Archive for Poland

“Reb Tsudek” Performed by Itzik Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2018 by yiddishsong

Reb Tsudek
Sung by Itzik Gottesman, recorded Nov 2018, Austin TX

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I was asked to post the song “Reb Tsudek” as sung by the Yiddish poet Martin Birnbaum. He sang it to Michael Alpert and me in 1984-85 in NYC.  But, alas, I cannot find the original recording so I have recorded it myself.

Birnbaum was born in 1905 in Horodenke when it was Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Now it is in the Ukraine  – Horodenka. According to a NY Times obituary he came to the US in 1923 and died in 1986. In the YIVO Institute’s Ruth Rubin Legacy Archive, Birnbaum sings four songs but not this one. Those recordings were done in 1964.

I believe there is more Yiddish folklore to be discovered about this shlimazel (bad luck) character Reb Tsudek. When I asked the Yiddish poet Yermye Hescheles about him he affirmed that there was such a comic figure in Galicia, where both he and Birnbaum were from.

The song mocks the Hasidic lifestyle – absurd devotion to the rebbe, irresponsibility, staying poor. The word “hiltay” – defined by the dictionaries as “libertine” “skirt-chaser” “scoundrel” – is really a cue that this is a 19th century maskilic, anti-Hasidic, song. The word is often used in such songs. The humor also hinges on the double meaning of tsimbl both as a musical instrument (a hammered dulcimer) and as a verb – “to thrash or scold someone”.

couple tsimblA tsimblist, about to be thrashed by his wife.
(courtesy Josh Horowitz)

In the song two towns are mentioned: Nay Zavalek remains a mystery but Grudek, west of Lviv, is Grodek in Polish and Horodok in Ukrainian.

Here is a clip of Michael Alpert singing  the song, with Pete Rushefsky on tsimbl, Jake Shulman-Ment on violin and Ethel Raim singing at the Smithsonian Folkife Festival in Washington D.C.,  2013:

TRANSLITERATION

Fort a yid keyn Nay-zavalek,
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Fort a yid tsu zayn rebn – Reb Tsudek.
Tsudek iz a yid, a lamden.
Er hot a boykh a tsentn,
Un s’iz bakant, az er ken shpiln
of ale instrumentn.

Shpilt er zikh derbay (2x)

Fort a yid keyn Nay-zavalek
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!
Fort a yid keyn Nay-Zavalek
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!

Un Reb Tsudek, er zol lebn,
hot gehat a gutn shabes.
Tsudek hot gekhapt shirayem,
mit beyde labes.
Aheymgebrakht hot er zayn vaybl
a zhmenye meyern-tsimes.
Un dertsu, oy vey iz mir,
a tsimbl un strines.

“Hiltay vus iz dus!” (2x)

Oy hot zi getsimblt Tsudek
fun Zavalek bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!
Oy hot zi getsimblt Tsudek
fun Zavalek bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!

TRANSLATION

A man travels to Nay-Zavalek,
directly until Grudek.
The man is traveling to his rabbi,
Mister Tsudek.
Tsudek is a learned man,
and has a belly that weighs ten tons.
And everyone knows that he can play
on all the instruments.

So he plays as he travels –

A man travels to Nay-Zavalek
directly until Grudek,
Oh my, dear God!
A man travels to Nay-Zavalek
directly until Grudek,
Oh my, dear God!

And Reb Tsudek, may he be well,
had a good Sabbath.
Tsudek caught the Rebbe’s holy leftovers
with both paws [large, rough hands].
For his wife he brought home
a handful of carrot – tsimmes,
and in addition – oh no! –
a tsimbl with no strings.

Scoundrel! what is this? (2x)

Boy did she thrash Tsudek
from Zavalek until Grudek
Oh my, dear God.
Boy did she thrash Tsudek
from Zavalek unti Grudek
Oh my, dear God

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“Ver s’hot nor in blat gelezn: Der Bialystoker pogrom” Performed by Frahdl Post

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2018 by yiddishsong

Ver s’hot nor in blat gelezn: Der Bialystoker pogrom
Whoever has Read the Newspaper: The Bialystok Pogrom

Performance by Frahdl Post, Recorded by Wolf Younin 1970s.

