Archive for sabbath

“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

tsudek1

tsudek2

tsudek3

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“Mirtseshem af shabes” Performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2018 by yiddishsong

Mirtseshem af shabes / God Willing, This Sabbath
Performance by Khave Rosenblatt
Recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
Jerusalem, 1970s
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The most popular version of this 19th century mock-Hasidic song begins with the line “Ver hot dos gezen…” or “Tsi hot men azoyns gezen…” (“Who has seen this” or “Who has every seen anything like this”). In the Mlotek’s collection Mir trogn a gezang, pages 126-127.  the song is called “Dos lid fun ayznban” (“The Song About the Train”).  Theodore Bikel recorded that version on his LP “Theodore Bikel Sings Jewish Folksongs” 1959.

Khave Rosenblatt’s version however is closer in some respects to the variants found in the collections Yidishe folks-lider, ed. Itzik Fefer and Moyshe Beregovski, Kiev 1938. pp. 386-387  (see below) and in A.Z. Idelsohn’s The Folk Song of The East European Jews, volume 9 of his Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies, song # 558, beginning with the line “Nokh shabes imirtseshem….”.   Idelsohn also includes the “Ver hot dos gezen..” version, #556, from the German journal Ost und West. A scan of that page is also attached (see below)

train whistle

Only Rosenblatt’s theatrical version plays with the verbs “fayfn” (“fafn” in her dialect), which means “whistle” and  “onfayfen”  (“unfafn” in her dialect) meaning “to thumb one’s nose at.” One could easily imagine the wandering entertainers, the Broder Singers, performing this song in the wine cellars of the 19th century in Galicia.

TRANSLITERATION
Mirtseshem af shobes
vel ikh bam rebn zan.
Ikh vel tsiklugn di hiltayes, di drobes
vus zey nemen azoy fil gelt un zey leygn in dr’erd aran.

Rebe, hot er a fafer
mit a meshenem knop.
Er faft indz un hekher in hekher
in er vet gurnisht vern farshtopt.

Er faft un faft un faft un faft un faft
Er vil gurnisht oyfhern.
mit dem rebns koyekh
vet di ban tseshlugn vern.

TRANSLATION
God willing this Sabbath
I will spend with the Rebbe.
I will denounce the hedonists, the wastrels,
who take so much money and spend it wildy. [lit: bury it in the ground]

Rebbe, what a whistle it has!
with a brass knob.
He thumbs his nose at us louder and louder,
and nothing shuts him up.

He whistles and whistles and whistles and whistles and whistles
and doesn’t want to stop.
With the Rebbe’s power
the train will be trounced.

dos lid gottesman

Khane and Joe Mlotek, Mir trogn a gezang, pages 126-127:

dos lid mlotek

Yidishe folks-lider, ed. Itzik Fefer and Moyshe Beregovski, Kiev 1938. pp. 386-387:
miritzhashem (1)

dos lid fefer 2b

A.Z. Idelsohn’s The Folk Song of The East European Jews, volume 9 of Thesaurus of Hebrew Oriental Melodies (#558 & #556)

dos lid idelsohn 558dos lid idelsohn 556

“Der freylekher kaptsn” Performed by Jacob Gorelik

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Der freylekher kaptsn (The Happy Poor Man) is an upbeat song I recorded from Jacob Gorelik in 1985 in New York City. The song follows the alef-beys for 23 verses. Der freylekher kaptsn is also known as Der freylekher khosid and Hop-tshik-tshak, which is a dance or dance step.

GorelikSingsBX

Jacob Gorelik sings at the Sholem-Aleichem Center with
Dr. Joshua Fishman sitting next to him (Bronx, 1980s)

As he says in his spoken introduction, Jacob Gorelik sent this song to the Israeli folklore journal Yeda-Am and it was printed in 1967 (Vol. 12 no 31-32) with the music. Attached are scans of those pages which include the Yiddish verses, a Hebrew translation and a brief commentary (in Hebrew) by the editor on the song at the end which includes references to other versions of the song found in other song collections. When he sang this for me Gorelik was reading the lyrics from the journal.

Gorelik also pointed out the similarity in melody to Khanele lernt loshn-koydesh (words by A. Almi), a song that was later recorded by Chava Alberstein and the Klezmatics among others.

