Archive for sky

“Kinderland, du tsoyberland” Performed by Gerry Tenney

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2021 by yiddishsong

Kinderland, du tsoyberland / Kinderland, You Magical Land 
A Yiddish summer camp hymn 
Music: Albert Bitter, Words: M.A. Suhl (Yuri Suhl, 1908 – 1986) 
Sung & Recorded by Gerry Tenney, May 2021  

Gerry Tenney

(Spoken)  
Eyns, tsvey, dray, fir                       One, two, three, four 

Kinderland, du tsoyberland.   Kinderland, you magical land 
Unter himlen fraye.                        Under the open skies 
Mir kumen zikh do opruen,          We come here to rest,            
Shtarkn un banayen.                    To be strengthened and renewed. 
Oy, kinder, kinder, kinderland.      Oy, children, children, children –land 
Far kinder a gan-eydn                  For children it’s a paradise.  
Mir shpiln zikh, mir lernen zikh.  We play, we learn 
Mir lebn do in freydn.                   We live here peacefully 
Oy, kinder, kinder, kinderland       Oy, children, children, children-land 
Far kinder a gan-eydn                  For children, it’s a paradise.  
Mir shpil zikh, mir lernen zikh.    We play, we learn. 
Mir lebn do in freydn.                   We live here peacefully 

There is second verse to this song, which according to Tenney was rarely sung.  

Mit zun un feld un fraye nakht.      With sun and field and free nights 
Du bist undz azoy tayer                  You are so dear to us.  
Freylekh munter zingt dos lid         Happy, boldy sing this song, 
An arbets lid a nayer                       a labor song, a new one.           

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Camp Kinderland is a summer camp, today in Tolland, Massachusets. It was founded in 1923 in New York by leftist unions. Several generations of Jewish children from NY and surrounding regions were raised there with a love for Yiddish song and culture. Kinderland has evolved since then and here is the current link to the camp.

A link to the songbook of Kinderland, 1954, which includes the Yiddish and English transcription of this and many other songs can be found here. We hope to present more recordings from this songbook.   

Gerry Tenney is a leading figure in the Yiddish cultural world in the Bay area. He writes about himself: 

I was born in a Yinglish speaking family in the Bronx. Yiddish  was all around me as we lived in the same building as my bubi and zeydi. Although I was not raised in linke krayzn [leftist circles], I found my way there in the late fifties and early sixties. I graduated from the Hekherer Kursn [high school level] and taught in the elementar shuln in Queens. From 1963 -1968 I was a counsellor and group leader at Camp Kinderland. I have  remained active in camp activities and went back there to teach music many times. My son Noah also attended camp. In California I was the co-founder of East Bay Kindershul, leader of California Klezmer, and the President of KlezCalifornia. I am currently working on the Beregovski translation project.

We would add to this short bio, that Tenney together with Betty Albert-Shreck produced a popular Yiddish recording for children “Let’s Sing a Yiddish Song/Lomir zingen a yidish lid.” 

This is one of three Camp Kinderland hymns according to Tenney, and though there is at least one recording with a second verse, Tenney remembers only singing one.  Bitter and Suhl also together composed the humorous children’s song “Poyzn ayvi” [ Poison Ivy] which can be heard on the recording “Let’s Sing a Yiddish Song” 

You can hear other Kinderland alumni sing the song at this link

We invite readers of the blog to send in recordings of songs from their Yiddish camps. There are many that have never been recorded and are unknown to the larger Yiddish world.  

“Kinder kumt der friling ruft” Performed by Harry Mervis

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2021 by yiddishsong

Kinder kumt der friling ruft / Children come, Spring calls
Sung by Harry Mervis, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg, Baltimore, 1979. From the Jewish Museum of Maryland collection.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman and Peter Rushefsky

Jewish Museum of Maryland

Kinder kumt as sung by Harry Mervis. 

Kinder kumt, der friling ruft
Blo der himl, klor di luft.
Shmekn zis di frishe blumen
un di taykhlekh freylekh brumen.
Leyft [loyft] in frayen feld.

Children come, Spring calls.
Blue the sky, clear the air.
Smell the fresh flowers
and the rivers gaily roar.

Hert, di feygelekh zingen,
flien heykh [hoykh] un klingen,
Helft zey, kinderlekh, shpringen.
Leyft in frayen feld. 

Listen to the birds sing,
flying high and resound.
Help them, children, to jump.
Run in the open field.

Kinder yetst iz ayer tsayt,
S’iz sheyn bald nor gor nit vayt.  
Er makht gel di grine bleter
Er makht di zise bleter,  
azoy on a sof.          

Children now is your time.
It is soon not far. 
He makes the green leaves yellow. 
He makes the sweet leaves.
Thus without end.   

Kinder aylt zikh unter,
Zayt zikh freylekh, munter.
Vayl der langer vinter
varft af alemen a shlof.

Children hurry yourselves.
Be happy and brave
because the long winter
throws on everyone a slumber.