This week’s song was submitted by Henry Carrey. The singer Frahdl Post is his grandmother, the mother of a previously featured singer, Leah Post Carrey (aka Leyke Post). Frahdl was born in Zhitomir, Ukraine in 1881 and died at the Workmen’s Circle Home for the Aged in the Bronx in 1976.

Carrey writes:

“Frahdl Herman Postalov, a/k/a Fannie Post, grew up in Zhitomir, Ukraine in a lower middle-class home, one of four sisters and two brothers. Her father Dovid-Hersh Herman had a shop where grain was sold. His wife, Rivke Kolofsky worked in the shop.

FrahdlPost

Frahdl Post

As a young girl, she always like to sing and dance and took part in amateur theatricals. Performing ran in the family. Her father was  a part-time cantor with a pleasant voice and Frahdl and her brother Pinye teamed up to perform at local parties. She told us that she learned her vast repertoire of many-versed songs by going to a store with friends every day where newly written songs would be purchased and then shared by the girls. She also used to stand in the street outside the local jail and learn revolutionary songs from the prisoners who could be heard through the windows. She remembered attending revolutionary meetings in the woods, and singing all the revolutionary songs, although she herself was not an activist.

One day she went to a fortune-teller who told her that her future husband was waiting at home. When she got home, she saw my grandfather, Shloyme, who had been boarding with her aunt. In 1907 they married and within a year her husband Shloyme was off to America to seek his fortune leaving a pregnant wife. Frahdl and my mother Leyke left to join him about four years later in 1913.

Eventually she got to Halifax, Nova Scotia but was denied entry to the US because she had a highly contagious disease called trachoma. Fortunately, she was somehow allowed into Canada instead of being sent back to Europe  as was customary. After four months of treatment in Montreal , Frahdl was cured and they left for Boston, where my grandfather had settled. Frahdl had two more children Rose and Hymie in the next three years.

During the 1920’s, Shloyme decided to move from Boston and start a tire business for Model-T’s in Arlington – a suburb of Boston where there were only three other Jewish families. However, my grandmother still took the tram into the West End of Boston to buy most of her food.  Understandably , the children  were influenced by the non-Jews around them and once brought a “Chanukah Bush” home and put up stockings on the mantel. My grandmother threw the tree out and filled the stockings with coal and onions from “Sente Closet”.  My mother, Leyke, who even at a young age was a singer, had been secretly singing with the Methodist choir. One day the minister came to the door to ask my grandmother’s permission to allow my mother to sing in church on Christmas Eve. That was the last straw for my grandmother and they moved back to the West End.

My grandmother always sang around the house both the Yiddish and Ukrainian folksongs she had learned in Zhitomir and the new Yiddish theater songs she heard from other people or later on the radio and on recordings. All the children learned the songs and Leyke incorporated them into her repertoire when she became a professional singer.”

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

The song Ver s’hot nor in blat gelezn describes the Bialystok pogrom which occurred on June 1, 1906. Two hundred Jews were killed and seven hundred wounded – a particularly violent pogrom.

A number of verses are similar to other pogrom songs. The same song but only five verses long, with a reference to a pogrom in Odessa (1871? 1881? 1905?) is heard on Ruth Rubin’s Folkways album The Old Country and is printed in the YIVO collection Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive sung by Mr. Persky of Montreal. We have attached two scans of the song as it appears in the book, words and melody.

Click here for a previous posting about another song about pogroms (including Bialystok).

There it is noted that “The song is folklorized from a poem by Abraham Goldfaden, Di holoveshke (The Ember). I find only the third verse of Goldfaden’s poem to be adapted in this song. Three scans of Goldfaden’s original poem are attached as they appear in the 1891 edition of Dos yidele. In Post’s version it is the fifth verse.

In the Frahdl Post recording, the 10th verse ends abruptly before the song’s conclusion. Fortunately, Henry Carrey was able to add the last verse (and an alternate line) based on other recordings of his grandmother, so the transcription and translation include this final verse but it is cut off in the audio recording.

