Archive for Torah

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman Performs “Ale meydelekh hobn khasene”

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2021 by yiddishsong

Ale meydelekh hobn khasene / All the Girls are Getting Married
A children’s song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954, NYC

TRANSLITERATION 

LSW’s son, Mordkhe Schaechter, introduces the song: “Nokh a kinderlid” – “Another children’s song.”

Ale meydelekh hobn khasene,
Eykh blab aleyn.
Oy, mame, s’iz avade
nit sheyn.

Tate, gey afn ben-zukher,
un kloyb mir oys a bukher.
Ale meydelekh hobn khasene.
Un eykh blab aleyn. 

TRANSLATION

All the girls are getting married.
I remain alone.
Oy, mame, of course
it’s not nice.

Father, go to the ben-zokher
and pick out a groom for me. 
All the girls are getting married.
And I remain alone. 

,אַלע מיידעלעך האָבן חתונה
.איך בלײַב אַליין
אוי, מאַמע, ס’איז אַוודאי
.ניט שיין

 טאַטע, גיי אויפֿן בן־זכר
.און קלויב מיר אויס אַ בחור
.אַלע מיידעלעך האָבן חתונה
.און איך בלײַב אַליין

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman 

The third line of this short children’s song was difficult to understand, but thanks to Yiddish teacher and researcher Eliezer Niborski, I believe we have the complete correct version. 

A ben-zokher (“zukher” in LSW’s dialect) is a ritual on the Friday night following the birth of a boy. At the home of the new born, the parents serve guests and relatives wine and fruit. The phrase “ben zokher” is from Jeremiah 20:15. See Hayyim Schauss’ description of the tradition in his work The Lifetime of a Jew.

“Wedding” by Issachar Ber Ryback, c. 1930

Niborski also found the ben-zokher – bokher rhyme in two other sources. One in a children’s song that Ruth Rubin sings, “Tate, tate, gey afn ben-zukher”, as heard at YIVO’s Ruth Rubin Archive. The second he found in the essay by I. L. Peretz “Dos yidishe lebn loytn yidishn folkslid” (“Jewish Life as Depicted in Yiddish Folksong”)

Special thanks to Eliezer Niborski and the Ruth Rubin Archive at the YIVO Sound Archive. 

“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

“Eyns, eyns ver veyst vos dos iz eyns?” Performed by Professor David Fishman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2020 by yiddishsong

Eyns, eyns ver veyst vos dos iz eyns? / One, one, who knows one?
A Passover Song sung by Professor David Fishman in NYC. Recorded through internet by Itzik Gottsman, Austin TX. March 25, 2020

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The Corona virus lockdown did not deter us from recording this gem for Passover. Fishman learned this from Rabbi Herschel Schacter Z’L (1917 – 2013), long time rabbi of the Mosholu Jewish Center in the Bronx.

schachterRabbi Herschel Schacter

This version has eight verses but on Wiki Source.org we found a version with more verses extending to thirteen. Here is the link which is only the text in Yiddish. 

In this Wiki Source version all the previous verses get repeated each time, paralleling other “Ekhod mi yodea” (“Who Knows One”) types of Passover songs such as “Mu asapru, mu adabru”.

shalom of safedIllustration of song “Who Knows One” by painter Shalom of Safed (1887-1980). Reprinted in: A Feast of History by Chaim Raphael. London and Jerusalem: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1972.

At the end of this post we have given the translated and translated extra five verses of the Wiki Source song. Fishman’s version in Yiddish is also given at the very end.

The ethnomusicologist Michael Lukin has sent us additional information on this song including a discussion of it in the Yiddish Forverts newspaper and a similar melody found in a Ukrainian song from the former Yugoslav region.

TRANSLITERATION

Fishman, spoken: “Dos iz a lid vos ikh ken fun mayne kinderyorn. Ikh hob dos gehert fun dem rov, Harav Schachter fun undzer shil. S’iz aza yidishe ‘Ekhod mi yodea'” (This is a song from my childhood. I heard it from Rabbi Schachter from our synagogue. It’s a Yiddish ‘Ekhod mi yodea’).

