Archive for Romania

“S’hot mit indz geleybt a khaver” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2022 by yiddishsong

S’hot mit indz geleybt a khaver / A Comrade Lived Among Us.
A Soviet Yiddish song praising Stalin. Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG], recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx. 1990s.

Image: A Jewish Kolhoz in Crimea

Commentary on the song is below after the lyrics and translation. 

BSG spoken: 

Dos hob ikh gehert tsum ershtn mul in Chernovitz in tsayt fun di rusn.
I heard this for the first time in the time of the Russians.  [The Soviet occupation of Chernovitz was June 1940 – July 1941]

S’hot mit indz geleybt a khaver.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
S’iz geveyn a yat a, braver.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

A comrade lived among us.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
He was a brave lad.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Er fleygt kikn af di shtern.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
A kolvirt vet bay undz vern.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

He used to look up to the stars
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay.
We should build a kolvirt [farming collective].
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Fun di velder ungekimen.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
Hot er indz tsunoyf genimen.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

From the fields we came.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
He gathered us together
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Lomir trinken a lekhayim
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
far dem leybn, far dem nayem.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

[BSG indicates this verse can be sung at the end]

Let us make a toast
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
for the new life.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Far der oktober-revolutsye
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
in far Stalins konsitutsye
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

For the October Revolution
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
And for Stalin’s constitution
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Far di kinder, [far] di zkeynem.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
In far alemen in eynem.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

For the children, for the old ones
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
And for all of us together.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Zol der ershter kos zikh khvalyen.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
far indzer libn khaver _______ 

(BSG spits and says “yemakh shmoy” then continues) …Stalin.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Let the first drink swirl
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
for our dear comrade ______
[BSG spits and curses him “May his name be erased” then continues]
…Stalin.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Far der Oktober-revolutsye
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
in far Stalins konsitutsye.
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

For the October Revolution
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay
And for Stalin’s constitutution
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

.ביילע רעדט: דאָס האָב איך געהערט צום ערשטן מאָל אין טשערנעוויץ אין צײַט פֿון די רוסן

ס’האָט מיט אונדז געלעבט אַ חבֿר
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
ס’איז געווען אַ יאַט אַ בראַווער
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

ער פֿלעגט קוקן אויף די שטערן
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
אַ קאָלווירט זאָל בײַ אונדז ווערן
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

פֿון די וועלדער אָנגעקומען 
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
.האָט ער אונדז צונויפֿגענומען
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

לאָמיר טרינקען אַ לחיים
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
.פֿאַר דעם לעבן, פֿאַר דעם נײַעם
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

פֿאַר דער אָקטאָבער־רעוואָלוציע
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
.און פֿאַר סטאַלינס קאָנסטיטוציע
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

פֿאַר די קינדער, [פֿאַר] די זקנים
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
.און פֿאַר אַלעמען אין איינעם
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

זאָל דער ערשטער כּוס זיך כוואַליען
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
פֿאַר אונדזער ליבן חבֿר ____
[ביילע שפּײַט אויס און זאָגט ‘מח־שמו’]
…סטאַלין
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

פֿאַר דער אָקטאָבער־רעוואָלוציע
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ
.און פֿאַר סטאַלינס קאָנסטיטוציע
אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ־אײַ

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

BSG was reading from a notebook of Yiddish songs that she wrote down in Vienna in the Displaced Persons camp (1947- 1950). You can hear my voice helping her read some of the lines. 

It seems that this song started out as a Hasidic nign (כּיצד מרקדי   Ketzad merakdin); 

Here is an instrumental version of the Hasidic tune from the album “Chassidic Authentic Wedding Dances (Galton D-5935):

Then the melody was used for a Soviet Yiddish song praising Stalin in the 1930s and 1940s, probably made popular by the 1938 recording of the Soviet Yiddish singer Zinoviy Shulman (1904 – 1977) .

The text version praising Stalin as was printed in the collection Yidishe folks-lider, edited by Y. Dobrushn and A. Yuditsky, Moscow 1940, p. 425

Here is an image of that version:

       In the 1950s, after the death of Stalin (1953), the song made its way into the leftist 1956 American Yiddish songbook Lomir ale zingen / Let’s Sing (Jewish Music Alliance, NY)  but dropped any mention of Stalin, of his constitution and of the October revolution. It was called “S’hot mit undz gelebt a khaver”.

A rousing version of the song entited L’chayim Stalin and based on the Shulman recording was recently recorded by Dan Kahn and Psoy Korolenko, including the references to Stalin on their album The Third Unternationale (2020):

Special thanks this week to Benjamin Ginzburg, Arun Vishwanath, Psoy Korolenko and Dan Kahn. 

“Ikh hob ongehoybn shpiln a libe” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2022 by yiddishsong

Ikh hob ongehoybn shpiln a libe / I Began a Romance
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW], recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954, New York City

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman with her son, the linguist Mordkhe Schaechter.  1930s, Chernovitz, Romania.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

Another lyrical love song from the repertoire of LSW. The wonderful rhyme “blote” (mud, mire) and “akhote” (desire, enthusiasm) is rare but can be found in I. L. Cahan’s collection (YIVO, 1957, page 183),  in a similar verse but different melody. Also noteworthy is the curse that the girl wishes upon her boyfriend – may he become a beggar and at every door, may they say “You were here already”.  In today’s slang we would say – “We gave at the office.”

Ikh hob ongehoybn shpiln a libe
Mit groys kheyshik in mit akhote.
Mit groys kheyshik in mit akhote.
Arupgefirt hot dus mekh fun deym glaykhn veyg.
Arayngefirt in a tifer blote.

I began a romance
with great desire and with enthusiasm.
With great desire and with enthusiasm.
It led me astray off the straight path.
And led me into a deep mire.
It led me astray off the straight path.
And led me into a deep mire.

Ikh vel dir koyfn, mayn tayer, zis leybn
a goldenem zeyger mit a vazer. [vayzer]
A goldenem zeyger mit a vazer.
Der vos hot undz beyde tsesheydt,
er zol geyn in di hayzer. 

I will buy you, my dear, sweet one,
a golden clock with a clock hand.
A golden clock with a clock hand.
He who split us apart
should go begging among the houses.

In di hayzer zol er geyn.
Bay yeyder tir zol er blaybn shteyn.
Bay yeyder tir zol er blaybn shteyn
Un yeyder zol im dus zugn:
“Ba mir bisti shoyn geveyn.”
Un yeyder zol im dus zugn:
“Ba mir bisti shoyn geveyn.”