Wolf Younin (1908 – 1984), who recorded this song, was a well-known Yiddish poet, lyricist (Pozharne komande, Zing shtil, Der yid, der shmid, Ober morgn) and journalist. His column Shprakhvinkl included much Jewish folklore. Younin’s NY Times obituary is available here:

Thanks to Henry Carrey for this week’s post. The transliteration is based on his version. I changed some words to reflect her dialect.

TRANSLITERATION

Ver s’hot nor di blat geleyzn
Fun der barimter shtot Bialistok
Vos far an imglik dort iz geveyzn
In eyne tsvey dray teg.

Plitsling, hot men oysgeshrign,
“Shlugt di yidn vi vat ir kent! “
Shteyner in di fenster hobn genumen flien.
A pogrom hot zikh oysgerisn in eyn moment.

Blit gist zikh shoyn  in ale gasn,
In se shpritst zikh shoyn oyf di vent.
Yidn hot men geharget, oysgeshlugn.
Mit zeyer blit hot men gemult di vent.

Dort shteyt a kale oyf di harte shteyner,
Ungetun in ir vays khipe-kleyd
Un leybn ir shteyt a  merder eyner
un er halt dem khalef in der hant gegreyt.

Dort ligt a froy , a yinge,  a sheyne,
farvorfn, farshmitst ligt zi oyfn mist.
Leybn ir ligt a kind a kleyne;
zi tit ir zoygn ir toyte kalte brist.

Vi zey zaynen nor in shtub arayngekimen,
un zey hobn di mentshn git gekent.
Vus iz geveyn in shtib hobn zey tsebrokhn.
Di mentshn upgeshnitn hobn zey di hent.

Vi zey zaynen nor in shtub arayngekimen,
Mit ayn tuml, mit a groysn rash.
Vus iz geven in shtub hobn zey tsebrokhn,
Kleyne kinder arupgevorfn funem dritn antash.

Ver s’iz  baym umglik nisht geveyzn
Un er hot dem tsorn nisht gezeyn.
Mentshn hobn geshrign “Oy vey un vind is mir”.
Aroysgelozt hobn zey a groys geveyn.

Vi men hot zey in hospital arayngebrakht,
Keyner hot zey gor nisht derkent.
Mentshn hobn geshrign “ Oy, vey un vind is mir”.
Zey hobn gebrokhn mit di hent.

Oy, du Got, [Recording ends at this point ]

Oy, du Got du bist a guter,
Far vo’zhe kukstu nisht fun himl arop ?
Vi mir laydn shver un biter
[Or alternate line: Batrakht zhe nor dem yidishn tuml]|
Farvos dayne yidn, zey kumen op.

TRANSLATION

Who has not read in the papers
Of the well-known city Bialystok
Of the tragedy that befell it.
in a matter of three days.

Suddenly someone cried out
“Beat the Jews as much as you can!”
Stones thrown at windows started flying
A pogrom erupted in one moment.

Blood already flows in all the streets
And is spurting already on the walls.
Jews were killed and beaten
With their blood the walls were painted.

There stands a bride on the hard stones
Dressed in her white bridal gown.
Next to her stands a murderer
And he holds the knife ready in his hand.

There lies a woman, young and beautiful
Abandoned, tortured, she lay on the garbage,
And next to her lies a small child
She nurses it from her dead, cold breast.

As soon as they entered the house
And they knew the people well,
Whatever was in the house they broke
The people’s hands they cut off.

As soon as they came into the house
With  noise and violence
Whatever was in the house they broke;
Small children were thrown down from the third floor.

Whoever was not at this tragedy
Did not see this great anger.
People yelled “O woe is me”
Letting out a great cry.

When they brought them to the hospital
No one could recognize them.
People cried out “Woe is me”
And wrung their hands .