The verse that corresponds to the letter ע begins with the word “helft” – because, as Gorelik explained, in the Ukrainian Yiddish dialect the “h” sound at the beginning of the word is often silent.

A humorous parody of the song about kibbutz life was collected and published by Menashe Gefen in issue 3-4, 1972, of the Israeli periodical מאסף, Measaf. Two scans of that are attached as are two scans of the version collected by I. L. Cahan and included in his 1912 publication Yidishe folkslider mit melodyen.

Thanks this week for help with the blog go to Paula Teitelbaum, Psoy Korolenko and Facebook friends

 

Gorelik speaks:

Lekoved mayn tayern gast, Itzikn, vel ikh zingen a folklid, an alte, alte folklid – “Der freylekher kaptsn”.  Un es geyt in gantsn loytn alef-beys. Du veyst kaptsonim zenen ale mol freylekhe. Gehert hob ikh dos mit etlekhe tsendlik yor tsurik fun mayn froys a shvoger: Hershl Landsman. In Amerike hot gebitn – in Amerike tut men ale mol baytn – gebitn dem nomen af London. Far zikh, far di kinder, zey zoln kenen vern doktoyrim.

Un er hot es gehert baym onfang fun tsvantsikstn yorhundert. Hershl iz shoyn nito; lomir im take dermonen. Landsman is shoyn nito. Zayn froy iz nito shoyn. Mayn eygene tayere froy iz shoyn nito.

Der freylekher kaptsn.  Es geyt loytn alef-beys. Gedrukt iz dos in Yeda-Am. Flegt aroysgeyn in Yisrol a vikhtiker zhurnal, a folklor-zhurnal. Unter der redaktsye fun Yom-Tov Levinsky, 1967 iz der zhurnal aroys, der numer.

 

א
Ikh bin mir a khosidl, a freylekhe briye.
Bin ikh mir a khosidl, on a shum pniye.
Bin ikh mir a khosidl, a khosidak.
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ב
Borves gey ikh mit hoyle pyates.
Fun oyvn biz arop mit gole lates;
Bin ikh mir a lustiker a freylekher bosyak
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ג
Gole lekher iz mayn kapote
fun oybn viz arop mit shvartser blote;
Tu ikh mir on fun eybn dem yarmak.
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak!

 ד
Der dales iz bay mir afn pritsishn oyfn.
Der kop tut vey fun dem arumloyfn;
kh’loyf un loyf azoy vi a durak.
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ה
Hering mit broyt iz bay mir a maykhl,
abi ikh shtop zikh on dem baykh.
un kartofles far a pitak.
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ו
Ver s’geyt in mayn veg,
der vet hobn gute teg;
in a bisl bronfn gefin ikh nit keyn brak;
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ז
Zingen, zing ikh af mayn gorgl
un shpiln, shpil ikh af mayn orgl.
Bin ikh mir a khosidl, a spivak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ח
Khotsh ikh bin mir horbevate
un dertsu nokh stulovate;
A bisl bronfn nem ikh mir geshmak
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ט
Toybenyu, mayn vayb zogt tsu mir:
nito af shabes, vey tsu dir;
leydik iz mayn keshene, nito keyn pitak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

י
Yontif iz bay mir di beste tsayt,
tsu antloyfn fun der klipe – vayt;
un makh ikh dort a koyse mit dem knak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

כּ
Koshere kinderlekh, a ful getselt,
hungerike tsingelekh aroysgeshtelt.
Esn viln zey gants geshmak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ל
Loyfn, loyf ikh af di piates,
vayl shikh zaynen gole lates.
Ikh loyf un loyf vi a bosyak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

מ
Mirenyu, mayn tokhter, zi zogt tsu mir:
ven met kumen di nekhome af mir?
Gib mir a khosn mit a kurtsn pidzak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

נ
Nekhome, mayne, zog ikh tsu ir:
Du vest nokh heysn mitn nomen – shnir.
Dayn shviger vet zayn a groyser shlak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ס
S’hoybt nor on tog tsu vern,
heybn zikh on di kinderlekh iberklern;
un kalt iz zey gants geshmak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ע
Elft mir kinder zmires zingen,
vet ir zayn bay mir voyle yingen;
shenken vel ikh aykh a pitak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

