn.
In mayne oygn iz mir fintster;
ze nit vuhin tsu geyn.

Shiker iz di gantse velt.
S’zet zikh (?) dokh aleyn
un di veg iz mir farshtelt.
Ikh ze nit vuhin ikh gey.

Ot ersht, ot ersht hot di levone geshaynt.
Zi hot azey likhtik geshaynt.
Mit a mol hot zi ir ponim farshtelt
Azey vi unter [=hinter] a vant.

Di levone vil a bisele bronfn,
A make hot zi gelt.
Hot zi zikh far mir farshemt
un hot ir ponim farshtelt.

Levone, levone, kum aher,
ikh vel dir epes zogn.
Di velt lozt zikh nokh nit oys;
Ikh ken dir an eytse gebn.

Ikh hob far dir ayn [=a] gutn plan.
Du zolst mikh nor oyshern.
Kum mit mir in monopol,
Farzetsn a por shtern.

Epes tut mir haynt mayn harts zogn
gor a naye zakh.
Ikh vil haynt mayn vayb shlogn.
Es vet zayn zeyer glaykh.

Di letste fleshl fun tsu kopnl
nemt zi bay mir aroys
un trinkt oyset biz ayn [=eyn] tropn
un lozt mir gor nit oys.

Just standing in a corner
all alone.
My eyes see darkness,
I don’t see where to go.

The whole world is drunk.
That everyone can see.
And the road is hidden.
I cannot see where to go.

Just now, just now the moon was shining,
She shone so brightly.
Suddenly she covered her face,
as if behind a wall.

The moon wants a little whiskey.
But money she has none.
So she was shamed before me,
and covered up her face.

“Moon, moon come over here
I want to tell you something.
The world is not coming to an end;
So let me give you some advice.

I have for you a good plan
Please hear me out.
Come with me to the “monopol”  [=liquor store]
We’ll pawn a few stars.”

Something told my heart today
something brand new.
I want to beat my wife;
that will be well deserved.

The last bottle that’s by my head
She takes away from me.
She drinks it down to the last drop
and leaves me none.

 

shtey1shtey2

 

 

shtey3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Epes tut mir mayn harts zogn” is found in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider Moscow, 1933, page 141 #12:

epes1

epes2

“Monopol, monopol” is in Skuditski/Viner Folklor-lider, vol. 2 , Moscow 1936, page 263-264, #5:

monopol1monopol2

“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

“Nakhtishe lider” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The author of the text to “Nakhtishe lider”, Herz Rivkin was born Herzl Heisiner in Capresti, Bessarabia (today Moldova) in 1908, and died in a Soviet gulag, November 14, 1951. The poem is taken from  his only printed poetry collection “In shkheynishn dorf”  [From the Neighboring Village], Bucharest, 1938. Reprinted in Bucharest, 1977.

Herz Rivkin

The composer of the melody is unknown. The performer of this week’s posting, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (my mother), learned this song in Chernovitz in the 1930s. The only recording of the song is by Arkady Gendler on his CD “My Hometown Soroke”,  2001. That version is incomplete with two verses by Rivkin, and a third by Gendler.  Gendler titles the song “Nakhtike lider” which is the original title in Rivkin’s book.

Singer Michael Alpert has initiated and directs a concert program with singer/bandura player Julian Kytasty which brings together Jewish and Ukrainian singers and musicians in a collaborative program, the title of which “Night Songs from a Neighboring Village” was inspired by this song.

I recorded my mother’s performance of “Nakhtishe lider” at home in the Bronx in the 1980s. The audio quality of the recording is unfortunately not stable (be careful when listening – the volume increases significantly at 0:27), but Schaechter-Gottesman’s singing here is a wonderful example of what I would call urban interwar Yiddish singing and contrasts powerfully with the older plaintive, communal shtetl-style of her mother Lifshe Schaechter-Widman.

Nakhtishe lider fun shkheynishn dorf
farblondzen amol tsu mayn ganik.
Zey leshn mayn troyer; zey gletn mayn umet.
Zey flisn vi zaftiker honig.

Night Songs from the neighboring village.
Lose their way to my porch.
They extinguish my sadness; they caress my melancholy.
They flow like juicy honey.

Lider khakhlatske, muntere, frishe.
Vos shmekn mit feld un mit shayer.
Zey filn di luft un mit varemkeyt liber,
vos shtromt fun a heymishn fayer.

