Archive for Ruth Rubin Archive

“Der yold iz mir mekane” An Underworld Song Performed by Yetta Seidman

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Der yold iz mir mekane / The fool envies me
A song from the Jewish underworld sung by Yetta Seidman
Recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore 1979, collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland

TRANSCRIPTION AND TRANSLATION 
(Yiddish transcription at the end of this post)

Der yold iz mir mekane. Der yold iz mir mekane.
Der yold iz mir mekane far mayn urem shtikele broyt.
Er vil fin gurnit visn, vi ikh ver oysgerisn
Es kimt mir un biter vi der toyt.

The sucker/fool/patsy envies me. The fool envies me.
The fool envies me because of my dismal piece of bread.
He doesn’t want to know how I suffer.
It is as hard for me as death.

Mayn mame in mayn tate, zey zenen geveyzn blate.
Fin kayn tsuris hob ikh bay zey keyn mol nit gevist.
Ven ikh bin gevorn elter, zenen zey gevorn kelter
in ganvenen hot zikh mir farglist.         

My mother and my father; they were in the underworld.
I did not know of any troubles with them.
When I got older, they became colder,
And I got the desire to steal.

Ikh gey aroys in market, in khap zikh tsi a pocket.
A mise-matn [mase-matn] hob ikh zikh dortn ungemakht.
Es kimt tsi geyn a yenta, in brengt mit zikh a mente
in in “Steyshun-hoyz” hot men mir gebrakht.

I go out into the market, and pick a pocket,
I committed a theft [literally – transaction]  over there.
A trouble-making woman comes over and brings with her a cop
and to the Station House I was brought.

In droysn geyt a reygn, in droysn geyt a reygn.
Se iz zikh shoyn ongefaln a kleyn bisele shney.
Ale mayne yurn in “prizin” upgezesn,
Az yeder eyver tit zikh mir shoyn vey.

Outside it’s raining; outside it’s raining.
A small bit of snow has already fallen
All of my years I spent in prison
So every part of me hurts.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

Probably the most popular of the Jewish underworld songs, there is an East European version and an American version. Seidman sings the American version which includes the English language words “market” “pocket” “station house” and “prison”.

Those words are not found in the East European version. But on both sides of the Atlantic the Yiddish underworld slang words are kept – “mente” (policeman), “blate” (criminal) “mase-matn” (a theft, a criminal act but literally “transaction”).

Image: M. Leizerowicz in the play “Motke Ganef” by Sholem Asch from the Yizkor (Memorial) Book of Piotrkow Trybunalski

The song often begins with the verse “In droysn geyt a regn mit a kleyn bisele shney” and for those grammarians out there – the first line is usually sung “Der yold iz mikh mekane”.

Another version of the song, with a slightly different melody can be heard in the YIVO Ruth Rubin archive. On this 78 rpm record Morris Goldstein sings the original (?) American version (1922):

The song is featured in the film “Image Before My Eyes” (1980) sung by Lillian (Leyele) Klempner. According to Lehman in his collection Ganovim-lider (1928), the song was written during the German occupation of WW1. Scans of Lehman’s version from Poland, words and music, are attached. Also see Jane Peppler’s comments on the song:

דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא
געזונגען פֿון יעטע זײַדמאַ

.דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא. דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא
.דער יאָלד איז מיר מקנא מיט מײַן אָרעם שטיקעלע ברויט
.ער וויל פֿון גאָרניט וויסן, ווי איך ווער אָפּגעריסן
.עס קומט מיר אָן ביטער ווי דער טויט

.מײַן מאַמע און מײַן טאַטע, זיי זענען געוועזן בלאַטע
.פֿון קיין צרות האָב איך בײַ זיי קיין מאָל נישט געוווּסט
ווען איך בין געוואָרן עלטער, זענען זיי געוואָרן קעלטער
.און גנבֿענען האָט זיך מיר פֿאַרגלוס

.”איך גיי אַרויס אין “מאַרקעט” און כאַפּ זיך צו אַ “פּאַקעט
.אַ משׂא־מתּן האָב איך דאָרטן אָנגעמאַכט
עס קומט צו גיין אַ יענטע און ברענגט מיט זיך אַ מענטע
.און אין “סטיישאָן”־הויז האָט מען מיר געבראַכט

אין דרויסן גייט אַ רעגן, אין דרויסן גייט אַ רעגן
.אין דרויסן גייט אַ רעגן און סע איז זיך שוין אָנגעפֿאַלן אַ קליין ביסעלע שניי
אַלע מײַנע יאָרן אין “פּריזאָן” אָפּגעזעסן
.אַז יעדער אבֿר טוט זיך מיר שוין וויי

From Szmil Lehman, Ganovim lider : miṭ melodyes. Warsaw, 1928:

Shteyt of lavoydes-haboyre!: The Shulklaper’s Call to Prayer

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Shteyt of lavoydes-haboyre! / Wake up to pray! 
Five versions of the call to prayer of the shulklaper in Eastern Europe.