Oy God [recording ends here but should continue with…]

Oy God you are good
why don’t you look down from heaven?
How we suffer hard and bitter
[alternate line: “Look upon this Jewish chaos”
Why your Jews are so punished.

bialystok yid1bialystok yid2bialystok yid3

Ver es hot in blat gelezn (From YIVO publication Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive):

bialystok lyrics

ruth rubin post 2

Abraham Goldfaden’s poem Di holoveshke (The Ember), published in Dos yidele (1891)

ember1

ember2

ember3

ember4

ember5

“Bald vet zayn a regn” Performed by Yudeska (Yehudis) Eisenman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

During a visit to our home in the Bronx in the 1993 by the Yiddish writer Tsvi/Zvi Eisenman and his wife Yudeska/Yehudis Eisenman (1916 – 1998), Ms. Eisenman sang three songs which are not well known.

Eisenman1993Yudeska and Tsvi Eisenman with Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (center)

Yudeska Eisenman was born in Pinsk 1916  and made aliyah to Israel in 1939. She died in 1998. For many years she and Zvi lived on the kibbutz Alonim (אלונים).

This week we present the first song from that recording session –  “Bald vet zayn a regn” (“Soon a Rain Will Come”). The recording was done by my mother, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman. The words are by A. Lutsky (pen name for Arn Tsuker 1894 – 1957) and can be found in his volume Nemt es; s’iz gut far aykh, New York 1927.

This version of the song is the same as the one in the song collection Azoy hobn mir gezungen  (אזוי האָבן מיר געזונגען), published in Tel-Aviv, 1974, compiled by Khonen Pozniak. Only a line or two differ slightly.

Pozniak attended a Yiddish secular school in Warsaw, a “Borochov shul”, and his collection represents the songs he remembers from that school and the secular Tsysho Yiddish schools of Poland between the world wars (see Tsysho in the YIVO Encyclopedia).  Scans of the melody and text in the Pozniak collection are attached.

There are two recordings of this song on LP with different melodies. One is sung by Bella Sauer with a melody composed by Lazar Weiner. Another is by Morechai Yardeini, composed in 1960.

Through Eisenman’s performance of Bald vet zayn a regn one can imagine how the school children enjoyed singing the playful climax of the song “Un er laaaaakht….”

Thanks to Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound Archives and Bella Bryks-Klein for their help with this posting.

Spoken by Eisenman:
Bald vet zayn a regn, Lutskis

Bald vet zayn a regn
azoy dertseylt di gas;
shteyen ale hayzer,
farkhoyshekhte un blas. (2X)

Kumt a zun fun himl,
shtelt zikh op in gas. (2X)

Un er lakht, un er lakht, un lakht.
S’vet nit zayn keyn regn.
Ikh hob nor gemakht a shpas!

Soon a Rain Will Come

Spoken by Eisenman:
“‘Bald vet zayn a regn by Lutsky”

Soon a rain will come.
So says the street.
All the houses seem
dark and pale. (2X)

A sun comes down from the sky
and stops in the street. (2X)

And he laughs, and he laughs,
and he laughs!
“There won’t be any rain
I was only joking!”

bald1bald2baldpozniakBaldVetPozniakWords

 

“Blumke mayn zhiduvke” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

In the late 1970s, Beyle Schaechter-Gotetsman (BSG) made this recording of Mordkhe Gebirtig’s (1877 – 1942) song Blumke mayn zhiduvke, which is based on a Russian folk motif/theme. She sang it into her cassette recorder in preparation for an afternoon program of Gebirtig songs at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center in the Bronx. The song, written as a duet, is one of the lesser known of Gebirtig’s songs and, it seems, has only been recorded twice, both relatively recently – by Manfred Lamm in 2006 on the album Mayn traum/Mayn cholem, and by the singers Mariejan van Oort and Jacques Verheijen in 2003 on the album Mayn Fayfele (click here to hear van Oort and Verheijen’s version).

220px-GebirtigMordkhe Gebirtig

“Blumke” was the first name of Gebirtig’s wife (Blume Lindenbaum). The words and music were reprinted in most of the editions of Gebirtig’s songs, but only in the table of contents of the original edition of his volume Mayne lider  (Krakow 1936) does it add the information: “Rusishe folksmotiv; baarbet fun M. Gebirtig” – “Russian folk motif /theme adapted by M. Gebirtig.” (Thanks to Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss for access to that volume).