Ukrainian Songs, upbeat and fresh
that smell with field and barn.
They fill the air with a loving warmth,
that streams from an intimiate fire.

Nakht iz in shtetl, ikh lig afn ganik.
Ver darf haynt der mames geleyger?
Iz vos, az s’iz eyns? Iz vos, az s’iz tsvey?
Iz vos az shlogt dray shoyn der zeyger?

It’s nighttime in town; I lay on my porch.
Who needs today my mother’s place to sleep?
So what if it’s one? So what if it’s two?
So what if the clock strikes three?

Her ikh un ikh veys nisht iz yontif in dorf.
Tsi es hilyen zikh glat azoy yingen.
Az vos iz der khilek? Oyb s’vet bald, mir dakht
di levone oykh onheybn tsu zingen.

I listen and I don’t know if it’s a celebration in the village,
or just some kids are singing.
But what is the difference? If soon, it seems
The moon will also start to sing.

Azoy gisn amol zikh fun skheynishn dorf
heymishe, zaftike tener.
Biz s’heybt on frimorgn tsu vargn di nakht
un ez heybn on kreyen shoyn di heyner.

In this way pours out, from the neighboring village
intimate, juicy melodies.
Until the early morning begins to choke the night
and the roosters start to crow.

Songs for Peysakh

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

As Passover comes to a close with “di tsveyte teg yontif” (the second days of the holidays), we acknowledge the website YouTube as a wonderful resource for Yiddish folksongs by posting three Yiddish Passover songs that were sent to us.  Yiddish dance teacher and researcher Steve Weintraub sent us the links to the first two and a person who wishes to remain nameless sent us the third one.
#1 is a Yiddish version of Khad gadyo which is unknown to me; any help identifying it would be helpful; it sounds like a relatively recent composition.The second song rhyming meydlekh and kneydlekh is a version of “Yontif peysekh…” or “Akh vi voyl, un akh vi gut“…and is in Michael Alpert’s repertoire. The song usually discusses all the holidays; a verse on Passover is already found in the Ginzburg/Marek collection of 1901, “Yiddish Folksongs in Russia”, St. Petersburg  Song #33.   In song #39, of the same volume, there appears Uncle Sidney’s stanza.
#2 Baba’s song is a version of “Pey Luhem” that we previously posted on the Yiddish Song of the Week. Since the Hallel prayer appears in the Haggadah and is the basis for the song, it is clear why this song is also considered a Passover song, while others sing it at Simkhes toyre to poke fun at the “other gods.”
#3 is Betty’s Yiddish Khad gadyo song – “Eyn tshigele” (Litvish Yiddish pronunciation of “tsigele” = one kid”) is a new one to me, but it’s interesting that the refrain is in Yiddish and does not repeat the Aramaic “Khad gadyo” as one usually hears.

“Mir nemen veytslekh” Performed by Dora Libson

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Mir nemen veytslekh is a matso-baking song, sung in a Litvish-Yiddish dialect by the singer Dora Libson. This version was recorded in 1977 by Lionel Libson. Dora is from the Western Ukraine. [See her earlier post in this blog for her biography].

The collective baking of matse during the weeks preceeding Passover was, (and is in Orthodox circles today) a joyous event, and the songs that accompany the event, are playful work songs. For another example listen to Michael Alpert sing Dos lid fun matse bakn on the Lori Cahan-Simon Ensemble‘s CD Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me, Volume One: Passover.

The singer sings “moyre” instead of “meyre,” a dialectical hypercorrection. Meyre is the dough of the matse.

I was unsure of the words in a couple of places and any corrections or suggestions would be welcome.

Mir nemen veytslekh

“We Take Wheat”

Mir nemen veytslekh, a fule koyshn,
Afile ot azelkhe.
Un mir moln, un mir moln,
moln veytslekh bilkhe.

We take wheat, baskets full
Even ones like these.
And we grind and we grind
Grinding the preferred wheat.

Itstert kinder nemt a zipke
un tsezipt di mel.
Zipt zhe, zayt zhe, zipt zhe, zayt zhe,
varft aroys di klayen.

Now children take a sifter
and sift the flour.
Sift and strain, sift and strain.
Throw out the bran.

Itstert kinder farkatsht di arbl,
Khane ober [oder] dvoyre.
Shit on mel, gist on vaser,
un farknet a moyre [meyre].

Now children roll up your sleeves,
Khane or Dvoyre.
Pour out flour, pour out water,
and knead the meyre.