1) Eyns, eyns ver veyst vos dos iz eyns?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz eyns.
Eyns iz hakodesh borekh hu.
Der eybershter in himl. Eyner bistu!
Eyns iz hakodesh borekh hu.
Der Eybershter in himl. Eyner bistu!

2) Tsvey, tsvey ver veyst vos dos iz tsvey?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, un ikh zog dir zey.
Tsvey lukhes fun sapirshteyn,
Geshribn hot af zey Der Eybershter aleyn.
Tsvey lukhes fun sapirshteyn.
Geshribn hot af zey Der Eybershter aleyn.

3) Dray, dray ver veyst vos dos iz dray?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, un ikh zing zikh tsu derbay.
Dray oves zenen bay undz do.
Avrom, Yitskhok, Yankev zikhroyno livrokho.
Dray oves zenen bay undz do.
Avrom, Yitskhok, Yankev zikhroyno livrokho.

4) Fir, fir ver veyst vos dos iz fir?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, un ikh zog zey dir.
Fir imoes zenen bay undz do.
Sore, Rivke, Rokhl un Leyo.
Fir imoes zenen bay undz do.
Sore, Rivke, Rokhl un Leyo.

5) Finf, finf ver veyst vos dos iz finf?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz finf.
Di Toyre iz tseteylt af finef sforim.
Breyshis, Shmoys, Vayikro, Bamidbor un Devorim.
Di Toyre iz tseteylt af finf sforim.
Breyshis, Shmoys, Vayikro Bamidbor un Devorim.

6) Zeks, zeks ver veyst vos dos iz zeks?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz zeks..
Af zeks khalokim efn uf un ze:
iz bay undz tseteylt di Toyre-shebal-pe
Af zeks khalokim efn uf un ze:
iz bay undz tseteylt di Toyre-shebal-pe

7) Zibn, zibn ver veyst vos dos iz zibn?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz zibn.
Zeks teg a vokh arbetstu,
Der zibeter tog iz shabes, shtel zikh op un ru!
Zeks teg a vokh arbetstu.
Der zibeter tog iz shabes, shtel zikh op un ru!

8) Akht, akht ver veyst vos dos iz akht?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz akht.
Akht teg vert a yingl alt.
Makht men im a bris un er vert gemalt.
Akht teg vert a yingl alt.
Makht men im a bris un er vert gemalt.

TRANSLATION

One, one who knows what is one?
I know, I know, I know what is one.
One is Blessed be his name.
God in heaven. You are one!

Two, two, who knows what is two?
I know, I know and tell you thus.
Two tablets made of sapphire,
written by God himself.

Three, three who knows what is three?
I know, I know, and I sing along.
We have three patriarchs:
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, may their memory be blessed.

Four, four, who knows what is four?
I know, I know and I’ll tell you who they are.
We have four matriarchs.
Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

Five, five who knows what is five?
I know, I know, I know what is five.
The Torah is divided into five books:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy

Six, six who knows what is six?
I know, I know, I know what is six.
Six divisions, open up and see:
that is how our oral Torah is divided.

Seven, seven, who knows what is seven?
I know, I know, I know what is seven.
Six days a week you are working.
The seventh day is Sabbath, take a break and rest.

Eight, eight who knows eight?
I know, I know, I know what is eight.
When a boy becomes eight days old
he has a bris and is circumcised.

WIKISOURCE VERSION With five additional verses

9) Nayn, nayn ver veyst vos dos iz nayn?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos iz nayn.
Nayn monatn vert ayngeshtelt
eyder a kind kumt af der velt.

Nine, nine, who knows what is nine?
I know, I know, I know what is nine.
It has been established that Nine months
must pass for a child to come into this world

10) Tsen, tsen ver veyst vos dos iz tsen?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is tsen.
Oyf barg Sinai hot undzer Got
Undz gegebn di tsen gebot.

Ten, ten, who knows what is ten?
I know, I know, I know what is ten.
On Mount Sinai our God
gave us the ten commandments.