פּ
Peysekh kumt, bin ikh mir freylekh,
mayn vayb a malke un ikh a meylekh.
Matsos hobn mir a fuln zak;
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

צ
Tsadikim, rebeyim, veysn aleyn,
az s’iz nit gut tsu zayn gemeyn;
tsores faran in a fuler zak,
tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ק
Kinder mayne, hob ikh gezogt:
haynt iz simkhes-toyre, nit gezorgt;
A koyse veln mir makhn gants geshmak;
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ר
Royzenyu, mayn tokhter, zogt tsu mir:
kh’hob a man, iz er gerotn in dir:
er git mir nit af shabes afile keyn pitak;
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

ש
Shoyn Purim iz do, a yontif bay mir,
Ikh trog shalekh-mones fun tir tsu tir.
Khap ikh a trunk bronfn gants geshmak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

תּ
Tomid freylekh, nit gezorgt,
Nor layen, nor geborgt.
un in keshene iz nito keyn pitak,
Tants ikh mir a freylekhn hop-tshik-tshak! 

In honor of my dear guest, Itzik, I will sing the folksong, an old, old folksong “The Happy Poor man”. It goes according to the alphabet. You know poor people are always happy. I heard this a few decades ago from my brother-in-law Hershl Landsman. In American he changed – In America one is always changing – In America he changed his name to London; for his sake, for his children, so that they can become doctors.

And he heard it at the beginning of the 20th century. Hershl is no longer here; his wife is no longer here. My dear wife is no longer here.

“The Happy Poor Man”. It goes according to the alphabet. It was published in Yeda-Am, that used to be published in Israel: a folklore journal, an important journal, edited by Yom-Tov Lewinsky. In 1967 this issue was published.

א
I am a khosid, a happy creature.
I am a khosid, with no bias.
I am a khosid, a khosidak [humorous form of khosid]
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ב
I go around barefoot with bare soles.
Up and down I’m full of patches.
I’m happy-go-lucky, cheerful and barefoot
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ג
My kaftan is full of holes
from top to bottom full of mud.
So I put on my overcoat
and I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak.

ד
I treat poverty as if it were nobility,
my head hurts from all my running around.
I run and run as an fool,
so I dance a joyous hip-tshik-tshak.

ה
Herring with bread is a real treat
as long as I can stuff up my tummy,
with potatoes for a penny.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ו
Whoever goes in my path
will enjoy good days.
In a little whiskey I find nothing to waste;
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ז
I sing with my throat
and play on my organ.
So I am a khosid, a singer.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ח
Though I am a hunchback
and I slouch a little too,
I take a nice swig of whiskey.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ט
Toybeynyu, my wife says to me:
We have nothing for sabbath, woe is me.
Empty is my pocket with no penny.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak.

י
Holidays are the best time for me,
to escape far from my shrewish wife.
And I drink a shot with real snap.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

כּ
Observant children – I have a tent full;
their hungry tongues sticking out.
They really want to eat a lot.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ל
I run on my soles
because my shoes are all patched up.
I run and run like a barefoot man,
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

מ
Mirenyu, my daughter, says to me:
when will I get some relief?
Give me a groom with a short jacket.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

נ
“My solace”,  I say to her:
“You will yet one day be called ‘daughter-in-law’.
Your mother-in-law will be big nuisance.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ס
As soon as the day breaks,
my children start to consider their state:
and they are so very cold.
So I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ע
If you help me children to sing zmires
you will be good kids.
I will give as a tip, a coin.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

פּ
When Passover comes I am happy:
my wife is a queen and I a king.
We have a full sack of matzoh
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

צ
Holy rabbis, Rebbes, know already
that it’s not good to be vulgar.
We have a sack full of troubles.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ק
My children, I said,
today is Simkhes-Torah, don’t worry.
We will all down a good drink,
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ר
Rose, my daughter, says to me.
I have a husband just like you.
He doesn’t give me a penny for the Sabbath
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ש
Purim is already here, a real holiday for me,
I carry shalekh-mones from door to door.
I take a quick swig of whiskey, really fine.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

ת
Always joyous, never worried,
Always borrowing, always mooching,
And in my pocket not a penny.
And I dance a joyous hop-tshik-tshak!