Un fun der moyre shnaydt on teyglekh,
shnaydt on teyglekh kleyne.
Velgert, velgert, velgert, velgert,
velgert matses sheyne.

And from the meyre cut up clumps of dough.
Cut up the clumps small.
Roll and roll, roll and roll [with the rolling pin.]
Roll the beautiful matzos.

Itstert kinder nemt a redl,
a redl mit sharfe tseyner.
Redlt, redlt, redlt, redlt,
feln zol nisht keyner.

Now children take the hole puncher,
a puncher with sharp teeth.
Puncture, puncture, puncture, puncture,
And no one should be missing.

Itstert kinder zetst di matses;
der eyvn [oyvn] iz a heyser.
Vasht zikh opet, nemt aroyset,
Esn vi der keyser!

Now children put in the matzos,
the oven is hot.
Wash up and take them out,
Let‘s eat them like the emperor.  

“Pey luhem” Performed by Mordkhe Bauman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottemsman

Mordkhe Bauman’s performance of the song Pey luhem (“They Have Mouths”) was recorded in the Bronx by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman in the 1980s. The song is also called “Atsabeyhem kesef vezohev” (“Their Idols are Silver and Gold”) and a printed version, very similar to Bauman‘s can be found in Folks-gezangen loytn nusekh fun Chaim Kotylansky Los Angeles 1944, pages 56-57. There are several 78s of Kotylansky singing but not this song (see Richard K. Spottswood’s Ethnic Music on Records, Volume 3).

A different version on Youtube can now be viewed, performed by Dovid Vider, recorded as part of Indiana University’s Aheym Project, in Kolomey, Ukraine, May 2003.

Eventually, I will post another version I recorded with a different melody by Itzik Zucker from the region of Volhinya. He told me that the song was performed on the holiday of Simkhes-toyre, and Kotylansky comments that „The Chassidim sing it on every holiday, whenever „Hallel‟ is sung.‟ There is a tradition to sing songs that ridicule the non-Jews on Simkhes-toyre, and this is one of the more popular ones.

The song takes words from the Hallel prayer, which is in turn based on Psalm 115, and translates the lines into Yiddish to comic effect. In Bauman‘s version, Polish words are often humorously used to describe the body parts of the non-Jewish gods. For example: the Polish word for blind person to refer to blind eyes „szlepez‟; the Polish word for ears „uchos‟ to refer to their deaf ears.

Thanks to Prof. Dov-Ber Kerler who sent me a link to a great discussion list in Yiddish that discusses various amazing versions of this song (for example: „their gods have a throat like a giraffe‟). Scroll down and read the whole discussion!

One important word in Bauman‘s version remains unclear to me. Kharboyne seems to indicate Harbonah of the Megillah. Why he is referred to in this context – the idol of the non-Jews – is unclear. David Braun believes it is because Kharboyne/Harbonah is a eunuch and therefore impotent.

In the list-serve discussion, one version uses Pondrik (a nickname for Jesus) instead and of course this makes more sense to me. Any opinions on this would be helpful.

Thanks to Michael Alpert for helping with the Polish words.

Pey luhem veloy yedaberu
A piskatsh ot er un er ken nisht redn.
Okh un vey iz tsu zey!
A shtime Kharboyne hobn zey.
A piskatsh ot er, un er redt nisht
Ober eleheynu shebashomayim,
ober indzer got in himl.
Kol asher khufets usu, usu
Vus er vil tit er, tit er.
Vus er vil, tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.
Vus er vil tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.

„They have mouths but cannot speak‟ (Hebrew)
A foul mouth (piskacz=Polish) he has and cannot speak.
Woe is to them!
A mute Kharboyne they have.
A foul mouth he has and cannot speak.
But our God in heaven (Hebrew)
But our God in heaven
Can do whatever he wills (Hebrew)
Whatever he wants, he does,
Whomever he wants – he gives.

Eynayim luhem, veloy yiru
Shlepes hot un er ken nisht zeyn.
Okh un vey iz tsu zey,
A blinde Khorboyne hobn zey,
Shlepes ot er, un er zeyt nisht.
A piskatsh ot er, un er redt nisht.
Ober eleheynu shebashomayim,
ober indzer got in himl.
Kol asher khufets usu, usu
Vus er vil tit er, tit er.
Vus er vil, tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.
Vus er vil tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.