11) Elf, elf ver veyst vos dos iz elf?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is elf.
Akhod oser lozt unz hern
Yoysefs kholem un di elf shtern.

Eleven, eleven, who knows what is eleven?
I know, I know, I know what is eleven.
Eleven teaches us –
Joseph’s dream and the eleven stars.

12) Tsvelf, tsvelf ver veyst vos dos iz tsvelf?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is tsvelf.
Yankevs kinder fun dor tsu dor.
Di tsvelf shvotim un Ruven iz der bkhor.

Twelve, twelve, who knows what is twelve?
I know, I know, I know what is twelve.
Jacob’s children from generation to generation:
the twelve tribes and Reuben is the oldest.

13) Draytsn, draytsn ver veyst vos dos iz draytsn?
Ikh veys, ikh veys, ikh veys vos dos is draytsn.
A Got fun rakhmones iz undzer boyre.
Draytsn mides lernt undz di Toyre.

Thirteen, thirteen who knows what is thirteen?
I know, I know, I know what is thirteen.
A God of mercy is our creator:
thirteen attributes teaches us the Torah.
passover1passover2passover3passover4

“Ikh hob gevolt a meylekh zan” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2019 by yiddishsong

Ikh hob gevolt a meylekh zan / I wanted to be king
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman
Recorded in Bronx, NY by Leybl Kahn 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is our 153 posting on the Yiddish Song of the Week blog. Upon reflection, it has given us great satisfaction to see the effects of the blog. Songs from YSW have been recorded; choral leaders have introduced these songs to their groups; and in concerts and around dining room tables many singers around the world perform songs learned from YSW. It has also inspired some to look for Yiddish song recordings in their own families and contribute.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Pete Rushefsky, Executive Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York who is the webmaster of the blog and has done an outstanding job.

After each post we receive some comments about the translations, misspellings and corrections, additional information on the songs and we appreciate all of them. We do not have the time or staff to sit down and change the original posts, but will some day we hope. Therefore it is important for the readers of the blog to also read the comments. Now onto this week’s post…

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) rarely sings dance tunes such as this in 2/4 time. Perhaps this is based on a sher (square dance) from her hometown of Zvinyetshke, Bukovina? Versions of the lyrics, verses and refrain, are better known with a different, slower melody. For example, Feygl Sultan sings it and calls it Hob ikh mir a shpan on Ruth Rubin’s recording Jewish Life: The Old Country. Menachem Kipnis includes this song with the slower melody in his collection of 60 folksongs and calls it Zol ikh vern a rov. Others call it A bal-agole lid or Der bal-agole (The Coachman). That version has been recorded many times by cantors in particular.

LifsheAndFeterWidman

Lifshe with her second husband Isaac Widman, 1950s NY

Though LSW only sings two verses, a creative singer could take lyrics from these other recordings and printings to extend the song. The song begs for contemporary lyrics – “ikh hob gevolt a president zayn….” etc. In almost all the other versions the rhyme with “vilt zikh” is “shilt zikh” (my wife is always cursing) which seems right.

TRANSLITERATION
Ikh hob gevolt a meylekh zan,
hob ikh nisht keyn malke.
Kh’o gevolt a hitsl zan,
hob ekh nisht keyn palke.

Kh’o gevolt a melamed zan,
ken ekh nisht keyn Toyre.
Kh’o gevolt a soykher zan,
hob ekh nisht keyn skhoyre.

Refrain:
In in leybn vilt zekh
un mayn vayb krigt zekh.
Zey ikh mir a shteyn,
zets ekh zekh in veyn.

TRANSLATION
I wanted to be king
but I have no queen.
I wanted to be a dogcatcher,
but I have no club.

I wanted to be a melamed [teacher of children]
but I don’t know any Torah.
I wanted to be a merchant
but I have no merchandise.