COMMENTARY BY ITZIK GOTTESMAN

The lyrics to the song are by Mordkhe Rivesman (1868 – 1924), the same author of such songs as “Haynt is Purim Brider” and “Khanike Oy Khanike”.  the melody is almost always referred to as “a folk melody”. The first printing of the song that I have found is in Z. Kisselgof’s  collectin Lider-zamlbukh far der yidisher shul un familye, 1912There it is called “Kinder kumt der friling ruft”. It was also called “Likhik iz Gots velt”. Yiddish music archivist Robert Freedman remembers singing this song in his Chaim Nakhman Bialik Folk Shul and from memoirs it is clear that the song was also popular in Zionist circles in Eastern Europe. 

Recently singer, composer and choir director Polina Shepherd has revived the song. She newly arranged and recorded the song with her London Yiddish Choir and Chutzpah choir. Here is a link to that performance.

Shepherd also printed the music and original words at this link.

The song was translated into Hebrew by the Israeli Yiddish scholar Dov Sadan and can be found at this link in the website Zemereshet. זמרשת

The original lyrics by Rivesman in Yiddish has been scanned form  Z. Kisselgof’s Lider-zamelbukh, St. Petersburg 1912 and are attached below.

We know of one recording of the song on the album Ilamay Handel Sings Portraits of Jewish Live in Song.

COMMENTARY ON THE MUSIC BY PETE RUSHEFSKY

The song uses a variant of a Hasidic-flavored melody recorded by Belf’s Romanian Ensemble for the Syrena record label as “Nakhes fun Kinder”. The melody was also recorded as part of a suite by the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia-based Lepiyansky Family of tsimbl (dulcimer) players and released on the Soviet MusTrust label.

Let’s take a closer look at the Belf version, which presents this beautiful melody in its fully-rendered form. The instrumental version of the piece is best known for its syncopated melodic gesture beginning with a rest on the first beat (a rhythmic device seen in many Hasidic nigunim):

However, the song version from Rivesman simplifies the melody, substituting four quarter notes for the first measure.

Composed in the freygish/Ahava Raba scale, the first section sets up the mode by emphasizing the first and then third degrees, repeating the phrases to create a sense of gravity. The second section switches to a call-and-response form to expand the melodic range to the fourth and fifth degrees, and hints at what will come in the final section with a quick reach up to the octave. Finally the third section lifts the melody to its climax (known in Arabic music as the “awj”) with three beats on the octave, initiating a lovely four-part walk down the freygish scale that continues into the mode’s subtonic range before resolving back up to the tonic.

There is an interesting difference between the Mervis version and the better-known version that Shepherd’s choir performs. The second section of Mervis’s version of “Kinder kumt” (starting with “Hert, di feygelekh zingen”) is reminiscent of the second section of the Belf “Nakhes fun Kinder”. In contrast, the second section of Shepherd jumps immediately up the octave like the third section of Belf. Perhaps Mervis (or whomever he learned his version from) was aware of the full melody ala Belf, and chose to sing it this way. Or possibly the variant is a result of confusion between the two melodies.

As I was contributing to this post, the wonderful Yiddish singer Eleonore Weill happened to be over giving my son Gabriel his weekly piano lesson. She graciously agreed to record herself performing the song on my iPhone (recorded April 6, 2021 in Brooklyn):

Lyrics by Rivesman published in Z. Kisselgof’s Lider-zamelbukh, St. Petersburg 1912:

“Eyns ver veyst” A Passover Song Performed by Dr. Thelma Borodkin

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2021 by yiddishsong

Eyns ver veyst? / Who Knows One?
A Passover song sung by Dr. Thelma Borodkin. Recorded by Dr. Hankus Netsky, 2021

Dr. Thelma Borodkin

Eyns ver veyst?                                  Who knows one?
Eyns, eyns, ikh, ikh veys.                   One, one, I, I know.
Ikh, ikh veys                                        I, I know                                  
Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.          One is God himself, is God himself.
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.    The Lord of heaven and earth, 

Tsvey ver veyst?                                       Two who knows?
Tsvey, tsvey, ikh, ikh veys.                        Two, two I , I know
Ikh, ikh veys                                               I, I know
Tsvey likhes.                                             Two tablets
Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.   One is God himself, is God himself.
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.          The Lord of heaven and earth,

Dray ver veyst?                                          Three who knows?
Dray, dray, ikh, ikh veys.                            Three, three I , I, know.
Ikh, ikh veys.                                              I, I know
Dray futers.                                                Three fathers [patriarchs]
Tsvey likhes.                                               Two tablets
Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.   One is God himself, is God himself.
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.   The Lord of heaven and earth.

Fir ver veyst?                                               Four who knows?
fir, fir  ikh, ikh veys.                                       Four, four I, I know.
Ikh, ikh veys.                                                 I, I know
Fir muters.                                            Four mothers [matriarchs]
Dray futers…..                                                Three fathers….etc.

Finef ver veyst?                                            Five how knows?
Finef, finef  ikh, ikh veys.                               Five, five I, I know
Ikh ikh veys                                                     I, I know
Finef khamushim fin der Toyre          Five books of Moses in the Torah
Fir muters….                                                  Four mothers…etc.            