May he go begging among the houses and
at every door should he stop.
At every door should he stop.
And everyone should say to him
“You have already been here.”
And everyone should say to him
“You have already been here.”

איך האָב אָנגעהויבן שפּילן אַ ליבע
.מיט גרויס חשק און מיט אַכאָטע
.מיט גרויס חשק און מיט אַכאָטע
.אַראָפּגעפֿירט האָט דאָס מיך פֿון דעם גלײַכן וועג
.אַרײַנגעפֿירט אין אַ טיפֿער בלאָטע

.איך וועל דיר קויפֿן, מײַן טײַער זיס לעבן
.אַ גאָלדענעם זייגער מיט אַ ווײַזער
.אַ גאָלדענעם זייגער מיט אַ ווײַזער
,דער וואָס האָט אונדז ביידע צעשיידט
.ער זאָל גיין אין די הײַזער

.אין די הײַזער זאָל ער גיין
.בײַ יעדער טיר זאָל ער בלײַבן שטיין
.בײַ יעדער טיר זאָל ער בלײַבן שטיין
 :און יעדער זאָל אים דאָס זאָגן
„.בײַ מיר ביסטו שוין געווען”
:און יעדער זאָל אים דאָס זאָגן
„.בײַ מיר ביסטו שוין געווען”

“Di shteytishe meydelekh” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2022 by yiddishsong

Di shteytishe meydelekh [kh’bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd]
The City Girls (I Was Born a Country Girl)

Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman. Recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NYC

Jewish girl from village outside of Zagreb, courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Di shteytishe meydalekh geyen shpatsirn
Zey geyen geuremt mit sheyne kavelirn.
In der puder aleyn
Er makht zey di bekelekh sheyn.

The city girls go for a walk.
They’re arm in arm with handsome suitors.
And just the powder
makes their cheeks pretty.

Ikh veyn in klug. Ikh ver nisht mid.
Keyner hert mayn veynen nit.
Of mir iz nebekh a noyt.
Kh’bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd.

I cry and lament. I don’t get tired.
No one hears my weeping.
I have, alas, a fault:
I was born a country [village] girl.

Di shteytishe meydelekh trugn zikh net.
Zey libn nisht keyn yidn; nor ales kadet.
Nor af mir, iz nebekh aza noyt.
Kh’bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd.

The city girls are so elegant.
They don’t love Jews, only cadets.
But alas, I have a fault –
I was born a country girl.

Ikh veyn in klug, Ikh ver nisht mid.
Keyner hert mayn veynen nit.
Oyf mir iz aza noyt.
Ikh bin geboyrn a dorfsmoyd.

I cry and lament. I do not tire.
No one hears my weeping.
I have, alas, this fault –
I was born a country girl.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

I could not find this song in any collection and it is not found in the play “Dos dorfs meydl” by Perlmutter and Wohl. It is probably from an old Yiddish musical play but whether the singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman learned it growing up in Bukovina, or in NYC when she was living there from 1908 to 1914 is not clear (she went back to Europe in 1914, and did not return to live in the US until 1951).

די שטעטישע מיידלעך
איך בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿמויד

געזונגען פֿון ליפֿשע שעכטער־ווידמאַן

.די שטעטישע מיידעלעך גייען שפּאַצירן
.זיי גייען געאָרעמט מיט שיינע קאַוואַלירן
,און דער פּודער אַליין
.ער מאַכט זיי די בעקעלעך שיי

.איך וויין און קלאָג; איך ווער נישט מיד
.קיינער הערט מײַן וויינען ניט
.אויף מיר איז נעבעך אַ נויט
.כ’בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמויד

.די שטעטישע מיידעלעך טראָגן זיך נעט
.זיי ליבן נישט קיין ייִדן, נאַר אַלעס קאַדעט
.נאָר אויף מיר איז נעבעך אַזאַ נויט
.כ’בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמו

.איך וויין און קלאָג, אן ווער נישט מיד
.קיינער הערט מײַן וויינען ניט
.אויף מיר איז נעבעך אַ נויט
.כ’בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמוי

.איך וויין און קלאָג, איך ווער נישט מיד
.קיינער הערט מײַן וויינען ניט
.אויף מיר איז אַזאַ נויט
.איך בין געבוירן אַ דאָרפֿסמויד

“Dus kind fun keynem nisht” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2022 by yiddishsong

Dus kind fun keynem nisht / No One’s Child
A Holocaust adaptation of a Romanian song. Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG]. Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx 1991.

Anny (Hubner) Andermann poses with a group of orphans whom she helped to have repatriated from Transnistria.
Archive of the United States Holocaust Memorial Musuem

BSG speaks: “Dus iz geven a Rumeynish lid in du zey ikh, az mir hobn gehat a yidishe versye.”
Vi heyst es af Rumeynish?
This was a Romanian song and here [in the notebook] I see that there was a Yiddish version. 

IG: How is it called in Romanian?
BSG sings in Romanian:

Copil sărac, al cui ești tu,
Al cui ești tu pe-acest pământ?
Tu ești copilul nimănui,
Al nimănui pe-acest pământ.

Poor child, whose are you,
Whose are you on this earth?
You are no one’s child,
No one’s on this earth.

BSG speaks: S’iz a lid veygn an urem kind Vus hot…
S’a yusem vus hot keynem nisht of der erd.

Spoken: It’s a song about a poor child, who has…
It’s an orphan who has no one in this world.

BSG sings:

Di urem kind mit shvartse hur.
Mit shvartse oygn zug mir gur.
Far vus dertseylsti yeydn yid,
Az di bist dus kind fun keynem nisht?

You poor child with blck hair
With black eyes, tell me:
Why do you tell every Jew/every one
That you are no one’s child?

“A sakh trern hob ikh fargosn,
Mayn mamenyu hot men geshosn.
Zi iz geshtorbn af deym ort.
‘Mayn tokhter’ var ir letse vort.

Many tears have I spilled,
My mother was shot.
She died on the spot.
‘My daughter’ were her last words”

BSG – Spoken = S’iz a ponim fin Transnistra.
It appears to be about Transnistria.

Mayn tatenyu hob ikh farloyrn.
Far kelt in hinger iz er ayngefrorn
Tsu shtarbn var zayn biter loz [German = los]
In an Ukrainer kolkhoz.

I lost my dear father.
From cold and hunger he froze.
To die was his bitter fate
In a Ukrainian kolkhoz. [ Soviet collective farm]

Ikh hob bagrubn mane libe.
Elnt aleyn bin ikh farblibn.
Men lozt mikh filn af yedn shrit:
az ikh bin dus kind fun keynem nit.