BSG learned this song in Chernovitz, Romania, in the 1930s and only a few words in her performance are different from Gebirtig’s original text, so we are attaching the original Yiddish text and melody from the NY 1942 edition of Mayne lider. The Yiddish, the transliteration and the translation will be based on BSG’s slightly different lyrics.

The song has some Polish words: zhiduvka – Jewess/Jewish girl, kruvka – little cow, bozhe – O, God.  The song is briefly discussed in the article “The Relations between Jews and Christians as Reflected in the Yiddish Songs by Mordehaj Gebirtig” by Elvira Grozinger, Scripta Judaica Cracoviensia, vol. 8, 2010.

Blumke, mayn zhiduvke
Okh, zay fun Got gezegnt.
Hostu efsher mayne tsigelekh
ergets vu bagegnt?

Kh’hob zey liber Stakhu,
in ergets nit getrofn.
Akh, vet dikh dayn beyzer tatke
haynt derfar bashtrofn.

Oy, vet dikh dayn beyzer tatke
dikh derfar bashtrofn.

Gekholemt fun dir, sertse,
gezen in feld dikh lign.
Plutslung kuk ikh, akh, vu zenen
mayne vayse tsign?

Efsher, liber Stakhu
S’iz andersh nit tsu klern.
Zenen zey in vald farkrokhn –
oy, dort voynen bern!

Bozhe! Okh, mayn Blumke,
vos zol ikh itst baginen.
Nisht gehitn mayne tsigelekh;
dikh gehat in zinen.

Zay keyn nar, mayn Stakhu,
nit far dir iz Blumke.
Liber nem aroys dayn fayfl,
shpil mir oyf a dumke.

Kh’vel mayn tatns kruvke
un alts vos kh’hob farkoyfn.
Lomir beyde, sheyne Blumke,
Ergets vayt antloyfn.

Zay keyn nar, mayn Stakhu,
Nit farkoyf dayn kruvke!
Zukh dir oys in dorf a goyke –
ikh bin a zhiduvke!

Roytlekh shoyn der himl.
Di zun fargeyt, pavolye.
Akh, vu zent ir, mayne tsigelekh,
kumt baveynt mayn dolye.

Blumke, my Jewish girl/Jewess
O, may God  bless you.
Have you, perhaps,
seen somewhere, my little goat?

I have not, dear Stakhu,
seen them anywhere.
Oh, your mean father
will punish you today for this.

I dreamed of you, my dear,
lying in a field.
Suddenly I look – oh,
where are my white goats?

Maybe, my dear Stakhu –
There can be no other way –
they wandered off into the woods
oh no! Bears live there.

My God! dear Blumke,
Where do I begin.
I did not guard my goats,
I was thinking of you.

Don’t be a fool, dear Stakhu.
You are not destined for Blumke.
Take out your flute
and play for me a dumka.*

I will sell my father’s little cow
and sell all that I have.
Let us, pretty Blumke,
Run away somewhere.

Don’t be a fool, my Stakhu.
Don’t sell your little cow.
Find yourself a non-Jewish girl in the village
I am a Jewish girl.

The sky is reddish,
the sun sets slowly.
O, where are you my little goat,
Come lament my fate.

*diminutive of “dumy” – epic ballads sung by Ukrainian kobzars. In the late 19th and early 20th century Slavic classical composers such as Dvorak were inspired to create classical dumka, “a type of instrumental music involving sudden changes from melancholy to exuberance” (Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music, 1978).

BlumkeScan2

BlumkeScan1

“Beymer hakt men fun veldl aroys” Performed by Zelig Schnadover

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

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

While in Mexico City in 1988, Zelig Schnadover sang Beymer hakt men fun veldl aroys (Trees are Chopped Down in the Woods) for me, a song he remembered learning in Poland.

slavuta rynek

Pre-revolutionary view of Zelig Schnadover’s hometown, Slavuta, Ukraine
(picture from www.jewua.org)

I cannot find other variants but would not be surprised if the melody turns out to be from a popular Polish song of the 1920s. Though he was raised in the Ukraine and Poland, Shnadover sings in a “standard Yiddish” with hardly any dialectical features.