Zeks ver veyst?                                      Six who knows?
Zeks, zeks  ikh, ikh veys.                        Six, six I, I know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                          I, I know.
Zeks mishnayes.                                     Six “orders” of the Mishnah.
Finef khamushim in der Toyre….             Five books of Moses in the Torah…etc.

Zibn ver veyst?                               Seven who knows?
Zibn, zibn. ikh, ikh veys.                 Seven, seven I, I know
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                  I, I know
Zibn teyg in der vokh.                    Seven days in the week
Zeks mishnayes…                          Six orders of the Mishnah...

Akht ver veyst?                            Eight who knows?
Akht, akht,  ikh, ikh veys.             Eight, eight, I, I, know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                 I, I know.
Akht teyg tsi der mile.                    Eight days to the bris
Zibn teg in der vokh…                    Seven days in the week….etc.

Nayn ver veyst?                               Nine who knows?
Nayn, nayn  ikh, ikh veys.               Nine, nine, 
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                   I, I know
Nayn khadoshim in deym trugn.      Nine months of pregnancy
Akht teyg tsi der mile…                     Eight days to the bris…etc

Tsen ver veyst?                                  Ten who knows?
Tsen, tsen,  ikh, ikh veys.                  Ten, ten, I, I know
Ikh, ikh veys.                                       I , I know
Tsen dibres.                                       Ten commandments
Nayn khadushim….                          Nine months to the pregnancy….etc.

Elef ver veyst?                              Eleven who knows?
Elef, elef,  ikh, ikh veys.               Eleven, eleven, I, I know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                 I, I know
Elef shtern in deym himl.            Eleven stars in the sky
Tsen dibres…                               Ten commandments….etc.   

Tsvelef ver veyst?                           Twelve who knows?
Tsvelf, tsvelf, ikh ikh veys.             Twelve, twelve I, I know.
ikh ikh veys.                                     I, I know.
Tsvelef shvotim, Twelve tribes
Elef shtern in deym himl…            Eleven starts in the sky…etc.

Draystn ver veyst?                          Thirteen who knows?
Draytsn, draytsn, ikh, ikh veys.     Thirteen, thirteen I, I know.
 Ikh, ikh veys.                                   I, I know.
Draytsn mides hot der Got.          Thirteen attributes has God 
Tsvelef shvotim…                          Twelve tribes….etc.

………….

Eyns iz Got aleyn, iz Got aleyn.        One is God himself, God himself
Der har fun dem himl un fun der erd.  Master of heaven and earth
Der har funem himl un fun der erd.      Master of heaven and earth

Commentary by Hankus Netsky

Dr. Thelma Borodkin grew up on Hopkinson Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  Her parents came from Ukraine, her mother from Dnietopietrovsk and her father from Stara Constantine.  She remembers her mother singing constantly in Yiddish, Russian, Ukrainian and English while she worked, and her mother taught her a wide array of Yiddish Theatre songs that she heard at the nearby Hopkinson Theatre.  

Dr. Borodkin attended Jefferson High School and the local Hebrew Educational Society School.  She became fluent in Hebrew and made Aliyah twice.  She received her Ph.D in English and taught writing for twenty-three years at Lehman College.  Most recently (pre-pandemic), she taught a course on works by female Yiddish writers at Lester Senior Housing in New Jersey.  She remembers this wonderful and little-known Yiddish version of “Echod Mi Yodea” from her childhood family seders in Brooklyn, and her children and grandchildren keep the tradition going to the present day.

Thanks for this week’s post to Thelma Borodkin, Hankus Netsky and Arun Viswanath. 

?איינס ווער ווייסט
געזונגען פֿון  תּמר ד״ר באָראָדקין
רעקאָרדירט פֿון  ד״ר הענעך נעצקי, 2021

?איינס ווער ווייסט
איינס, איינס, איך, איך ווייס
איך, איך ווייס
.איינס איז גאָט אַליין, איז גאָט אַליין
.דער האַר פֿונעם הימל און פֿון דער ערד

?צוויי ווער ווייסט
.צוויי, צוויי, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
.צוויי לוחות
.איינס איז גאָט אַליין, איז גאָט אַליין
.דער האַר פֿונעם הימל און פֿון דער ערד

?דרײַ ווער ווייסט
.דרײַ, דרײַ, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
דרײַ פֿאָטערס
…צוויי לוחות

?פֿיר ווער ווייסט
.פֿיר, פֿיר איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,פֿיר מוטערס
…דרײַ פֿאָטערס

?פֿינעף ווער ווייסט
.פֿינעף, פֿינעף איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,פֿינעף חומשים אין דער תּורה
…פֿיר מוטערס

?זעקס ווער ווייסט
.זעקס, זעקס איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
זעקס משניות
…פֿינעף חומשים אין דער תּורה

?זיבן ווער ווייסט
.זיבן, זיבן איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
.זיבן טעג אין דער וואָך
…זעקס משניות