Yeda-Am, 1967 (Vol. 12 no 31-32):

hoptshikyedaam1hoptshikyedaam2hoptshikyedaam3

hoptshikyeedaam4

Measaf, 3-4, 1972:

kibbutz1

Kibbutz2

I. L. Cahan, 1912:

Cahan1Cahan2 copy

Arye-Leibush Laish’s Backwards March Nigun

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2014 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week for the first time we present a nigun with no words instead of a Yiddish song. The nigun and the custom connected to it was learned from the singer and writer Arye-Leibush Laish (אריה ליש, also spelled “Arie Leibisch Laisch”) and became the basis for the annual backwards march tradition at Klezkanada on the eve of the sabbath.

LaishArye-Leibush Laish

Laish’s original field recording 1998, Bnei Brak, Israel:

Klezkanada Backwards March 2011 (one of many clips on YouTube):

Laish was born in 1929 in Stanisesti, in the Bacau district of Romania, and attended kheyder and talmud toyre. During the Second World War he worked in hard labor camp for the Germans. After the war he acted in the Romanian Yiddish theater before immigrating to Israel in 1963. He has written several autobiographical works in Hebrew as well as plays and scenes in Yiddish. He recorded an album of the songs of Zelig Barditchver (“Freyen zikh iz gut”), and has been featured in documentaries on Yiddish culture, including one on Itzik Manger directed by Radu Gabrea “Itzik Manger” 2005). He lives in Bnei-Brak, Israel.

I recorded Arye Laish singing Yiddish songs in his apartment in Bnai-Brak in 1998 and he told me about a rare custom from Stanisesti,

The Jews of the shtetl would gather at the river where the Friday night sun was setting and the Sabbath would arrive. Walking backwards so as not to dishonor the Sabbath, the entire community accompanied by two or three local Jewish musicians sang and played this nigun until they reached the shul where they left the instruments, and began the Sabbath prayers.

In 2001 the theater director, writer and performer Jenny Romaine led a theater workshop that summer at Klezkanada on the theme – “How do Jews Walk?”, and upon hearing about this custom and nigun she introduced them into the Klezkanada program preceding dinner Friday night. Frank London transcribed the music and taught the nigun (parts A and B) to the music classes, asking them to prepare the melody. Here is Jenny Romaine discussing the Backwards March recorded by the Yiddish Book Center:

Since then, Arye Laish’s Staniseti nigun and backwards march have been integrated into the Klezkanada program by the entire community.

The spoken parts of Laish in the original recording are:

Un dos khazert zikh iber di gants tsayt. Farshteyt zikh mit variatsyes.” [And this repeats the whole time. Of course with variations.}

Me kert zikh um tsu bidibidmmm…” [Then you return to the bidibum, bidibum, bidimbum…]

A mol hert men stam ge__(?)hay! hay! hay! hay!” [Every now and then you could hear – hay! hay! hay!]

laish yiddish

“Lekoved yontef, lekoved Shabes” Performed by Zinaida Lyovina and Dasya Khrapunskaya

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Dmitri Slepovitch

Nina Stepanskaya (1954–2007) and I recorded Lekoved yontef, lekoved Shabes (“שבת לכבֿד , טאָב-יום לכבֿוד “, In Honor of the Holiday, In Honor of Shabes) in Pinsk in June, 2005 from two sisters, Zinaida Lyovina (b.1928) and Dasya Khrapunskaya (b. 1931), both born in Turov, Zhytkavichy region (rayon), Gomel oblast, 169 km east of Pinsk. Lekoved yontef, lekoved Shabes is a variant of Gabe, vos vil der rebbe, which has been featured previously in the Yiddish Song of the Week.

The father of the sisters (they were four siblings) became their first source for learning the Yiddish songs. Not to a lesser extent he became a source of their inspiration as they created their own songs, translated several Russian songs into Yiddish and composed new verses for popular Yiddish songs. Zinaida and Dasya told us that the father would never take them with him to the synagogue, but he sang at home, infusing the Passover seder and other home ceremonies with the delicious taste of rare and beautiful Jewish songs.