Transliteration

Boymer [beymer] hakt men fun veldl aroys.
Shtern faln un leshn zikh oys.
Un shver iz der veyg durkh dem zamd.
Ober vi gut iz undz beyde baynand.

Fun der vaytns hert zikh a lid,
Un mir geyen un vern nisht mid.
Un vi shver iz der veg durkh dem zamd.
Un vi gut iz indz beyde baynand.

Translation:

Trees are chopped down in the woods.
Stars fall and are extinguished.
And hard is the path through the sand;
But how good we feel when we’re together.

In the distance we hear a song.
and we walk and do not tire.
And hard is the path through the sand,
And how good we feel when we’re together.

beymer

“Mir af a shifl, dir af a lotke” Performed by Zelig Schnadover

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2017 by yiddishsong

 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

Arie

This  one-verse song ‘Mir af a shifl, dir af a lotke’ (“A Boat for Me, a Canoe for You”) was performed by Zelig Schnadover, and recorded by Itzik Gottesman in Mexico City, 1988. Curiously, the first line from this ditty appears under the boat in the above 1960s painting of the Israeli artist Arie Aroch (1908-1974), who spent his childhood in Kharkov (Kharkiv), Ukraine.

Zelig Schnadover was born in 1907 in Slavuta [Yiddish – Slavite סלאַוויטע ] Ukraine. In 1920 they “escaped the Bolsheviks” and the family went to Poland. He had his bar-mitsve in Brody, [Yiddish – Brod], Poland. He lived in Poland until 1926 and learned the song there. Schnadover emigrated to Mexico City in 1926/27.

ZeligFoto

Zelig Schnadover

To make money in the early years in Mexico City Schnadover was part of a group of singers who provided the soundtrack to silent movies, many of them Russian, so they sang Russian songs. They didn’t have much time to prepare – usually they had not seen the movie earlier so amusing things happened. An example he gave was for Abel Gance’s film  Napoleon. The group was still singing a waltz as the projector was already showing a battle scene. When I knew him he had been the longtime owner of a stationary store, a papeleria, near the center of the city, the Zocolo.

Mir af a shifl,
Dir af a lotke.
Mir a sheyn meydl
Dir a tshekhotke

Me on a boat,
you on a canoe.
Me – a pretty girl
You – one with tuberculosis. 

After the initial posting, musicologist Dmitri “Zisl” Slepovitch pointed out a connection to a song he had recorded from Sterna Gorodetskaya in Mahilyow (Mogilev), Belarus, which was posted earlier to the Yiddish Song of the Week.

Also, a variant of the song from Brest-Litovsk (Yiddish – Brisk, now in Belarus) appears in I. L. Cahan’s 1912 collection with no music but with a second verse and presents it as a dialogue. The first verse sung by “He”, the second one by “She”.

Er:
Ikh af a shifele
Du af a lodke,
Ikh a soldat,
Du a soldadtke.

Zi:
Ikh af a shifele
Du af a lotke;
Ikh a sheyn meydele,
Du a sukhotke.

He:
I on a boat
You on a canoe.
I – a [male] soldier
You – a [female] soldier. 

She:
I on a boat,
You on a canoe
I – a pretty girl
You – a girl with tuberculosis.

Here is how it appears in Cahan’s 1912 collection:

CahanYID1912

Special thanks for help with this week’s posting goes to Tamara Gleason Freidberg, Paul Glasser and Rachel Greene. 

 

“Erev yon-kiper noent tsu kol-nidre” Performed by Sore Kessler

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

The singer of this week’s ballad, Erev yon-kiper noent tsu kol-nidre (The Eve of Yom-kippur, Right Before Kol-Nidre), is Sarah (Sore) Kessler. The recording is from the Ruth Rubin Collection at YIVO. Rubin recorded it in 1949.