?אַכט ווער ווייסט
.אַכט, אַכט איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
אַכט טעג צו דער מילה
…זיבן טעג אין דער וואָך

?נײַן ווער ווייסט
.נײַן, נײַן איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
נײַן חדשים אין דעם טראָגן
…אַכט טעג צו דער מילה

?צען ווער ווייסט
.צען, צען איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
צען דיברות
…נײַן חדשים אין דעם טראָגן

?עלעף ווער ווייסט
.עלעף, עלעף, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,עלעף שטערן אינעם הימל
…צען דיברות

?צוועלעף ווער ווייסט
.צוועלעף, צוועלעף, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
,צוועלעף שבֿטים
…עלעף שטערן אינעם הימל

?דרײַצן ווער ווייס
.דרײַצן, דרײַצן, איך, איך ווייס
.איך, איך ווייס
דרײַצן מידות האָט דער גאָט
…צוועלעף שבֿטים

“Tort un vayn” Performed by Tillie Fishman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2020 by yiddishsong

Tort un vayn / Cake and wine
A Yiddish version of Joe Hill’s “Pie in the Sky” sung by Tillie Fishman, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg , Baltimore, 1979

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is a Yiddish version of Joe Hill’s song “Pie in the Sky” originally called “The Preacher and the Slave”. Here is Cisco Houston’s version of the Joe Hill song.

Joe_hill002

Joe Hill

Joe Hill (1879 – 1915) was a labor activist , songwriter and member of the IWW – Industrial Workers of the World. He was executed for the murder of a grocer and his son in Utah, despite international protests and appeals for clemency. His memory has been preserved in the song “Joe Hill” which was recorded by Paul Robeson, Joan Baez, among others. 

Hill’s song was itself a parody of the Christian hymn “Sweet Bye and Bye” written in 1868. Here is country singer, Loretta Lynn with her version of the original hymn.

This Yiddish version of Joe Hill’s “Pie in the Sky” appeared in the songbook Mit gezang tsum kamf, songs composed and arranged by Jacob Schaeffer, 1932. Fishman sings two verses, but the songbook has five.  It does not say who translated or adapted the songs. We are attaching the music, the Yiddish text from that book, and including below a transcription of the longer version found in Schaeffer’s book. In Schaeffer’s collection the song is called “Der prister un der nar” (“The Priest and the Fool”). 

This recording is found in the Gertrude Nitzberg Collection at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. 

Did you know that Ethel Raim, Yiddish singer and teacher, founder and artistic director emeritus of CTMD,  composed a melody to “Joe Hill’s Last Will”? You can find it in the magazine “Sing Out!”, volume 11, #3, p. 29.

Special thanks with help for this week’s post to Emily Socolov.

TRANSLITERATION (Tillie Fishman’s version)

“Prist” un “preacher” haltn droshes umetum.
Vus me zugt undz, heyst men indz zayn frum.
Es mont der galakh un es shtroft der rov.
Zol shoyn nemen tsi di tsores a sof. 

Refrain

Me redt undz ayn es vet zayn. Es vet zayn.
In gan-eydn frishe broyt un vayn. Broyt un vayn.
Un dervayl shteyt in “line”. Es vet zayn
in gan-eyden tort un vayn; tort un vayn!

Fun dem eltstn biz dem klenstn kind,
vus me zogt im, zogt men as s’iz zind.
Es shtruft der galakh un es munt der rov.
Zol shoyn nemen tsu di tsores a sof.

Refrain

Me redt undz ayn es vet zayn. Es vet zayn
In gan-eydn frishe broyt un vayn. Broyt un vayn.
Un dervayl shteyt in “line”. Es vet zayn
in gan-eyden tort un vayn; tort un vayn!

TRANSLATION

Priest and preacher give speeches everywhere.
They are always saying that we should be religious.
The priest demands, the rabbi punishes.
May an end to our troubles come soon. 

Refrain

They assure us that there will be,
in heaven fresh bread and wine. Bread and wine.
In the meantime get in line. There will be
in heaven cake and wine. Cake and wine. 

From the oldest to the smallest child,
They are told that everything is a sin.
The priest punishes and the rabbi demands.
May an end to our troubles come soon. 

Refrain

They assure us that there will be, there will be,
in heaven fresh bread and wine. Bread and wine.
In the meantime get in line. There will be
in heaven cake and wine. Cake and wine. 

TRANSLITERATION OF SCHAEFFER VERSION

Pristers haltn droshes umetum
In Gots nomen heyst men undz zayn frum.
Laydn mir hunger, laydn mir noyt.
Viln mir esn, monen mir broyt.

Refrain:

Redt men undz ayn es vet zayn 
in gan-eydn frishe broyt un vayn
un dervayl shteyt in “layn”,
Es vet zayn in gan-eydn tort un vayn.

Eyder mir derzen a por sent
rayst men es oys fun undzere hent.
Prist un pritsher, yeder shvindler nemt
biz men tut undz oys dos letste hemd.

REFRAIN: Redt men undz ayn… 

Shafn far raykhe un nit far zikh.
Shteyt men in “layn” far der tir bay der kikh.
Fresn di raykhe, s’platst zey der boykh.
Volt men darlangt khotsh a bisl undz oykh.