I buried my dear ones.
Alone, lonely I remained.
At every step people let me feel
that I am no one’s child.

BSG – “S’iz a versye vus me hot gemakht in Transnistria ober mit a sakh daytshmerizmen.”
 “It’s a version that was created in Transnistria but with many Germanisms. “

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

We’re posting this song in conjunction with the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2022. As noted in an earlier post, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman wrote down in a notebook lyrics to songs she heard in the Displaced Persons camp in Vienna, 1947 – 1951. I asked her to sing some of those songs in 1991. 

Bret Werb, musicologist at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. writes (via correspondence on email) about the Romanian song:

“The Romanian title is ‘Sînt copil al nimănui’ otherwise ‘Copil al nimănui’ otherwise ‘Cîntec de orfan’; the full lyric appears here, 

www.carpbarlad.org/files/reviste/viatanoastra_12.pdf (p 19, righthand side). 

As you’ll see it’s similar to the Yiddish version.  The song was collected as “folklore” in 1972 from informant Gheorghe Cazacu of Costeşti village, Cotovschi district (the field recording is part of the Gleb Ciaicovschi-Mereşanu Collection, National Archive of the Republic of Moldova). 

Thanks to Sandra Layman for transcribing and translating the Romanian verse. Thanks to Bret Werb for the information. Thanks to Carol Freeman, Paul Gifford, Joel Rubin, Suzanne Schwimmer and their friends who helped look for information on the Romanian song.

,דו אָרעם קינד מיט שוואַרצע האָר
.מיט שוואַרצע אויגן זאָג מיר גאָר
,פֿאַר וואָס דערציילסטו יעדן ייִד
?דו ביסט דאָס קינד פֿון קיינעם ניט

.אַ סך טרערן האָב איך פֿאַרגאָסן
.מײַן מאַמעניו האָט מען געשאָסן
.זי איז געשטאָרבן אויף דעם אָרט
.”מײַן טאָכטער” וואַר איר לעצטע וואָרט

ביילע (רעדט):  ס’איז אַ פּנים פֿון טראַנסניסטריע

.מײַן טאַטעניו האָב איך פֿאַרלוירן
.פֿאַר קעלט און הונגער איז ער אײַנגעפֿרוירן
,צו שטאַרבן וואַר זײַן ביטער לאָז
.אין אַן אוקראַיִנער קאָלכאָז

.איך האָב באַגראָבן מײַנע ליבע
.עלנט, אַליין ביך איך פֿאַרבליבן
:מען לאָזט מיך פֿילן אויף יעדן שריט
.איך בין דאָס קינד פֿון קיינעם ניט

.ביילע: ס’איז אַ ווערסיע וואָס מע האָט געמאַכט אין טראַנסניסטריע אָבער מיט אַ סך דײַטשמעריזמען

“Dus beymele shteyt in vald” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2022 by yiddishsong

Dus beymele shteyt in vald / The tree stands in the woods
A folklorized version of the Goldfaden song, “Elnt fun ale beymer vayt” sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman. Recorded by Leybl Kahn, New York City, 1954.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN
This is a folklorized version of the song “Elnt fun ale beymer vayt” from the Goldfaden operetta “Di kishifmakherin” also known as “Koldunye” (the witch), first performed in 1878.  It is sung by the young girl Mirele in the second act, first scene. A scan of the original Yiddish is attached from a New York edition of the play. 

The song presents an interesting case of folklorization, turning a theater song into a Yiddish orphan song, though with a hopeful ending which is atypical of Yiddish orphan songs. I have kept the false start and brief discussion afterwards with Leybl Kahn in which LSW says this song was learned in her hometown Zvinyetshke (now Ukraine).

Another folklorized version of this Goldfaden song was published in the second volume, Skuditski Folklor-lider, Moscow, 1936, p. 312, #52 (see screen shots attached below). There the song is extended with two new verses and keeps much more of the Goldfaden text than LSW’s.

Click here to listen to Frank Seiden singing a version of the original Goldfaden song, 1901, and click here to see the sheet music from the Library of Congress archive.

Dus beymele shteyt in vald
[False start]
Dus beymele shteyt in vald,
dus beymeledus beymele elnt, aleyn.
Azoy ikh nebekh yesoymele
In velt drey ekh mekh arim aleyn. 
Azoy ikh nebekh yesoymele
Drey zikh af der velt arim aleyn. 

The tree stands in the woods,
the tree, the tree all alone.
So I, alas, poor orphan,
Drift around this world alone

Dus beymele triknt ayn
in di bleter faln up.
 Zey faln gants arup. 
Azoy faln mayne trern. 
tse der naser erd arup, oy, arup. 
Azoy faln mayne trern. 
Tse der naser erd arup.

The tree dries up
and the leaves fall off.
They fall off completely.
So fall my tears to the wet ground.

Veyn nit in klug nit, yesoymele,
yesoymele, elnt, aleyn.
Es vet nokh blien dus beymele,
Dayn glikele vet nokh kimen tsi geyn.
Es vet nokh blien dus beymele,
Dayn glik vet nokh kimen tsu geyn.

Don’t cry and lament, dear orphan,
Orphan, alone and lonely.
The tree will once more blossom;
Your good fortune will return.


דאָס ביימעלע שטייט אין וואַלד,
דאָס ביימעלע, עלנט, אַליין
.אַזוי איך נעבעך יתומעלע
אין וועלט דריי איך מיך אַרום אַליין
.אַזוי איך נעבעל יתומעלע,
דריי זיך אויף דער וועלט אַרום אַליין.

דאָס ביימעלע טריקנט אײַן
און די בלעטער פֿאַלֹן אָפּ.
זיי פֿאַלן גאַנץ אַראָפּ.
אַזוי פֿאַלן מײַנע טרערן
צו דער נאַסער ערד אַראָפּ, אוי אַראָפּ.
אַזוי פֿאַלן מײַנע טרערןצו דער נאַסער ערד אַראָפּ.

וויין ניט און קלאָג ניט, יתומעלע,
יתומעלע, עלנט, אַליין
.עס וועט נאָך בליִען דאָס ביימעלע.
דײַן גליקעלע וועט נאָך קומען צו גיין.
עס וועט נאָך בליִען דאָס ביימעלע.
דײַן גליק וועט נאָך קומען צו גיין

From the New York edition of Goldfaden’s “Di kishifmakherin”:

Skuditski Folklor-lider, Moscow, 1936, p. 312, #52

Sheet music (from the Library of Congress, click here for LOC website):

“Es dremlt in geto” Performed by Sara Rosen

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Es dremlt in geto / The ghetto is sleeping
A Holocaust song sung by Sara Rosen, recorded by Itzik Gottesman, 1989 NYC.