One of their father’s songs is Lekoved yontef, lekoved Shabes (In Honor of the Holiday, In Honor of Shabes). It is a quite typical dialog song between a rebbe (Hasidic sect leader) and a gabe (gabbai, synagogue assistant) known in several melodic versions (e.g., the one in the Hazamir choir repertoire published in Copenhagen in 1937).

The rhythmical structure of this song brings together a free time recitative in the verse and the clear 6/8 time in the refrain. The given type is inherent to a vast corpus of Yiddish songs, primarily those representing either a dialog (as in this case) or a monologue in first person.

A remarkable feature of this performance (not only of this song, but also of many others that we heard from the two sisters) is that Dasya and Zinaida tend to sing in harmony, most typically in third, sometimes meeting in unison. The reason for that rather non-typical manner of Ashkenazi Jewish vocal performance lies – not surprisingly – in the Belarusian cultural milieu. The two sisters, as some of our other interviewees in Belarus, explained to us that they “felt like singing in harmony because it was customary among their Belarusian friends and they often used to sing with them (before the WWII) in such way.”

Singing in harmony is one of a few amazing regional markers in Yiddish music performance known from both recent recordings and Beregovsky’s and Maggid’s collections, that all give a clear perspective on a given regional style and, in a wider sense, represent a regional soundscape as adapted by and mirrored in a local Jewish tradition.

The following video of Zinaida Lyovina’s and Dasya Khrapunskaya’s remarkable performance of “Lekoved yontef, lekoved Shabes” is featured in Dmitri Slepovitch’s new program, “Traveling the Yiddishland,” produced for the Folksbiene National Yiddish Theater. The show integrates video taken from Slepovitch’s and Nina Stepanskaya’s field research in Belarus with live performances of the music arranged by Slepovitch for his ensemble.


Gabe! ­– Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil ­­– me zol im derlangen.
Vos? – Latkes mit shmalts,
Az der rebe mit der rebetsn
Zol zayn a gezunt in haldz.
 
Gabbay! – What does the rebbe wish?
When the rebbe wishes, he should be offered something.
What? – Latkes with goose fat,
So that the rebbe and his wife
Should have healthy throats.
 
Chorus:

Lekoved yontef,
Bim-bam-bam-bam
Lekoved Shabes,
Bim-bam-bam-bam
Lekoved yontef,
Bim-bam-bam-bam,
Lekoved Shabes, bim-bam.
 

In honor of the holiday,
Bim-bam-bam-bam
In honor of Sabbath,
Bim-bam-bam-bam.
In honor of the holiday,
Bim-bam-bam-bam
In honor of Sabbath, bim-bam.

Gabe! ­– Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil ­­– me zol im derlangen.
Vos? – A telerl mit yoykh,
Az der rebe mit der rebetsn
Zol zayn a gezunt in boykh.
 

Gabbay! ­– What does the rebbe wish?
When the rebbe wishes, he should be offered something.
What? ­– A plateful of chicken soup,
So that the rebbe and his wife
Should have healthy stomachs.
 
Chorus
 
Gabe! ­– Vos vil der rebe?
Der rebe vil ­­– me zol im derlangen.
Vos? – A telerl mit fish,
Az der rebe mit der rebetsn
Zol zayn a gezunt in di fis.
 

Gabbay! ­– What does the rebbe wish?
When the rebbe wishes, he should be offered something.
What? ­– A plateful of fish,
So that the rebbe and his wife
Should have healthy feet.

 Chorus

“Brider, Zog” by Sholem Berenshteyn

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Brider, zog (Brother, Say) is by the 19th century Yiddish poet Sholem Berenshteyn. No one seems to be sure of his life dates (and not even his first name – some say Shmuel) but he lived in Kamenetz-Podolsk, Ukraine, and died before 1880. In 1869 he published his collection Magazin fun yidishe lider far dem yidishn folk in Zhitomir, which was reprinted several times.