REFRAIN: Redt men undz ayn…

Fun dem grestn biz dem klentstn kind
vos mir tuen af der erd iz zind.
Shtroft der galakh un es mont der rov.
un beshas mir tsoln undzer shtrof.

REFRAIN: Redt men undz ayn…

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Joe Hill’s “Pie in the Sky” in the songbook Mit gezang tsum kamf, songs composed and arranged by Jacob Schaeffer, 1932

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“Di farfirte” Performed by Leo Summergrad

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2019 by yiddishsong

Di farfirte / The Woman Who was Led Astray
Words and (music?) by Morris Rosenfeld
Sung and recorded by Leo Summergrad

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This poem appears in the first volume of Morris Rosenfeld’s  (1862 – 1923)  poetry. Leo Summergrad learned it from his mother and I have only found one reference to the song: a query in Chana and Yosl Mlotek’s Forverts column “Leyner dermonen zikh lider”. But the two compilers had never heard of the song.

photo (1)Leo Summergrad’s mother, Minnie, and father, Abram Summergrad, on the right side. His in-laws Moishe and Esther Korduner are on the left.

Rosenfeld’s original poem is composed of three 14-line stanzas and we have printed it this way, though in Summerfeld’s handwritten transcription, which we attached, he has divided it into the more common 4 line stanzas. We are also attaching the printed version from Volume I of Rosenfeld’s collected works.

Though we are not sure who composed the music, we do know that Rosenfeld composed melodies to his poetry and sang them at readings.

Thanks to Leo Summergrad for contributing this recording.

1
Gedenkstu vi du host mir libe geshvorn,
gegrint hot der eplboym tsvishn di korn.
Der foygl hot ruik geblikt fun di tsvaygn
un ales arum iz gelegn in shvaygn.
O, ver hot es damolst gevust dayn kavone.
Geshtumt hobn himl un erd un levone.
Ven du host geshvorn far mir mit a fayer,
az eybik farblaybstu mayn eyntsik getrayer.
Du hot mikh farkisheft, du host mikh batrunken.
Ikh bin vi batoybt in dayn orems gezunken.
O, dan iz dayn umreyner vuntsh dir gelungen.
Du host in mayn heyliktum frekh ayngedrungen.
Mayn ere geroybt un mayn lebn tserisn.
Mikh biter baleydikt un endlikh farshmisn.

Do you remember, you swore your love for me.
The apple tree was greening among the rye.
The bird calmly watched us from the branches
and everything around us lay in silence.
O, who could then have known your intention.
Silent were heaven and earth and the moon,
when you swore to me with a fire,
that eternally you would remain my one true one.
You cast a spell on me; you intoxicated me.
I was as if deaf when i lay in your arms.
O, then you succeeded with your filthy desire;
into my sacred shrine you insolently penetrated.
You robbed me of my honor and tore my life apart.
Insulted me bitterly and finally whipped me.

2
Bin orm un elnt vos darfstu zikh shtern?
Fleg ikh bay dir shtendik zikh betn mit trern.
Un du bist dokh raykh un gebildet un eydl.
Gey zukh dir a shenere, raykhere meydl.
O, zol mir der fayer fun elnt farbrenen,
fleg ikh tsu dir zogn du darfst mikh nit kenen.
Farges on mayn sheynkeyt, ikh darf nit keyn gvires.
O loz mikh in armut, ikh zukh keyn ashires.
Gedenkstu di nakht ven mir zaynen gegangen
der mond iz vi zilber in himl gehangen.
Fun goldene shtern bakranst undzer svive
vos hobn geshmeykhlt vi kinder nayive.
Gedenkstu yene nakht? O, du darfst ir gedenken.
Ikh shenk es dir, Got zol in himl dir shenken.

I am poor and alone, why bother yourself.
I had always with tears pleaded with you.
Yet you are wealthy, educated and gentle.
Go find yourself a prettier, richer girl.
O, let the fire of loneliness burn me up,
I used to say to you, you should not know me.
Forget about my beauty; I need no valor.
Leave me poor, I do not search for riches.
Do you remember the night when we walked;
the moon was like silver hanging in the sky.
Golden stars crowned our surroundings
and smiled like naive children.
Do you remember that night? O, you should remember it.
I give it to you as a gift; God should give you it as a gift in heaven.

3
Ikh hob zikh bay dir mit rakhmones gebetn.
O, rays mikh nit oys vest mikh shpeter tsetretn.
O, loz mikh! ikh vel mir tsvishn di mashinen
an erlekhn man, a gelibtn gefinen.
A shapmeydl bin ikh, vos hob ikh tsu klaybn.
Bin orem geborn, vel orem farblaybn.
Dokh, du host mit zise un kuntsike verter
geshvorn az du nor muzst zayn mayn basherter.
Tsu sheyn bin ikh, hostu gezogt, tsu farvyanen
far mir iz a beseres lebn faranen.
Gedenkstu di nakht tsi iz lang shoyn fargangen
der vint hot koym vos geshoklt di zangen.
Arum di natur hot gekukt un geshvign
o, ver hot gerekhnt du zolst mikh batribn.