………[Es dremlt in geto]

Mir zenen farriglt
mit drut un mit krad.
Ikh hob a shtetele, 
s’iż azoy sheyn. 
Ven ikh derman mekh,
es benkt zikh aheym.

…….[The ghetto is sleeping.]

We are locked in 
with wire and with chalk.
I have a small town, 
it’s so beautiful.
When I think of it,
I long to go home. 

Levune, levune, 
vus kiksti mekh un?
Az ikh bin hingerik,
dus geyt dikh nisht un.
Ikh hob a shtetele, 
s’iz azoy sheyn.
Ven ikh derman mekh,
es benkt zikh aheym. 

Moon, moon, 
why are you looking at me?
That I am hungry: 
you don’t care.
I have a small town,
it’s so beautiful.
When I think of it,
I long to go home.

Az m’et kimen fin arbet,
hingerik in mid,
Ervart indz dus esn,
kartofl mit gris. 
Ikh hob a shtetele,
s’iż azoy sheyn 
Ven ikh derman zikh,
es benkt zikh aheym.

When we’ll come from work, 
hungry and tired,
Food awaits us:
potato and grits
I have a small town,
it’s so beautiful.
When I think of it,
I long to go home. 

………   [ עס דרעמלט אין געטאָ]

מיר זענען פֿאַרריגלט
.מיט דראָט און מיט קרײַד
,איך האָב אַ שטעטעלע
.ס’איז אַזוי שיין
,ווען איך דערמאַן זיך
.עס בענקט זיך אַהיים

,לבֿנה, לבֿנה
?וואָס קוקסטו מיך אָן
,אַז איך בין הונגעריק
.דאָס גייט דיך נישט אָן
,איך האָב אַ שטעטעלע
.ס’איז אַזוי שיין
,ווען איך דערמאַן זיך
.עס בענקט זיך אַהיים

,אַז מע’ט קומען פֿון דער אַרבעט
,הונגעריק און מיד
,ערוואַרט אונדז דאָס עסן
.קאַרטאָפֿל מיט גריס
,איך האָב אַ שטעטעלע
.ס’איז אַזוי שיין
,ווען איך דערמאַן זיך
.עס בענקט זיך אַהיים

Biography of the Singer Sara Rosen by Mickey Rosen:

Sara Landerer Rosen was born in Krakow, Poland in 1925 into a Chasidic family.  She experienced an idyllic childhood until September 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland, initiating World War II. The war truncated Sara’s formal education at the end of eighth grade but it didn’t stop her thirst for learning. Sara took advantage of every opportunity available; in the ghetto, in British Mandate Palestine and later, in the State of Israel and finally in the USA. In 1977, Sara graduated from Fordham University with a BA in Philosophy.  

Sara Rosen

Sara was a prolific write, publishing her memoir My Lost World in 1993. In 2008, she published Prisoner of Memory, the life story of Itka Greenberg. Itka saved about 50 Jews during World War II, with Sara and her mother being two of the fortunate survivors. In between these two books, Sara translated the songs of Mordechai Gebirtig from Yiddish to English. Sara loved speaking and singing in Yiddish and remembered many of poems and songs from her youth.

Sara emigrated to the USA in 1956 with her husband, Joseph and two sons. Her family grew in the USA with the birth of a daughter. 

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

Es dremlt in shtetl

This song is a Holocaust adaptation of the popular 1920s-30s song “Ven es dremlt in shtetl” (also known as “Es dremlt/drimlt dos shtetl” or “Es dremlt dos shtetl”); text written by Yoysef Heftman (1888 – 1955), music by Gershon Eskman. There are several recordings of this song, among them by Sarah Gorby, Michele Tauber, Willi Brill, Violette Szmajer, Sheh-Sheh, Zahava Seewald. Here is a link to a recording by the singer Rebecca Kaplan and tsimbler Pete Rushefsky from their CD On The Paths: Yiddish Songs with Tsimbl.

Ruth Rubin recorded a version from a “Mrs. Hirshberg” in 1947. It is called “Es dremlt a shtetele” and here is the link to the song in the Ruth Rubin Legacy: Archive of Yiddish Folksongs at the YIVO Institute. 

Es dremlt in turme

Before the war, there already was a “parody” version of this song about languishing in prison. “Es dremlt in turme” [The prison is sleeping]. The words and music are printed in the “Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs” edited by Sinai Leichter, scans of this song are attached.

Ruth Rubin sings a version of this prison song in YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive.

Es dremlt in geto

Sara Rosen learned this song in Bucharest after she escaped from the Bochnia ghetto near Krakow. Though she forgets the first two lines, it is cleary an adaptation of “Es dremlt in shtetl”. There are several versions of this song using the same melody, but they all differ so significantly from each other, that to call them versions of the same song is a stretch. Meir Noy wrote down a version “Shtil is in geto” in his notebooks that can be found in the National Library in Jerusalem. Another version can be found in the collection “Dos lid fun geto: zamlung” edited by Ruta Pups, Warsaw, 1962. A scan of this version is attached. A third version was printed in the collection “We Are Here: Songs of the Holocaust”, edited by Eleanor G. Mlotek et al, 1983.

Special thanks for this post to Mickey Rosen, Rachel Rosen, Michael Alpert, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, her grandchildren the musicians Benjy Fox-Rosen, Avi Fox-Rosen.

I was introduced to Sara Rosen in 1989 by the Yiddish/Hebrew singer Tova Ronni z”l  (d. 2006) who lived in the same Upper West Side apartment building in NYC. That same day she introduced me to another singer in the building, David Shear, who sings “An ayznban a naye” on this blog. 

From Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs” edited by Sinai Leichter:

From Dos lid fun geto: zamlung, edited by Ruta Pups, Warsaw, 1962:

“A kheyder” from Simkhe Shvartz’s Kamelyon Theater Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

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A scene from Simkhe Shvartz’  Kamelyon theater in Chernovitz, Romania early 1930s.
As remembered and sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG], recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx 1990s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

From right: Simkhe Shvarts, Itzik Manger, Helios Hecht, Rose Auslander, Chernovitz, 1934.
Photo from Efrat Gal-Ed Niemandssprache

BSG spoken: 

Dus iz a sene vus Simkhe Shvarts hot ofgefirt in Chernovitz mit der amatorn-trupe Kamelyon.  “A kheyder” hot dus geheysn. 