This song tells of a Jewish girl running away with a non-Jewish boy on the eve of Yom-kippur. In Kessler’s version he is referred to as a “sheygets”.  In two other versions from the Sofia Magid collection (Unser Rebbe, unser Stalin edited by Elvira Grozinger and Susi Hudak-Lazic, Harrasowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2008) he is called an “eyn orl fun kristen geboyrn” (one who is uncircumcised born a Christian).

yom-kippur-3-erev
“Yom Kippur Eve” by Mayer Kirshenblatt from the book “They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust” (courtesy Prof. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett)

We have included the Kessler audio, the transliteration and translation, scans of the Magid versions and a PDF of the Yiddish words in Yiddish as sung by Kessler. The transliteration reflects her Yiddish dialect.

The singer, Soreh Kessler, from the Polish town of Czyżew (Yiddish name:”Tshizheve”) between Warsaw and Bialystok, recorded songs for Ruth Rubin at the beginning of Rubin’s field recording project in New York, 1947 to 1949.

When comparing the Magid versions and Kessler’s version it is clear that a crucial scene has been left out of Kessler’s: the one in which the Christian boy tells the runaway girl that he never loved her and was just kidding. She then returns to find that her parents died from grief.

One word is not clear to me – the fourth line of the first two stanzas – “____ un tinkl”. In Magid’s versions the word is “nakht” but here it sounds like “khmurne”, which means gloomy.

Recording is courtesy the Max and Frieda Weinstein Archive of Recorded Sound at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (Lorin Sklamberg, Sound Archivist). Thanks also to Dr. Paul Glasser for help with the town name.

TRANSLITERATION

SPOKEN: Dos lid hob ikh gehert in mayn shtetl Czyzew in poyln. Az es vet shoyn zayn tsvantsik, oder finf un tsvantsik yor tsayt.

Erev-yon-kiper noent tsi kol-nidre,
ven me geyt shoyn in talis in kitl.
un der futer der frimer er bentsht zayn bas-yekhidl,
In droysn vert khmurne (?) un tinkl.

Di muter di frime bay Got burekh-hi tit zi beytn,
bay di veksene likhtlekh in vinkl.
Ze bentsht oykh ir tokhter, ir bas-yekhidl.
In droysn vert khmurne un tinkl.

Ven di bas-yekhidl iz in hoyz aleyn farblibn,
a simen hot es zi im gegeybn.
Dort kletert eyner ariber iber dem parkan.
Dos iz ir gelibter geveyzn.

Ven futer un miter zenen tsurik aheymgekimen
zeyer bas-yekhidl nisht getrofn.
Dort bay di shkheynim hert zikh a troyerike shtime,
az mit a sheygetz iz zi antlofn.

Borves un naket lozt zi zikh loyfn,
iber berg un shteyner un toln.
Azoy vi zi iz nor tsu ir elterns hoyz gekimen –
kayn futer, kayn muter nisht getrofn.

Oyf deym beys-almon lozt zi zikh loyfn.
Zi iz shoyn arunter fun zinen.
Oyf deym beys-almon oyf dem mamenyus keyver
a teyter hot men zi gefinen.

TRANSLATION

Spoken: I heard this song in my town Czyzew in Poland. It must be 20 or 25 years ago.

On the eve of Yom-Kippur just before Kol Nidre
When one goes in talis and kitl  [prayer shawl & white linen coat]
And the pious father blesses his only daughter
Outside it is gloomy and dark.

The pious mother prays to God, may he be blessed,
by wax candles in the corner.
She also blesses her daughter, her only daughter.
Outside is gloomy and dark.

When the only daughter remained alone at home,
she gave him a sign.
There climbs someone, over the fence –
that was her lover.

When father and mother returned home,
they did not find their only daughter.
From the neighbors you could hear a plaintive cry –
she ran off with a non-Jewish boy.

Barefoot and naked she wildly runs
Over mountains and stones and valleys
She approached her parent’s house –
but no father, no mother did she find.

To the cemetery she wildly runs.
She has already lost her mind.
On the cemetery on her mother’s grave
they found her dead.

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EREV YOM KIPUR FROM SOFIA MAGID COLLECTION (Grozinger and Hudak-Lazic, 2008):

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