Painting of a shulklaper by Mayer Kirshenblatt from the book “They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland before the Holocaust” (University of California Press, 2007)

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

This week we present five different recordings of the call of the shulklaper or shammes [synagogue sexton] to the congregants to prayer. In the towns of Eastern Europe the shulklaper went door to door, knocking on the window shutters. This was done before the Sabbath, for the Selihot/slikhes prayers in the month of Elul and for the midnight service “khtsos” חצות. 

We have transcribed and translated the words to three of the versions after the mp3s.

The five recordings are:

1) “Am kodoysh” A Galician version by Berish Katz from the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO. It can also be heard on Ruth Rubin’s LP “The Jewish Life: The Old Country”.

2) “Shteyt of” from the Stonehill Collection. Singer unidentified (1948).

3) Leah Israelit from her LP record “Songs That I Remember: Melodies from Eretz Yisroel and Bessarabia” (Tikva T-79). A Bessarabian version.

4) A field recording made by Moshe Beregovski, entitled “Khtsos” sung by Eli Spivak, Kiev, 1929, from Volume 6 “Historical Collection of Jewish Musical Folklore 1912 – 1947”. Clearly related to Israelit’s version.

5) A contemporary Hasidic version that we found on Youtube, sung by Belzer khosid, Yermiah Damen (2009)

6)  In addition, at the bottom of this post, we have added a scan of this “call” from Marcy Nulman’s Concise Encyclopedia of Jewish Music (1975). We include his entire entry for “schulklapper” which he learned from a Vilna cantor. He also presents the melody and text of a selikhot call in the Sephardic tradition. 

I have written a more extensive article on the “shulklaper” in the Yiddish Forverts newspaper, Sept. 23, 2019.

TRANSLITERATION / TRANSLATION OF TEXTS

1) The Beresh Katz version (from Galicia)

Spoken: 

All the Jews woke up for “khtsos” [midnight prayers] almost every day. By knocking with a hammer the shammus [sexton] called.

Friday night, when Jews cannot carry a hammer and cannot knock, he sang a melody with all his heart with these words:

עם קדוש! שטייט אויף און גייט לעבֿודת-הבורא
כּי לכּך נוצרתּי
עצל עד מתי תּשכּבֿ

Am kodoysh!
Shteyt of un geyt lavoydes-haboyre.
Ki lekekh notsarti.
Eytsl ladmusay tishkov

Holy people!
Wake up to serve the creator!
For this we were born.
Hurry! How late will you sleep?

2)  Unidentified female singer from the Ben Stonehill Collection:

!שטייט אויף! שטייט אויף!   שטייט אויף! שטייט שוין אַלע אויף
צו עבֿודת־הבורא
אָן פּחד און אָן מורא
שטייט אויף צו עבֿודת־הבורא
שלאָף שוין ניט יידעלע,  שפּיל אויף דיין פֿידעלע
.אין ירושלים
!שטייט אויף

Shteyt of! Shteyt of! Shteyt of!
Shteyt shoyn ale of!
Tsi avoydes-haboyre.
Un pakhad in un moyre.
Shteyt of tsi avoydes-haboyre.
Shluf shoyn nit yidele.
Shpil of dayn fidele
in Yerushelayim. 
Shteyt of!

Awaken! Awaken! Awaken!
Wake up for everyone
to serve the creator [to pray].
Sleep no longer dear Jew.
Play on your fiddle
in Jerusalem.
Awaken!

3)  Singer Leah Israelit from Markulesht, Bessarabia (Mărculeşti, Moldova): 
Israelit learned it from “Shmuel the sexton.”

!שטייט אויף, שטייט אויף
לעבֿודת־הבורא
—עצל עצל למה תּשכּבֿ
קום לעבודת־הבורא
אדם דואג לאבוד דמיו
ואינו דואג לאבוד ימיו
!אוי, שטייט אויף

דמיו, דימיו אינם עוזרים
ימיו, ימיו אינם חוזרים
!אוי, שטייט אויף

.אויף דרײַ זאַכן וועק איך אײַך יידעלעך
אויף חורבן־בית־המיקדש
און אויף גלות־השכינה
.אוי, און אויף צרות־ישראל
שטייט אויף, שטייט אויף
!לעבֿודת־הבורא

Shteyt of! shteyt of!
Lavoydas-haboyre.
Eytsl, eytsl lama tishkov.
Kum lavoydat [lavoydes] haboyre.
Udem doyeg al ibed yumov
veeynu doyeg al ibed yumov
Oy, shteyt of!
Dumov, dumov eynom ozrim.
Yumov, yumov eynem khozrim.

Oy, shteyt of! Lavodas-haboyre
af khurbn beys-hamikdesh
un af gules-haskhine
Oy! un af tsores-yisrol.
Shteyt of! shteyt of!
Lavodas-haboyre!

For three things do I awaken you dear Jews:
for the destruction of the Temple
Oy! and for the exile of the Shekhinah [=Divine Presence] and for the troubles of the Jewish people.
Wake up!  Wake up to pray!

Wake up! Wake up!
To serve the creator. [ = to prayer]
Hurry, hurry, why do you sleep?
Awaken for prayer.
Man worries about losing his money
and man worries about losing his days.
His days do not return.

Below: entry on “Schulklopfer” from Marcy Nulman’s Concise Encyclopedia of Jewish Music (1975):