Archive for silk

“Oy vey rebenyu” Performed by Josh Waletzky

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2014 by yiddishsong

Oy vey rebenyu
Performance by Josh Waletzky
Video-recorded at Center for Traditional Music and Dance’s office, New York City, by Peter Rushefsky, Ethel Raim and Benjy Fox-Rosen, January 28th, 2012.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

New York Yiddish singer Josh Waletzky learned this maskilic/anti-Hasidic song from from his grandfather Morris (Moyshe) Waletzky. Oy vey rebenyu has been recorded in a similar version by Jan Bart, with another version by Cantor Isaac Goodfriend.

The Soviet folklorist Z. Skuditski pointed out the similarity to the Mikhl Gordon song Mayn Tshuve (see note in Folklor-lider, volume 2) and it has been considered a Mikhl Gordon song ever since (I could not obtain the original Gordon version). However this anti-Hasidic song was later adapted and interpreted in some circles as a song to praise the rebbe, not mock him.

Interpretations praising the rebbe:

The Yiddish poet Yermye Hescheles (1910 – 2010), from Glina, Galicia, Poland,  told me that on the holiday of Lag B’omer, when the melamed (teacher in the kheyder) walked with them into the woods, he taught the children this song in praise of the rebbe. (I would imagine that the verse with the cook Trayne was cut).

Di Naye Kapelye in Budapest recorded the song – only the refrain – in a slow, spiritual interpretation, on their album –  “A mazeldiker yid” released on the Oriente Musik label.

According to band leader Bob Cohen, the source is a tape recording made in Maramures in 1970 by Romanian-Jewish ethnomusicologust Ghizella Suliteanu of a Roma band from Borsa led by Gheorghe Stingaci Covaci.


Oy vey rebenyu, ikh shuteye un tsiter
un in hartsn brent a fayer.
un in hartsn brent a fayer.
Yakh vil zayn a khosidl a guter,
a khosidl a getrayer.
Yakh vil zayn a khosidl a guter,
a khosidl a getrayer.

O rebbe I stand and shiver
In my heart burns  fire.
I want to be a good khosid,
a faithful khosid.

Bay dem davenen vel ikh zikh shoklen,
makhn alerley hevayes.
Far dem rebn mit zayne khasidim
geyt mir oys dos Hayes.

When I pray I will rock,and make all kinds of gestures.
For the rebbe and his khasidim,
my strength gives out.

Vinter in di greste keltn.
Far dem rebn mit zayne Chasidim
gey ikh aynleygn veltn.

Winter in the greatest cold.
For the rebbe and his khasidim
I will tear down entire worlds.


In Folklor-lider, vol. 2 the verses are:

A kalte mikve vel ikh zikh makhn
vinter in di greste keltn.
Far dem rebenyu, far zayne khsidimlekh
vel ikh kereven veltn.

A cold mikve I will prepare
winter in the greatest cold.
For the rebbe, for his hasidim
I will turn over worlds.

A vareme shal vel ikh zikh koyfn
zumer in di greste hitsn.
A zaydenem gartl vel ikh mir koyfn,
a hitl mit zibetsn shpitsn.

A warm shawl will I buy
summer in the greatest heat.
A silk belt will I buy, 
a hat with 17 corners.

Dem rebn vel ikh leygn in fodershtn alker
tsuzamen mit der kekhne Trayne.
Un ale kshidemlekh veln hobn tsum rebn
gor a groyse tayne.

I will put the rebbe in the front den
with the cook Trayne.
And all the Hasidim will complain
to the rebbe. 




“Vus tisti du sheyn meydele?” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The ballad “Vus tisti du sheyn meydele?” (“What are You Doing Here Pretty Girl?”) performed in this field recording of Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (my mother) is another Yiddish variant of the international ballad known generically as “Impossible Tasks.” See the previous Yiddish Song of the Week posting for another Impossible Tasks ballad sung by Josh Waletzky.

Schaechter-Gottesman learned this version in Chernovitz before the second World War from her friend Moyshe (Moshe) Barasch (1920 – 2004), who came from a Bessarabian family. Moshe Barasch later became an internationally known art critic and historian in Israel.

The melody is similar to the song “Hey, di, di / Rik zikh tsi, rik zikh tsi mir /Az du vilst a libe shpiln,/ shpil zhe es mit mir” (still looking for a printed version…).

I recorded my mother singing “Vu tisti du sheyn meydele?” at home in the Bronx in March 2011.

Vus tisti du sheyn meydele?
Vus tisti du baym brinem?
Gey, shoyn gey, un gey shoyn gey,
Fun vanen bist gekimen.

“What are you doing pretty girl?
What are you doing at the well?”
“Go, already, go,
Wherever you came from.”

“Fun vanen kh’bin gekimen,
zolsti mir nisht traybn.
Khap zhe mir a ber fun vald
un lern im oys shraybn.”

“Where I came from,
do not drive me there.
Better catch a bear from the woods
and teach him how to write.”

“A ber fun vald vel ikh dir khapn,
un im oyslernen shraybn.
Makh zhe mir zibn kinder,
a meydl zolsti blaybn.”

“I will catch a bear from the woods,
and teach him how to write.
“Then you should have seven children,
yet a maiden remain.”

“Zibn kinder vel ikh dir makhn
a meydl vel ikh blaybn.
Makh zhe mir zibn vign,
un tsvekes in un laystn.”

“I will have seven children,
and I will remain a maiden”
You should then make me seven cradles,
without nails,  with no wood strips.”

“Zibn vign vel ikh dir makhn,
un tsvekes in un laystn.
Makh zhe mir zibn hemder
un nodl in un zadn.”

“Seven cradles, I will make for you
with no nails, no wood strips.
Make for me seven shirts
without needle, without silk.”

“Zibn hemder vel ikh dir makhn
un nodl in un zadn.
Makh zhe mir aza min leyter
er zol kenen in himl shtaygn.”

“Seven shirts I will make for you
without needle, without silk.
Make for me a ladder
that can reach into the sky.”

“Aza min leyter vel ikh dir makhn
er zol kenen in himl shtaygn.
Ikh a nar in di a tsveyter,
lomir beser shvaygn.”

“Such a ladder I will make for you
that will reach up into the sky.
I, a fool, and you – another one,
So let us both be silent.”