With compassion I pleaded with you.
O, don’t tear me out; stomp on me later.
O, leave me, so that among the machines
I will find an honest man, a lover.
I’m a shopgirl, what is my choice –
I am poor and will remain poor.
Still, with sweet and artful words
you swore that you must be my destined one.
Too beautiful am I, you said, to every wilt.
For me there is a better life awaiting.
Do you remember the night or is it far in the past?
The wind barely moved the stalks.
The nature around watched and was silent.
O who would have thought you would sadden me so.

4
Atsind zogstu vilstu mikh mer nit bagegenen
ikh hob derkegn, ikh kum zikh gezegenen.
Ikh veys az du gist zikh an anderer iber.
Nu, vintsh ikh dir, mazel-tov, mazl mayn liber.
Du bist keyn bal-khayim, dayn shem iz genezn
Di shuld zi iz mayne, yo, mayne gevezn.
Ikh hob nit gegloybt az du vest mikh baroybn
Ikh hob nit gevust nokh dem umglik fun gloybn.
Ikh hob nokh di mentshn genoy nit bagrifn.
Ikh hob nit gevust az di tsung iz geshifn.
Neyn, du bist nit shuldik; Ikh kum dir fartsayen
Ikh vil dikh farlozn, ikh vil dikh bafrayen.
Vi kum ikh, an oysvorf, in elnt geshlosn
farlangen mayn maysters a zun far a khosn?

Now you say you no longer want to see me.
I, to the contrary, come to bid farewell.
I know that you now love another:
so I wish you good luck and good fortune my love.
You are a living creature, your name will recover.
Guilty am I, yes I was the guilty one.
I did not believe that you would rob me.
I did not know of the tragedy in believing.
I did not know that the tongue is sharpened.
No, you are not guilty; I come to ask your pardon.
I want to leave you; I want to liberate you.
How could I, an outcast, trapped in loneliness,
ask my boss’s son to be my groom?
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“S’iz shvarts in himl” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2019 by yiddishsong

S’iz shvarts in himl / The Sky is Black by Avrom Goldfaden
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman.
Recorded by Leybl Kahn, Bronx 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman: 

This song about Rebecca in the Bible is a folklorized version of a song written by Avrom Goldfaden. It appears, text only, in his volume Dos yidele, where it is called “Rivkes toyt” (Rebecca’s Death, see scans below). Before the poem, Goldfaden gives this introduction:

In the midrash it says: When Rebecca died, they had to bury her at night so that Esau would not see and follow her to the burial. For if he did so, she would be cursed for having such a son. Jacob had run away to Horon and Isaac was too old. So no one accompanied her at her funeral. 

rebeccacoro“Rebecca at the Well”, painting by Corot, 1839

The midrash addresses the question – why was Rebecca’s death not mentioned in the Torah?

Goldfaden was a master of creating songs that resonated with Yiddish folklore. Though this song is about Biblical figures, it resembles a typical Yiddish orphan song. The second line “S’iz a pakhed af der gas aroystsugeyn” (It is a fright to go out in the street) is the exact same as the second line in the ballad “Fintser glitshik shpeyt ba der nakht“, the first song ever presented on Yiddish Song of the Week. And the last line “Elnt blaybsti du vi a shteyn” (Alone you remain like a stone) is found in other Yiddish orphan songs. In this case, biblical Jacob is the orphan. LSW, in her slow, emotional and mournful style, sings this song about Biblical characters as if it reflected a contemporary, local tragedy.

Two textual changes worth noting:

1) Instead of Goldfaden’s “A mes, a mes” א מת, א מת  (A corpse, a corpse), Lifshe sings “emes, emes” (true, true) אמת אמת. which just by combining the two words into one word, changes the meaning completely. This reminds us of the Golem legend in which “emes” אמת [truth] was written on the Golem’s forehead, but when he was no longer needed, the rabbi wiped off the first letter, the alef א and the Golem became dead מת

2) LSW sings “miter Rukhl” (mother Rachel) instead of “miter Rivke” (mother Rebecca). This can be explained, I believe, by the fact that the appellation “muter/miter Rukhl” is far more common than “muter Rivke”. I  did a Google Search in Yiddish to compare both and “muter Rukhl” won 453 – 65. The Yiddish folksinger would have found the phrase “muter Rivke” strange to the ear. In addition, the matriarch Rachel also had an unusual burial: she was buried far from home, on the road to Efrat, and therefore all alone, as Rebecca.

In the papers of the YIVO Ethnographic Commission there is a version of the song collected in the 1920s or 1930s, singer, collector and town unknown. There too the singer changed “a mes” to “emes” but sang Rivke not Rukhl.

TRANSLITERATION

S’iz shvarts in himl me zeyt nit kayn shtern.
S’iz a pakhid af der gas aroystsugeyn.
Shvartse volkn gisn heyse trern
un der vint, er bluzt mit eyn geveyn.