This is a scene that Simkhe Shvarts put on in Chernovitz with the amateur troupe “Chameleon”.  It was called “A kheyder”. [traditional elementary school]

Tsigele, migele, kotenak
Royte pomerantsn.    
Az der rebe’z nishtu in kheyder, 
Geyen khevre tanstn. 

Nem zhe Tshaykl dem rebns kantshik 
Un varf im aran in hribe.
Ikh’n helfn dos kind talepen [telepen] 
Der rebetsin Teme-Libe.  

Avek di mamzer, di pachuk
Moykhl dir dus vign
Bald vet der rebe kimen. 
Vesti dans shoyn krign

Kinder der rebe’z in shil. 
Kimt zhe tsi aher in 
lernt dus naye shpil    
Shpiln zikh iz git, oy git.
ernen zikh, oy nit oy nit.
Shpiln zikh iz tayer    
Der kantshik ligt in fayer.   

A gitn-uvnt Libe! 
A gitn yingnmantshik.   
Freyg im nor deym takhsit. 
Vi es ligt der kantshik. 

[4 pupils reply]
“Rebe, ikh veys nisht”
¨Ikh veys gurnisht rebe.”  
“Rebe, ikh oykh nisht.”  
“Ikh veys oykh nisht rebe”

“Az s’i nishtu keyn kantshik 
iz du a rimen mit a shprontshik.
Arinter, lernen!¨   

Little goat, little kitten
Red oranges
When the teacher is not in school
The gang starts to dance. 

So Tshaykl take the teacher’s s whip  
and throw it into the heating stove.
I will help the teacher’s wife, Teme-Libe 
knock around the child

Get away you scoundrel, you rat
I don’t need your rocking. 
Soon the teacher will come
and you will get yours.

Children, the teacher is in the synagogue
so come over here
and learn the new game.
Playing is good, oy good.
Learning is not, oy not.
Playing is precious
The whip is in the fire. 

“Good evening Libe”
“Good evening, my young man.
Just ask this brat
where he put the whip”.


 “Teacher, I know nothing”
 ¨I know nothing, teacher.¨
“Teacher, I too know nothing”
“I too know not, teacher”

¨Well if there’s no whip
There is the leather strap with a buckle.
Sit down and learn!¨ 

BSG added later, spoken: Everyone then sat down around the long table and started to rock back and forth and learn. Meanwhile the teacher fell asleep, so they took his leather strap and threw it into the fire. Then they sang again the first verse again:

Tsigele, migele, kotinak….

The Kamelyon [Chameleon] theater in Chernovitz was founded  in 1929 and directed by Simkhe Schvartz (aka Simcha Schwartz – September 1, 1900 – August 14, 1974),  a leader of Yiddish culture between the world wars in the Romanian city Chernovitz (today in the Ukraine –  Cernivtsi). He was a sculptor, dramaturge, director, and songwriter. He is perhaps most known for his Parisian Yiddish puppet theater Hakl-bakl (1949 – 52) in which Marc Chagall and Itsik Manger participated. Simkhe Shvartz had two younger brothers, Julian Shvartz and Itzik Shvarts (aka I. Kara), also writers and important figures in the Yiddish cultural world in Romania.

The skits of Kamelyon , created by Shvarts, often were comprised of adapted Yiddish folksongs strung together to form a plot. “A kheyder” uses folky elements: the opening rhyme is adapted from the children’s rhyme  “Tsigele, migele kotinke” (two examples in Ginzburg/Marek, 1901 and two more in I. L Cahan, 1952). Ruth Rubin sings two versions that can be listened to in YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive. https://ruthrubin.yivo.org/categories/browse/Dublin+Core/Title/Tsigele%2C+migele%2C+kotinke?site=site-r

More recently, Israeli singer Ruth Levin sings a song that begins with Tsigele-migele, words by J. Joffe, music by N. Zaslavsky on her CD of children’s songs Tsigele-migele

Singer/composer Efim Chorney has set music to Yiddish poet Meir Charat’s song “Tsigele-migele” and it can be found on the Klezmer Alliance CD Mir Basaraber.

Another folk element in “A kheyder” – the melody of the Yiddish folksong, “Dire-gelt” is used (can be found in the Mlotek songbook Mir trogn a gezang.) starting with the line “Shpiln zikh iz git.”

Please note that the teacher in the traditional elementary school, the kheyder, is addressed as “rebe” and is not to be confused with a Hasidic leader also called “rebe”.

Special thanks this week to Eliezer Niborski.



“Shikhelekh” Performed by Gertrude Singer and Manya Bender

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“שיכעלעך/Shikhelekh/Shoes” – An early American Yiddish theater song that crossed the Atlantic and came back. First version sung by Gertrude Singer, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore 1979 from the archive of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Second version sung by Manya Bender, recorded by Ruth Rubin 1950, NYC, found at the Ruth Rubin Archive, YIVO.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

“Shikhelekh” a song about a boy in an immigrant family desperate to get a new pair of shoes, is interesting because there are two versions: one with a sad ending and one with a happy ending.

The older version, 5 verses long, with the sadder ending was first printed in the 1897 compilation Di yidishe bine, ed. J. KatzenelenbogenNY. (A scan is attached). In this version the boy complains he cannot go to school barefoot and asks his father to buy a pair of shoes in the store next to his school. The song concludes with the father, “powerless”, crying together with the boy. This version was reprinted with the title “Papa mit dem shikhele” no date, in American Yiddish Penny Songs edited by Jane Peppler, 2015. (scan attached). We have not yet found recordings of this older version.

The newer version ( approx. 1916) with a “happy ending” concludes with a verse that relates how that young barefoot boy is now a lawyer and the girl he is with, playing “fortepian”, is his bride. The final refrain is:

Nu, Papa do you remember how eight years ago,
when I cried and begged you to buy me a pair of shoes.
Now I am a lawyer, and will make you happy for all of your years.

The singer, Gertrude Singer (1900 – 1979), recounts how she sang it often on the ship coming to America from Warsaw. In the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO, Manye Bender who learned the song in Bessarabia  “on the way to America.” also sings the new version.  Click here for her performance, beginning with the line “In droysn iz fintster”. 

The transcription, translation and Yiddish of both versions follows below.

It is not clear who the composer is of the older “unhappy” version. The Mloteks point out in their Forverts newspaper column that in the collection “Di yidishe bine” it is placed right after Morris Rosenfeld poems but it does not appear in his collected works. In the column on June 20, 1976, the music as remembered by a reader is also printed.