The best source for his biography is Zalmen Reisin‘s Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, volume 1. Reisin considers him one of the first Yiddish folkpoets and even the poet Mikhl Gordon („Maskhe‟, „Di bord‟) considered him a better poet than himself. As Reisin points out, his work sometimes touches upon typical maskilic themes (anti-Hasidic, Russian patriotism) but he mostly stays clear of them, and his most popular poems became songs with traditional themes such as Brider zog and Sholem-Aleykhem which the Bessarabian folksinger Arkady Gendler sings on his recording, released in 2001, Mayn shtetele Soroke, produced by Jeanette Lewicki.

The most extensive discusssion of the song Brider, zog is in Joseph and Chana Mlotek‘s book Perl fun der yidisher poezye which was recently translated into English by Barnett Zumoff as Pearls of Yiddish Poetry, Ktav Publishing. The song was originally titled Zmires has 15 verses; what was sung were the first four verses.

I have attached the Yiddish words and music in the version found in Z. Kisselhof‘s Lider zamlung far der yidisher shul un familye, St. Petersburg 1911 which is very close to the version sung here.

The unidentified singer is clearly more of a „pro‟ than we are used to hearing in the songs posted on this blog. But listening to her interpretation of khasidic song does raise interesting questions about the “art song” interpretation of khasidic style. The late, great Masha Benya, among others, comes to mind in this regard. This singer turns a song, which melodically could be quite boring, into an interesting performance.

I know this song from my mother, Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, who learned it from her mother, Lifshe Schaecther Widman, and the words as they are sung here are almost exactly the same (we sing „Ver vet lakhn, un khoyzek makhn…‟).

Thanks again to Lorin Sklamberg, sound archivist at YIVO, who allowed us to post another song from the YIVO Stonehill collection.

A folkslid…khsidish.
A folksong, khasidic.

Brider zog, vi heyst der tog,
ven mir ale zenen freylekh?
Der yidele, der kleyner, der kusherer, der sheyner
Iz dokh dan a meylekh.

Tell me brother what is the day called
when we are all joyous?
The Jew, the little one, the kosher one, the beautiful,
Then feels himself like a king.

Shabes aleyn, kimt tsu geyn,
Freyt aykh kinder ale!
Oy tantst kinder, yederere bazinder,
Lekoved der heyliker kale.

The Sabbath itself arrives,
Be happy all you children!
O, dance children, each on his own,
in honor of the holy bride.

Dos iz klor, vi a hor
az shabes is di kale.
Der khusndl der sheyner, iz nit keyner.
Nor mir yidelekh ale.

This is obvious as a hair,
that Sabbath is the bride.
The beautiful groom is no one else
but all of us Jews.

Un ver es lakht, un khoyzek makht.
Fun der kale-khusn.
Der vet take esn a make
fun der side-levyusn.

And he who laughs, and mocks
the groom and bride.
He will indeed eat nothing
at the Leviathan-feast.

o, brider zog….

“Got fun Avrom” Performed by Bella Bryks-Klein

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

Got fun Avrom is a woman’s prayer/song which is read as the Sabbath concludes Saturday night. It is attributed to the Hasidic rebbe
Levi-Yitskhok Barditshever (1740-1810), who also, according to tradition, wrote several Yiddish songs.

There was a debate among Yiddish folklorists whether this prayer constituted a folksong. Noyekh Prilutski maintained it did and published 23 versions in his first volume of collected Yiddish folksongs – “Religious and Holiday Songs” Warsaw 1911. S. An-sky did not agree (I have written about the various points of view: see pp. 41-42 in Defining the Yiddish Nation, Gottesman, 2003 and in Yiddish, “Tsi iz Got fun Avrom a folkslid?”  in the Forverts newspaper, Feb. 12-18, 2010, p. 4). Prilutski was correct, “Got fun Avrom” is a folksong with a text and melody that passes from generation to generation, forming variants in various locations.

On the Ari Davidow’s listserve “World Music from a Jewish Slant” I had once written that based on Prilutski’s work on Got fun Avrom, we can conclude that the popular folksong, “Shnirele Perele” made famous by the Klezmatics, evolved from versions of Got fun Avrom. As you can see, Bella Bryks-Klein’s version provides furthur evidence for this connection.