„They have eyes but cannot see‟ (Hebrew)
Blind eyes (szlepes = Polish) he has and cannot see.
Woe is to them!
A blind Kharboyne they have.
Blind eyes he has but cannot see,
A foul mouth he has but cannot speak,
But our God in heaven (Hebrew)
But our God in heaven
Can do whatever he wills (Hebrew)
Whatever he wants, he does,
Whomever he wants – he gives.

Oznayim luhem, veloy yishmau
Ukhes ot er un er ken nisht hern.
Okh un vey iz tsu zey
A toybe Kharboyne hobn zey.
Ukhes ot er un hert nisht,
shlepes ot er un er zeyt nisht
a piskatsh ot er un er redt nisht
Ober eleheynu shebashomayim,
ober indzer got in himl.
Kol asher khofets usu, usu
Vus er vil tit er, tit er.
Vus er vil, tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.
Vus er vil tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.

„They have ears but cannot hear‟ (Hebrew)
Ears (uchos = Polish) he has but cannot hear.
Woe is to them!
A deaf Kharboyne they have.
Ears he has and cannot hear,
Blind eyes he has and cannot see,
A foul mouth he has and cannot speak
But our God in heaven (Hebrew)
But our God in heaven
Can do whatever he wills (Hebrew)
Whatever he wants, he does,
Whomever he wants – he gives.

Af luhem veloy yerikhun
a nonye ot er un er ken nisht shmekhn
okh un vey iz tsu zey
a farshtopte Kharboyne hobn zey.
A nonye ot er, un er shmekt nisht
Ukhes ot er un hert nisht,
shlepes ot er un er zeyt nisht
a piskatsh ot er un er redt nisht
Ober eleheynu shebashomayim,
ober indzer got in himl.
Kol asher khofets usu, usu
Vus er vil tit er, tit er.
Vus er vil, tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.
Vus er vil tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.

„They have a nose but cannot smell‟ (Hebrew)
A funny nose/shnoz (nonye) he‘s got, but cannot smell.
Woe is to them!
A stuffed up Kharboyne they have.
A shnoz he has, but cannot smell.
Ears he has and cannot hear,
Blind eyes he has and cannot see.
A foul mouth he has and cannot speak.
But our God in heaven (Hebrew)
But our God in heaven
Can do whatever he wills (Hebrew)
Whatever he wants, he does,
Whomever he wants – he gives.

Yedeyhem veloy yemishun
Lapes ot un er ken nisht tapn
okh un vey iz tsu zey
a kalikevate Kharboyne hobn zey
Lapes ot er un er tapt nsiht,
A nonye ot er un er shmekt nisht,
Ukhes ot er un hert nisht,
shlepes ot er un er zeyt nisht
a piskatsh ot er un er redt nisht
Ober eleheynu shebashomayim,
ober indzer got in himl.
Kol asher khofets usu, usu
Vus er vil tit er, tit er.
Vus er vil, tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.
Vus er vil tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.

„Hands he has, but cannot touch‟ (Hebrew)
Paws he has, but cannot touch.
Woe is to them!
A crippled Kharboyne they have.
Paws he has but cannot touch
A shnoz he has, but cannot smell.
Ears he has and cannot hear,
Blind eyes he has and cannot see.
A foul mouth he has and cannot speak.
But our God in heaven (Hebrew)
But our God in heaven
Can do whatever he wills (Hebrew)
Whatever he wants, he does,
Whomever he wants – he gives.

Ragleyhem veloy yehaleykhu
lopetes ot er un er ken nisht geyn.
Okh un vey iz tsu zey,
A lume Kharboyne hobn zey.
Lopetes ot er un er geyt nisht
Lapes ot er un er tapt nisht,
A nonye ot er un er shmekt nisht,
Ukhes ot er un hert nisht,
shlepes ot er un er zeyt nisht
a piskatsh ot er un er redt nisht
Ober eleheynu shebashomayim,
[ober indzer got in himl.]
Kol asher khofets usu, usu
Vus er vil tit er, tit er.
Vus er vil, tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.
Vus er vil tit er, veymen er vil, gibt er.

„They have feet but cannot walk‟ (Hebrew)
Funny legs (literally = shovels) he has and cannot walk.
Woe is to them!
A lame Kharboyne they have.
Shovels he has and cannot walk,,
Paws he has and cannot touch
A shnoz he has, and cannot smell.
Ears he has and cannot hear,
Blind eyes he has and cannot see.
A foul mouth he has and cannot speak.
But our God in heaven (Hebrew)
But our God in heaven
Can do whatever he wills (Hebrew)
Whatever he wants, he does,
Whomever he wants – he gives.