Emes, emes, ersht nisht lang geshtorbn.
Etlekhe mentshn geyen trit ba trit.
Me trugt deym toytn, ersht a frishn korbn:
indzer miter Rukhl, ver ken zi nit?

Yankl iz dekh fin der heym antlofn.
Er shluft dekh dort af deym altn shteyn.
Shtey of di yusem! Di host dekh shoyn keyn mame nisht.
Elnt blabsti du vi a shteyn.

TRANSLATION

The sky is black, no stars can be seen.
It’s a fright to go out in the street.
Black clouds gush hot tears
and the wind blows with a great cry.

True, true she died not long ago.
Several people walked step by step.
They carry the deceased, a fresh sacrifice:
our mother Rukhl, who doesn’t know her?

Jacob had run away from home.
He sleeps on that old rock.
Wake up you orphan! You no longer have a mother.
You remain alone like a stone.

siz shvarts 1siz shvarts 2

From Goldfadn’s Dos yidele, 1891:

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“Af a shteyn zitst a reytekh mit a khreyn” Performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2017 by yiddishsong

Af a shteyn zitst a reytekh mit a khreyn
On a Stone Sit a Turnip and a Horseradish
performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Text by Eliezer Shteynbarg, music by “Prof. Kohn”.
Recorded in Jerusalem by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, 1970s.
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

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Illustration by Arthur Kolnik in Eliezer Steinbarg’s Mayn alef-beys (My Alphabet), Chernovitz, 1921

TRANSLITERATION
(in Khava Rosenblatt’s dialect)

Of a shteyn, of a shteyn
zitst a reytekh mit a khreyn.
Eytekh – beytekh! zugt der reytekh
Vus s’iz der himl azoy reyn?
Eytekh – beytekh! zugt der reytekh
Vus s’iz der himl azoy reyn?

Lomir beyde tontsn geyn.
Lomir beyde tontsn geyn.
Bald gevorn iz a freyd
in gelofn s’kind un keyt.

S’tantst a reytekh mit a khreyn!
Vi zhe loyft men dus nit zeyn?
Meshiakhs tsat hot men gemeynt
in me hot far freyd geveynt.

Eykh bin oykhet dort geveyn
Eykh bin oykhet dort geveyn
tsigeshtipt hob ikh mikh shver
in kh’ob oykh gelozt a trer!

TRANSLATION

On a rock, on a rock
sit a turnip and a horseradish.
I beg of you, says the horseradish:
Why is the sky is so clear ?
I beg of you, says the horseradish:
Why is the sky is so clear ?

Let’s both go dancing!
Let’s both go dancing!
Soon there was such a celebration
and everybody ran over.

A turnip dancing with a horseradish!
How could you not run to see?
The Messiah has come we all thought
and for joy we all cried.

I was also there.
I was also there.
With difficulty I pushed myself through
and I too let fall a tear!

The text of this song is slightly altered from Mayn alef-beys (My Alphabet) by Eliezer Steynbarg (1880 – 1932) published in 1921, Chernovitz, Romania; a classic work of Yiddish children’s literature with illustrations by Arthur Kolnik, Ruven Zelikovitsh (later known as Reuven Rubin) and Solomon Lerner. The original text in Yiddish is attached below.

Khave Rosenblatt was born in a Shatava, a Ukrainian town near Kamenets-Podolsky.  In 1917 the family moved to briefly to Khotin (Khotyn/Chotin) in Bessarabia and then to Chernovitz, Bukovina. There she was a kindergarten teacher in a Hebrew school and emigrated to Israel with her husband and child in 1934. Her husband had been a famous eye doctor in Romania but became a natural healer in Israel saying he would no longer spill blood. He died in 1945. In Israel Khava Rosenblatt worked for the Kupat Kholim, the national health care agency in Israel.

Rosenblatt’s family was very close to the poet laureate of Chernovitz, Eliezer Steynbarg, and she helped proofread the first volume of his Mesholim (Fables) published in Chernovitz in 1933 which appeared posthumously. She recalls that the composer of this song, and others by Steinbarg, was someone named Prof. Kohn.

In the small collection Eliezer Shteynbarg: gezungene lider edited by Hersh Segal, Rekhovot, 1977, the editor writes that except for one song in the collection, none of the composers are known. Attached is the music to this text from that 1977 collection which is similar.

Another song from Mayn Alef-beys – “Der ber” (aka – “Af di aksl mit tsvey kanen”) – was recorded on the Living Traditions CD “Di grine katshke“.

Thanks to Dr. Paul Glasser for assistance with this week’s post.

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“Blumke mayn zhiduvke” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

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

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

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

220px-GebirtigMordkhe Gebirtig

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

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

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

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

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

Oy, vet dikh dayn beyzer tatke
dikh derfar bashtrofn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Du vint du shtifer” Performed by Leo Summergrad

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The song Du vint du shtifer, (You wind, you prankster) was learned by Leo Summergrad in the Bronx Mitl Shule of the IWO  (International Worker’s Order) in either 1938, 1939, or 1940.  The recording presented here was made in the 1950’s.

leo summergrad

Leo Summergrad, picture by the
Yiddish Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project

Summergrad’s music teachers would have been either Vladimir Heifetz  (1893 – 1970) or Irving R. Korenman, both well-known composers associated with the Jewish left.