The later-adapted revision with the happy ending was the work of the singer Josef/Joseph Feldman around 1916. On a song sheet for “Shichalach” as sung by Moishe Oisher (no date), the words are credited to singer Joseph (Josef) Feldman (scans attached). But on page two, it is written “Version by Jos Feldman”, acknowledging his text as a revision of an earlier song. On a 78 rpm record (1916) Josef Feldman recorded it and one can hear it at the Florida Atlantic University “Recorded Sound Archives”

In 1938, Joseph Feldman published the Joseph Feldman’s Yiddish Theaterical Magaizine. The verses and music are published here.

The happy vs. sad ending of “Shikhelekh”  brings up an interesting point: could the generation after the original 1890s version no longer accept such a sad ending, and thus inspire the happy, nostalgic song conclusion of 1916?

Thanks this week to Jane Peppler, Steven Lasky and his Museum of the Yiddish Theater, the YIVO Sound Archives and the Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University. 

TRANSLITERATION, TRANSLATION and YIDDISH

Shikhelekh sung by Gertrude Singer, recorded in 1979.

1 ) In droysn is fintster, in droysn iz nas,
un du gey ikh borves, ikh ken nisht geyn in gas.
Papa, ikh beyt mir far dir azoy fil mul.
koyf mir a pur shikhelekh. Ikh ken nisht geyn in “skul.”
Oy papa, di zolst dir oysbeytn a git yur.
Koyf mir, papele, shikhelekh a pur.  
Oy, koyf mir, papele, shikhelekh a pur.

2) Der papa blaybt shteyn mit a troyern [troyerik] geveyn
biz zayne trern faln afn kind aleyn.
“Kind mayns, du veyst vi azey ikh hob dikh lib.
Tsulib dayne shikhelekh vel ikh farpanen a kishn fun shtib.
Oy kind mayns, mir zoln shoyn nisht hobn mer keyn noyt.
Tsulib dayne shikhelekh hob [iz nishto] ikh nishto keyn broyt.
Orem mayn kind iz nokh erger vi der toyt.”

3) In di tsayt flit avek un es iz shoyn akht yur
Kik on [?] dem boychik, er vert shoyn a “loyer.”
Dort zitst a meydele vos zi shpilt pian.
Me zugt az dos meydele vet dem loyer’s kale zayn.
Nu, papa, gedenkstu tsurik mit akht yur
ven ikh hob dikh gebeytn far shikhelekh a pur.
Yetst bin ikh loyer un ikh makh dikh glikekh 
af ale dayne yor.

1) Outside it’s dark; outside it’s wet,
and I am walking barefoot; I can’t go in the street.
Papa, I’ve asked you so many times
to buy me a pair of shoes. I can’t go to school.
Oy papa, may you succeed in praying for a good year.
Buy me, papa, a pair of shoes
Oy, buy me, dear papa, a pair of shoes

2) Papa remains standing with a sad weeping,
until his tears drop on his child.
“My child, you know how much I love you:
because of your shoes, there is no bread.
To be poor is worse than death.”

3)  Time flies and it’s eight years later.
Look at the boy [?] – he is soon to be a  lawyer.
There sits a girl who plays grand piano.
They say that she will be the lawyer’s bride.
So, papa, remember eight years ago
when I begged you for a pair of shoes?
Now I am a lawyer and I will make you happy
all of your years.

שיכעלעך 
געזונגען פֿון גערטרוד זינגער
רעקאָרדירט פֿון גערטרוד ניצבערג
.אין דרויסן איז פֿינצטער, אין דרויסן אין נאַס

.און דאָ גיי איך באָרוועס, איך קען נישט גיין אין גאַס
,פּאַפּאַ, איך בעט מיר פֿאַר דיר אַזוי פֿיל מאָל
.קויף מיר אַ פּאָר שיכעלעך. איך קען נישט קיין אין סקול
.אוי, פּאַפּאַ, דו זאָלסט דיר אויסבעטן אַ גוט יאָר
.קויף מיר, פּאַפּעלע, שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
“.אוי, קויף מיר, פּאַפּעלע, שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר

דער פּאַפּאַ בלײַבט שטיין מיט אַ טרויעריק געוויין
.ביז זײַנע טרערן פֿאַלֹן אויפֿן קינד אַליין
.קינד מײַנס, דו ווייסט ווי אַזוי איך האָב דיך ליב”
.צוליב דײַנע שיכעלעך, וועל איך פֿאַרפּאַנען אַ קישן פֿון שטוב
.אוי, קינד מײַנס, מיר זאָלן שוין נישט האָבן מער קיין נויט
.צוליב דײַנע שיך איז נישטאָ קיין ברויט
“.אָרעם, מײַן קינד, איז נאָך ערגער ווי דער טויט
און די צײַט פֿליט אַוועק און עס איז שוין אַכט יאָר

.קוק אָן דעם בויטשיק; ער ווערט שוין אַ לויער
.דאָרטן זיצט אַ מיידעלע, וואָס זי שפּילט פּיאַן.
.מע זאָגט, אַז דאָס מיידעלע, וועט דעם לויערס כּלה זײַן
,נו, פּאַפּאַ, געדענקסטו צוריק מיט אַכט יאָר”
?ווען איך האָב דיך געבעטן פֿאַר שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
יעצט בין איך איצט לויער און איך מאַך דיך גליקלעך 
.אויף אַלֹע דײַנע יאָר.

TRANSLITERATION, TRANSLATION AND YIDDISH

Shikhelekh by Manya Bender

1) In droysn iz fintster, in droysn iz nas.
“ikh hob nit kayn shikhelekh tsu geyn oyf der gas.
Papa, ikh bet dir, azoy fil mol.
Koyf zhe mir shoyn, koyf zhe mir shoyn shikhelekh a por.
Koyf zhe mir shoyn, koyf zhe mir shoyn shikhelekh a por.”

2) S’iz avek gegangen a lange tsayt,
Dos kind iz gevorn a groyser advokat.
Er zitst mit zayn meydl, zey shpiln beyde pian.
di meydl zogt, zi vil zayn kale zayn.
“Papa, gedenkstu mit azoy fil yor tsurik.
Ikh hob dir gebeytn shikhelekh a por?
Un itst makh ikh dir gilklekh af ale dayne yor.” 

TRANSLATION of BENDER

1) Outside it’s dark, outside it’s wet
“I don’t have a shoes to go out in the street.
Papa, I’ve asked you so many times  
Buy me, buy me a pair of shoes.”

