Archive for Philadelphia

“Gabe! Vos vil der rebbe?” Performed by Dora Libson

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

Thanks to Bob Freedman, we were able to contact Dora Libson‘s son Aaron Libson in Philadelphia, and he told us the following about singer Dora Libson.

Dora Libson was born in the village of Sasovo, in the Western Ukraine, officially in 1908, but he believes 1906 or 1907. She died in Philadelphia in 1985. Her father departed for America in 1913 and they were supposed to follow a year later, but the first World War broke out, and they only came to the US in 1924, after a year in Cuba. During those years they also lived in Mekarev (Yiddish name) and Kiev (the USSR).  In Kiev at the Evreiski Bazaar (Jewish market)Dora heard many street singers and learned a number of songs and “kupletn” in a number of languages.  Much of her repertoire is from her home in Sasovo. 

In Philadelphia she joined several choirs including the Freiheit Gesang Verein in the 1930s. When that choir was rejuvenated in the 1960s in Philadelphia her son Aaron also participated along with her. The family once had a recording of Dora singing songs in a number of languages – Russian, Spanish, Yiddish – but it was lost. The recording of Gabe! Vos vil der gabe? was recorded by Bob Freedman in the 1970s.

Gabe! Vos vil der rebbe? (Gabe! What Does the Rebbe Want?) is one of those Yiddish songs that, it seems, was very popular but was almost never recorded. I could only find a version on the field recordings done by Joel Engel in the 1920s produced recently by the Vernadsky Library in Kiev.  

Menachem Kipnis‘s collection 80 folkslider, Warsaw, n.d. (you can find it on line at the National Yiddish Book Center‘s catalog) contains three similar songs: Lekoved dem Heylikn Bim Bom (page 63), Gabe, Vos vil der rebe? (page 65) and Lekoved dem heylikn shabes (page 67). 

Libson‘s version of the song pokes fun at the rebbe and his khasidim, but the Kipnis version of Gabe! (which is the closest to Libson‘s song) is a playful song but without the mockery. Just a change of a few words is all that‘s needed to turn a khasidic song into an anti-khasidic song.

Ethel Raim, Artistic Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, adds this comment about Libson‘s singing:

Dora’s singing is easy going, subtle in nuance and character, and right on target in terms of traditional singing!”

Gabe!
Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil me zol derlangen di fish.
Tsu vos darf men di fish?
Kedey di khsidimlekh zoln zikh zetsn tsum tish.

 REFRAIN:
Oyneg leshabes, bim-bom-bom
Taynig  leyontif, bim-bom-bom.

Gabe!
What does the rebbe want?

Der rebe wants us to give out the fish.
Why do we need the fish?
So that the Hasidim will sit down at the table.

REFRAIN:
The joy of Sabbath, bim-bom-bom
The pleasure of holiday, bim-bom-bom

Gabe!
Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil, me zol derlangen di lokshn.
Tsu vos darf men di lokshn?
Keday di khsidimlekh zoln esn vi di poylishe oksn.

Gabe!
What does the rebbe want?
The rebbe wants us to give out the noodles.
Why do we need the noodles?
So that the Hasidim will eat like Polish oxen.

Gabe!
Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil, me zol derlangen dem kompot.
Tsu vos darf men dem kompot?
Kedey di khsidimlkeh zoln hobn klopot. 

Gabe! 
What does the rebbe want?
The rebbe wants us to give out the fruit dessert.
Why do we need the fruit dessert?
So that the Hasidim will have something to do.    

“Der shadkhn” Performed by Clara Crasner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Ethel Raim

Der shadkhn (The Matchmaker) is a humorous song describing the special skills that a shadkhn needs for his trade. The performer, Clara Crasner, was a truly marvelous singer who possessed a vast repertoire of Yiddish songs. I only regret never having met her or having heard her sing in person. We’re so fortunate that her son-in-law, Bob Freedman, made a recording of her singing in 1972. Clara’s singing is wonderful – feisty, straight forward and yet beautifully nuanced, and narrative to the core.