I recorded Bella Bryks-Klein in my office at the Yiddish Forward in April, 2010 in New York City. She is the representative in Israel of our newspaper and is also active in a number of other Yiddish activities there. Her father, the Yiddish writer Rachmil Bryks, was known for his powerful works on the Holocaust, especially on the Lodz ghetto. He included a version of Got fun Avrom in “Der keyser in geto” NY, 1961 [The Emperor in the Ghetto] on page 234 which is clearly based on the one here. A scan of that page is included in this commentary.

Since Bryks-Klein learned her version from her Transylvanian mother, who learned it from her mother, we can assume that Rachmil Bryks based his text on his wife’s, not a local Lodzer variant. I hope to include other versions of Got fun Avrom in future blog-postings. I have a much simpler version done from a cousin; and an interesting longer version-recording of a older Lubavitch woman who grew up, however, in a Satmar family. These prayers/songs were said/sung so fast sometimes, that if you asked the person what a certain line is, they cannot always tell you!

As part of the “Yiddish Atlas Project” conducted at Columbia University, I believe that several versions were also recorded and could perhaps be posted here once that material is made available. Today in any Hasidic bookstore you can purchase the “classic” text of Got fun Avrom (often laminated), but it is much simpler than the one discussed this week.

Mayn numen iz Bella Bryks-Klein, ikh bin di tokhter fun a yidishn shrayber Yerakhmil Bryks, un mayn mame, Hinde Eta Volf, fun der heym, Irene Bryks, hot yeder moytse-shabes mit undz gezingen “Got fin avrum” vi zi hot mit ir mame dus gezingen in Transylvania. Ikh gedenk zi hot a vays tikhl af ir kop, dos heyst, tsigedekt, un mayn shvester un mikh tsigetsoygn tsi ir, un azoy tsugetulyet, shtayendik, in tinkl nokh, hot men gezingen azoy:

My name is Bella Bryks-Klein, I am the daughter of a Yiddish writer, Yerakhmil Bryks, and my mother Hinde Eta Volf, (her maiden name), Irene Bryks sang with us every Saturday night at the end of Shabes “God of Abraham”, as she had sung with her mother in Transylvania. I remember her with her white shawl on her head, covered, and she drew close to her my sister and me and standing, still in darkness, she sang it like this:

Got fun Avrom fun Yitskhok un Yankev,
bahit un bashirem dayn lib folk yisrol
vegn daynem loyb.

God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
Protect and shield us, your dear people of Israel
Who praise you.

Az der liber shabes koydesh geyt avek,
az di zise libe vokh zol undz kimen:
tsu gezint, tsu leybn, tsu shulem,
tsi parnuse, tsu gite bsires toyves.

Now that the dear holy Sabbath is leaving,
may the sweet, dear week now come to us
and bring us good health, life, peace
livlihood, good news.

Umeyn Veumeyn! S’zol vern vur
Meylekh hamoshiekh ben duvid zol kimen dus yur.
Kimen zol er tsufurn,
in zayne sheyne yurn.
Kimen zol er tsi raytn
in zayne sheyne tsaytn.

Amen and amen! May it come true
Messiah the King son of David should come this year.
May he come traveling,
and bring with him beautiful years.
May he come riding,
and bring wonderful times.

Eliyahu hanuvi kimt in der hoz arayn,
brengt er aldus gits arayn,
Eliyahu hanuvi geyt fin undzer hoz aros,
trugt er aldus beyzs aros,
Eliyahu hanuvi kimt in undzer hoz aran,
nemt a bekher in der rekhter hant,
Makht a brukhe ibern gantsn land.

Elijah the prophet comes into our house,
and brings all good things inside.
Elijah the prophet leaves our house,
and takes all the bad things out.
Elijah the prophet comes into our house,
and takes a goblet in his right hand,
and makes a blessing over the entire land.

Di brukhe zol hoykh zan,
zol iber undz ale zan.
Tir un toyer shteyt dokh ofn
tsu dir futer, al rakhmim shaday,
in zibetn himl tien mir ale hofn.

The blessing should be loud,
and be over all of us,
Door and Gate are thus open
for you father, god of mercy,
into the seventh heaven we all hope for this.

A gite vokh! a gezinte vokh!
A gebentshte vokh! A zise vokh!
A sheyne vokh!

A good week! A healthy week!
A blessed week! A sweet week!
A wonderful week!