2)  A long time had passed.
The child became a big-time lawyer.
He sits with his girlfriend; they both are playing piano.
The girl says she wants to be his bride.
Papa, do you remember many years ago?
I asked you to get me a pair of shoes.
And now I will make you happy the rest of your days.

שיכעלעך 
געזונגען פֿון מאַניע בענדער
פֿון רות רובין-אַרכיוו, ייִוואָ

.אין דרויסן איז פֿינצטער, אין דרויסן איז נאַס”
.איך האָב ניט קיין שיכעלעך צו גיין אויף דער גאַס
,פּאַפּאַ, איך בעט דיך, אַזוי פֿיל מאָל
קויף זשע מיר שוין, קויף זשע מיר שוין
.שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר
קויף זשע מיר שוין, קויף זשע מיר שוין
“.שיכעלעך אַ פּאָר

.ס’איז אַוועק געגאַנגען אַ לאַנגע צײַט
.דאָס קינד איז געוואָרן אַ גרויסער אַדוואָקאַט
.ער זיצט מיט זײַן מיידל, זיי שפּילן ביידע פּיִאַן
.די מיידל זאָגט זי וויל זײַן כּלה זײַן
פּאַפּאַ, געדענסטו מיט אַזוי פֿיל יאָר צוריק”
?איך האָב דיר געבעטן שיִכעלעך אַ פּאָר
“און איצט מאַך איך דיר גליקלעך אויף אַלע דײַנע יאָר

Di yidishe bine, ed. J. Katzenelenbogen, NY (1897):

American Yiddish Penny Songs edited by Jane Peppler, 2015:

“Bay indz azoy fil kodres grine”, a Doina Performed by Anna Esther Steinbaum

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2021 by yiddishsong

Bay indz azoy fil kodres grine (“Doina”)
A Romanian poem adapted into a Yiddish song.
Sung by Anna Esther Steinbaum, recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Jerusalem 1997.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The singer, Anna Esther Steinbaum (also known as Anna Rauchwerger Steinbaum), was from Chernovitz, Romania, and was active in the Yiddish cultural life there before the war. After the war, in Israel, she remained close to the Chernovitz intellectuals and translated Itzik Manger’s ballads into German.

Romania’s Mureș River

What makes this week’s song extraordinary is that though the text was written by an anti-Semitic, ultra-nationalist Romanian poet, whose politics were well known, a Yiddish poet found his poetry moving enough to adapt into a Yiddish song.

I met with her several times in 1997-98 in her apartment in Jerusalem. At this particular meeting my mother Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman was also present and occasionally can be heard as Steinbaum sings. Steinbaum found this song in a written notebook she had kept where she wrote down the songs she remembered. 

In her notebook the song is entitled “Doina” but it is  an adaptation of a Romanian poem “Noi” [“We”]  by Octavian Goga (1881 – 1938), a virulent fascist Romanian nationalist and anti-Semite, who was briefly the Romanian Prime Minister in 1938, when he stripped the Jews of their Romanian citizenship  

The Yiddish reworking of the song was done, according to Steinbaum, by the Romanian Yiddish writer Herts Rivkin, the author of the song “Nakhtishe lider” previously posted on the Yiddish Song of the Week

Here is a link to the longer original poem by Goga recited in Romanian with an English translation. 

Bay indz azoy fil kodres grine 

A Romanian poem by Octavian Goga, adapted in Yiddish by Hertz Rivkin. 

Bay indz azoy fil kodres grine [kodres=codri ]וועלדער 
velder fil mit korn. 
Bay undz azoy fil blumen, lider,
in shtiblekh fil mit tsorn. 

We have so mayn green woods,
forests full of rye.
We have so many flowers, songs,
in homes that are full of rage.

Kimen feygelekh fin vaytn
indzer doina hern. 
Bay indz azoy fil shmeterlingen
in taykhn trern, trern.

Birds come to us from afar
to hear our doina.
We have so many butterflies
in rivers of tears, tears.

Umet flist in shtiln muresh [Murăşul = Romanian river]
troyer rint in ovnt.
Es dertseylt fin indzer benkshaft
yeyder boym in vald.

Sadness flows quietly into the Murasul river;
Sadness runs in the evening.
Our longing is told by
every tree in the forest.

Zitsn mames gantse nekht,
shpinen layvnt, veybn. 
Tates, mames in oykh zin 
baveynen dus zeyer leybn.

Mothers stay up all night
spinning linen, weaving. 
Fathers, mother and sons too
lament their lives. 

Benkt zikh indz azoy nukh freyd.
Der vald iz undzer eydes.
Oysgevaremt hot di benkshaft
zeydes, elter-zeydes.

We yearn so for joy;
the woods are our witness.
This yearing was hatched 
by our grandfathers and their fathers. 

Un biz haynt iz ot der khulem
mekiyem nisht gevorn:
felder oysgebet mit veyts
shtiblekh fil mit tsorn. 

And till today this dream has
not been realized:
fields covered with wheat,
homes full of rage.

בײַ אונדז אַזוי פֿיל קאָדרעס גרינע
אַ רומעניש ליד פֿון אָקטאַוויאַן גאָגאַ
באַאַרבעט אויף ייִדיש פֿון הערץ ריווקין
געזונגען פֿון אַנאַ אסתּר שטיינבאַום

,בײַ אונדז אַזוי פֿיל קאָדרעס גרינע
.וועלדער פֿיל מיט קאָרן
,בײַי אונדז אַזוי פֿיל בלומען, לידער
.אין שטיבלעך פֿיל מיט צאָרן

זיצן מאַמעס גאנצע נעכט
.שפּינען לײַוונט, וועבן
טאַטעס, מאַמעס און אויך זין
.באַוויינען דאָס זייער לעבן

קומען פֿייגעלעך פֿון ווײַטן
.אונדזער דוינע הערן
בײַ אונדז אַזוי פֿיל שמעטערלינגען
.אין טײַכן טרערן, טרערן

אומעט פֿליסט אין שטילן מורעש
טרויער רינט אין אָוונט
עס דערציילט פֿון אונדזער בענקשאַפֿט
יעדער בוים אין וואַלד

.בענקט זיך אונדז אַזוי נאָך פֿרייד
.דער וואַלד איז אונדזער עדות
אויסגעוואַרעמט האָט די בענקשאפֿט
.זיידעס, עלטער־זיידעס

און ביז הײַנט איז אָט דער חלום 
.מקוים נישט געוואָרן
,פֿעלדער, אויסגעבעט מיט ווייץ
.שטיבלעך פֿול מיט צאָרן

“Fin mitvokh in der fri (Hot a yid a vaybele)” Performed by Lifshe Schaecther Widman and Beyle Schaechter Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2020 by yiddishsong

Fin mitvokh in der fri (Hot a yid a vaybele) / From Wednesday Morning (A Man Has a Wife)
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) and Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman. LSW recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NYC

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This popular song was copyrighted in the US in 1922 by Morris Goldstein, who is listed as composer and lyricist. But this is doubtful since Pepi Litman and Helen Gespass recorded a version in 1912/1913 in Budapest or Lemberg. Apparently even earlier, in 1907, Hungarian singers recorded it (see Bob Cohen’s comments below).