More on these composers can be found in the papers of Vladimir Heifetz at YIVO. The author and composer of “Du vint du shtifer” will probably also be found in Heifetz’s papers.

Du vint, du shtifer

A lid a freylekhs zing undz oys
du vint, du shtifer,
du vint du shtifer
du vint du shtifer.

Host oysgenishtert hoykhe berg
in yamen tife,
un umetum hostu a lid gehert.

Zing undz vint fun di berg shver tsu greykhn
un bahaltene soydes fun yam.
fun foyglen in di heykhn
fun bloyen rum dem bleykhn
fun mutikayt vos veyst keyn tsam.

Ver gevoynt s’iz in kamf zikh tsu shteln
Zol mit undz itser zingen on shrek.
Biz freylekh vestu kveln,
un vilstu vestu poylen
un zukhstu nor, gefinst dayn veg.

A lid a freylekhs zing undz oys
du vint, du shtifer,
du vint du shtifer
du vint du shtifer.

Host oysgenishtert hoykhe berg
in yamen tife,
un umetum hostu a lid gehert.

Zing a lid vos in dem zol klingen
ale lider fun friling geshpreyt.
Az lipn zoln zingen,
dos harts fun glik zol shpringen,
zikh hoybn zoln fis far freyd.

Ver gevoynt s’iz in kamf zikh tsu shteln
zol mit undz itser zingen on shrek.
Biz freylekh vestu kveln,
un vilstu vestu poylen
un zukhstu nor, gefinst dayn veg.

TRANSLATION (by Leo Summergrad)

You Wind You Prankster

Sing us a happy song,
You wind you prankster.
You have explored high mountains and deep seas,
And everywhere you heard a song.

Sing us, wind, of the peaks hard to scale,
Of hidden secrets of the sea,
Of birds on high, of blueness in the heavens,
Of a spirit that has no bounds.

Refrain:

Whoever is accustomed to go into battle,
Should sing with us, without fear.
If you are happy, you will be joyful,
And if you desire, you’ll succeed.
And if you seek, you will find your way.

Sing us a happy song,
You wind, you prankster.
You have explored high mountains and deep seas,
And everywhere you heard a song.

Sing a song in which should ring out
All the songs of Spring, combined.
That lips should sing,
And the heart jump with happiness,
And feet shall rise with joy.

Refrain

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“In dem vaytn land Sibir‟ Performed by Chana Yachness and Rukhele Yachness

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2013 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

It was very sad and shocking news to hear that Chana Yachness passed away on September 29th, 2013. She grew up in the leftist (“linke”) Yiddish circles of New York, loved Yiddish culture and was a wonderful link to that world. She was beloved by all and this week‘s contribution to the Yiddish Song of the Week is in her memory.

Chana and ted
Chana Yachness and her husband, Ted Haendel.
Photograph by Emily Socolov.

Her mother Rukhele Barak Yachness was a fine Yiddish singer and actress and in this recording (which I recorded in the Bronx, 1999) they sing together a revolutionary folksong In dem vaytn land Sibir that can be found in the volume of Moshe Beregovski’s writings and transcriptions edited by Mark Slobin, Old Jewish Folk Music (1982, see below). It‘s obviously not a perfect recording with bantering and joking – Chana sings the name of Yiddish actor “Maurice Schwartz‟ instead of “khmares shvarts‟, but it is the only recording I can find of the song. Their spirited interpretation gives one the sense of how a Yiddish revolutionary song used to be performed, especially by Jewish choruses.  Note that in the Beregovski volume there is a second verse; Chana and Rukhele sing the first and third.

Many of the Yiddish songs that are sung by di linke today, including In dem vaytn, were learned from the folk operetta  A bunt mit a statshke (A Revolt and a Strike) assembled from songs printed in Beregovski‘s song collection of 1934 by the choral leader and conductor Jacob Schaefer and critic Nathaniel Buchwald. This operetta was not only performed by the choruses of the time, 1930s, but in the Yiddish leftist camp Kinderland (at Sylvan Lake, Dutchess County, NY) where Chana no doubt learned it in the late 1940s and 1950s. See the recent documentary on Kinderland – Commie Camp

The West Coast musician Gerry Tenney had long planned with Chana Yachness to produce this operetta again; see Hershl Hartman‘s post on A Bunt mit a statshke on the email-list Mendele from 1997.

In the distant land Siberia
Where the sky is always covered by clouds,
I was banished there,
for one word – for freedom.
I was beaten with the whip,
so I would no longer say
“Let there be freedom – to hell with Nicholas‟

Soon will come the happy time,
Soon we will know from near and far,
that Russia is bright, that Russia is free.
“Let there be freedom – to hell with Nicholas‟

YachnessItzik

YachnessLyrics1

YachnessBeregovski1

YachnessBeregovski2