Picture of Clara Crasner with her daughter Molly Freedman

Here’s an excerpt of Crasner’s biography written by her daughter, Molly Freedman:

“My mother Clara Fireman Crasner was born in 1902 in Shargorod, not far from Vinnitsa, in the Ukraine. She learned many Yiddish songs as a child in the shtetl. She left Shargorod in 1919, stayed in Romania with relatives for two years, (and learned more songs there) while waiting for immigration papers from an older brother in New Jersey. My mother was always singing Yiddish folk songs at home while she did her housework. She knew many, many songs and I learned the songs from her as a child. Clara lived in Philadelphia until about 1970 and then moved to Miami Beach, where she was part of a group of senior citizens who had a regular Yiddish singing session on the beach every day. My husband recorded Clara in 1972 at our home in Philadelphia. She was just singing her favorite songs from memory. She came back to Philadelphia in the mid-80s and lived at the Jewish Geriatric Center where she continued to sing, sometimes alone and also with other seniors. She lived to be 97 and often would remember songs that we had not heard before, while we were driving in the car…  She was the inspiration for my love of Yiddish music and my husband and I continue to collect and share our music through our website at the University of Pennsylvania.”

Click the following link for the The Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Sound Archive.

Itzik Gottesman adds:

A version of the song “Der shadkhn” can be found in the book Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin, page 82-83. There it is called “A shadkhn darf men kenen zayn” and the melody is printed on page 82. Rubin writes that the song originates from the pen of Avrom Goldfaden. The words are somewhat different.

Ethel Raim, Michael Alpert and I traveled to the Yiddish Summer Weimar program the last week of July (2010) to teach traditional unaccompanied Yiddish folksong style – the focus of this blog. Ethel and Michael taught the vocal style, and I spoke on the songs and singers of this tradition. I believe this was, if not the first, then one of the first attempts to pass on this tradition to a new generation of singers, and kudos to Alan Bern, director of Yiddish Summer Weimar, who also co-taught, for his suggestion and decision to teach this. The students were seriously interested in learning the songs and style and were wonderful. Ethel taught another of Clara Crasner’s songs in her class at Weimar “A meydl in di yorn.”

Di lid hot mayn shvegerin gezungen; zi’s a Malover, Podolyer gubernye. Mayn shvegerun un mayn brider zingen es.
Zey zogn az zeyer futer hot es zey oysgelernt, mit a sakh yurn tsurik. Di lid heyst “der shadkhn.”

This song was sung by my sister-in-law. She is from Malov, Podolye. My sister-in-law and my brother sing it.
They say that their father taught it to them many years ago. The song is called “Der shadkhn.”

A shadkhn tsi zayn iz a gute zakh.
Es iz fun Got a brukhe.
Me makht zikh a bisele kushere gelt.
Un me tit nit keyn groyse melukhe.

To be a matchmaker is a good thing.
It is a blessing from G-d.
One earns a little honest money.
And you don’t have to work too hard.

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un az di mekhiteyniste vil nit di kale
darf men ir makhn meshige
Me darf ir azoy dem kop fardreyen
Zi zol shrayen gevold zi’s a klige!

And if the mother-in-law doesn’t want the bride,
You have to make her go crazy.
You should drive her so nuts,
That she yells “Wow, she’s is a smart one”.

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un az der mekhitin vil nisht dem khusn.
Darf men im makhn dil.
Me darf im azoy dem kop fardreyen
Er zol shrayen “Gevald ikh vil!”

And if the father-in-law doesn’t want the groom,
You should make him batty.
You should drive him so nuts
that he yells “Wow, I want!”

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un az di kale iz finef un tsvantsik yor alt
Fregt der khusn mir.
Zug ikh im az zi’s akhtsin yur
un dus iberike halt ikh mir.

And if the bride is 25 years old
and the groom asks me about it.
I tell him that she’s only 18,
and the leftover years, I will keep for myself.

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.

Un biz ikh nem up dus shadkhones-gelt
Tserays ikh tsvey pur shikh.
Un az ikh nem up dus shadkhones-gelt.
Khapt zey ale dus riekh.

By the time I pick up the matchmaker fee
I tear up two pairs of shoes.
And when I finally pick up the matchmaker fee,
The devil take them all!

Refrain:
Tsu deym darf men kenen a koysye makhn.
Makhn mit di hent,
Fun a shadkhn meyg men lakhn
Tsuzamen gefirt di vent mit di vent.

For this you need to take a drink.
Take it with your hands.
You can laugh at the matchmaker-
who brings together a wall with a wall.