Here is LSW, recorded by Leybl Kahn in New York, 1954:

More recently LSW’s daughter Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman recorded Lifshe’s version on her CD Bay mayn mames shtibele with Nigel Jacobs on violin, recorded live at the Cactus Cafe in Austin, November 9th, 1993. Her lyrics are basically the same as LSW, though I do prefer her word “badekn” to LSW’s word “dekn”.

Here is the Peppi Litman version:

And here is the Gespass version:

Since the instrumental version of the song on the recording Maramaros: The Lost Jewish Music of Transylvania of the Hungarian group – Muzsikas, made such an impression, I asked Budapest resident Bob Cohen, researcher of Roma and Hungarian and Jewish musical connections, leader of the pioneering klezmer ensemble Di naye kapelye, for his take on the song.

Bob Cohen writes:

“Hot a yid a vajbele” is definitely the most popular and widespread Yiddish song in the Hungarian language area. Almost everyone I spoke with in the early 1990s knew it, and it was a standard at our old-age home gigs. It remains in the repertoire of Roma bands in Transylvania as “the Jewish song” and some even sing along to it in macaronic yid-speak as “Itta, Itta Babele”. I’ve also heard it played by Roma orchestras in Slovakia.  What is interesting is the fact that knowledge of the tune seems to have completely been forgotten among the post WWII generation of Jews, given the popularity it had among older folks I met in around 1990.

A testament to its staying power is this recording by Zoldi Marton in 1907 (Most of Zoldi’s other songs are comical Hungarian nota style in Hungarian). Also a 1912 version by the Toll Jancsi Orchestra, or the same band in 1907.

The version I played on our (Di naye kapelye’s) first recording back in 1997 came from the Gypsy primas (lead violinist) Andras Horvath of Jankamajitis, near Csenger on the Romanian border. He learned his Jewish tunes from a Jewish musician family named “Markus” before the war. He became a Seventh Day Adventist in later life, and he called me over once to tell me his life story and his relationship to Jews.

Thanks this week to Robert Cohen and Martin Schwartz. Please note: though still performed today, the song’s dated humor is misogynistic.

Fin mitvokh in der fri
biz fraytik far nakht
hot Surele mayn vayb
deym kigl gemakht.

From Wednesday in the morning
until Friday twilight,
Surele my wife
made a kugel. 

Hot a yid a vaybele
hot er fin ir tsures.
Hot a yid a vaybele
toyg zi af kapures.

A man [Jew] has a wife;
she gives him trouble,
A man has a wife
and she is not good for anything.

Vi s’iz gekimen
shabes tsim esn,
hot Surele mayn vayb
fin deym kigl gur fargesn.

When the Sabbath arrives
and  it’s time to eat.
Surele, my wife
forgot all about the kugel.

Hot a yid a vaybele
hot er fin ir tsures.
hot a yid a vaybele
toyg zi af kapures.

A man has a wife;
she gives him trouble.
A man has a wife
and she is not good for anything.

Hot er gekhapt 
deym grobn shtekn
Un hot ir ungehoybn 
git tsi dekn.

So he got
his thick cane
and started to 
beat [cover] her. 

Hot a yid a vaybele
hot er fin ir tsures.
hot a yid a vaybele
toyg zi af kapures.

A man [Jew] has a wife;
she gives him trouble,
A man has a wife
and she is not good for anything.

Hot zi gekhapt
di alte shkrabes,
tsim tatn iz zi 
avek deym shabes.

So she grabbed
her old worn-out shoes
and went to her father
for the Sabbath.

Hot a yid a vaybele
toyg zi af kapures
hot a yid a yidene
hot er fin ir tsures.

A man [Jew] has a wife;
she is good for nothing.
A man has a wife
and she gives him trouble.

Hobn di shkeynim
ungehoybn shpekulirn
me zol dus porfolk
vider tsuzamen firn. 

So the neighbors
started to speculate/plan
how to bring the couple
together again.

Hot a yid a vabele
hot er fin ir tsures.
hot a yid a vaybele
hot er fin ir tsures.

A man [Jew] has a wife;
and she gives him trouble.
A man has a wife
and she gives him trouble

האָט אַ ייִד אַ ווײַבעלע
געזונגען פֿון ליפֿשע שעכטער-ווידמאַן

פֿון מיטוואָך אין דער פֿרי
ביז פֿרײַטיק פֿאַר נאַכט
האָט שׂרהלע מײַן ווײַב
.דעם קוגל געמאַכט

האָט אַ ייִד אַ ווײַבעלע
,האָט ער פֿון איר צרות
האָט אַ ייִד אַ ווײַבעלע
.טויג זי אויף כּפֿרות

ווי ס’איז געקומען
,שבת צום עסן 
האָט שׂרהלע מײַן ווײַב
.פֿון דעם קוגל גאָר פֿאַרגעסן

האָט אַ ייִד אַ ווײַבעלע
,האָט ער פֿון איר צרות
האָט אַ ייִד אַ ווײַבעלע
.טויג זי אויף כּפֿרות

האָט ער געכאַפּט 
,דעם גראָבן שטעקן
און האָט איר אָנגעהויבן
.גוט צו דעקן

האָט אַ ייִד אַ ווײַבעלע
,האָט ער פֿון איר צרות
האָט אַ ייִד אַ ווײַבעלע
.טויג זי אויף כּפֿרות

האָט זי געכאַפּט
די אַלטע שקראַבעס
צום טאַטן איז זי
.אַוועק דעם שבת

האָט אַ ייִד אַ ווײַבעלע
,האָט ער פֿון איר צרות
האָט אַ ייִד אַ ייִדענע
.האָט ער פֿון איר צרות

האָבן די שכנים
אָנגעהויבן שפּעקולירן
מע זאָל דאָס פּאָרפֿאָלק
.ווידער צוזאַמענפֿירן

האָט אַ ייִד אַ ווײַבעלע
.האָט ער פֿון איר צרות