Refrain:
l want to enjoy life
but my wife argues.
So I see a rock
and I sit myself down.
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“Pitifers vab” – A Purim Play Song Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2019 by yiddishsong

Pitifers vab / Potiphar’s Wife: A Purim Play Song
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NYC

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

800px-Rembrandt_-_Joseph_and_Potiphar's_wife

Potiphar’s wife and Joseph, by Rembrandt, 1634

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) remembered this song from a purim-shpil in her home town, Zvinyetshke, Bukovina. The “Mekhires yoysef” Purim pay about the selling of Joseph was so popular that  LSW term for the Purim players was “Yosef-shpiler”. This song sung by the Joseph character describes the attempted seduction by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39-40). It also is a good example of the open, carnivalesque atmosphere of the Purim holiday when even sexual topics could be referred to in public.

TRANSLITERATION

Pitifers vab hot mikh ongeredt,
ikh zol mit ir shlufn.
ikh zol mit ir shlufn.
Kh’o mikh getin a bore
mitn yeytse-hore,
az Got vet mikh shtrufn.

Pitifers vab hot mikh ongeredt,
mir zoln shlufn beyde.
mir zoln shlufn beyde.
Kh’o mikh getin a bore
mitn yeytse-hore,
az Yitskhok iz mayn zeyde.

Pitifers vab hot mikh ongeredt,
Mir zoln zayn tsizamen
Mir zoln zayn tsizamen,
Kh’o mikh getin a bore
mitn yeytse-hore,
az Rukhl iz mayn mame.

TRANSLATION

Potiphar’s wife tried to convince me,
that I should sleep with her.
I struggled with the evil inclination –
and remembered – God would punish me.

Potiphar’s wife tried to convince me,
we should sleep together.
I struggled with the evil inclination
and remembered – Isaac was my grandfather.

Potiphar’s wife tried to convince me,
we should be together.
I struggled with the evil inclination
and remembered – Rachel was my mother. potifer1potifer2

“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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“Az got hot bashafn mentshn af der velt” Performed by Ita Taub

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2016 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Since we start reading the book of Breyshis (Genesis) this week of Sukes, I thought it would be appropriate to post this recording of Ita (Eda) Taub singing a song about Adam and Eve and the snake. I recorded it from her in 1984 at the Circle Lodge Workmen’s Circle camp in Hopewell Junction, NY.

The words and music appear in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin. Wayne State University Press, 2007. Rubin recorded this song [tape 26] in 1962, and I recorded it again 20 years later at Circle Lodge, a camp for adults in upstate New York.The two versions are the same except for one or two words.

In the Rubin book she translates “Hot Got tsigenimen di reyd fun zayn layb” as “God perceived the needs of Adam’s body”. Literally, one should translate this line as “So God took away the speech from his body.” But I would think that the line once was “Hot Got tsigenimen di rip fun zayn layb” (God took out the rib from his body). This is supported by the version in Yiddisher folklor, ed. Y. L. Cahan (YIVO, Vilna, 1938), song #199 that is attached at the end (we’ve also included #200, for a similar melody).

The song, I believe, is very old and includes midrashim (interpretations or extensions) of the Biblical telling of Adam and Eve and the snake. Similar motifs can be found in the so-called “Women’s Bible”(the Tsene Rene) and the classic midrashic collections. The line “Eve, Eve what have you done? An entire world you did destroy” reflects the midrash that Eve had all the animals take a bit of the apple (except the immortal Phoenix bird) and therefore mortality was introduced into the world (see also Louis Ginzburg’s Legends of the Jews, Volume One).

adam-eve-serpent

Given the simplicity of the melody, almost a recitative, and the subject matter, my feeling is that the song evolved from a Yiddish woman’s prayer, a tkhine.

After the song Taub talks about the impression this song and her other song, Oy vey mame (also on the Yiddish Song of the Week Blog) left on her friend, the historian Raphael Mahler (who also recorded songs and nigunim for Ruth Rubin). She then tells us where she learned the songs.

The footnote in the printed Rubin version adds that the last verse refers to biting the umbilical cord, but this is not clear to the listener I believe.

Additionally, Michael Alpert and Julian Kytasty have recorded the song on their wonderful album Night Songs From a Neighboring Village (Oriente, 2014). You can hear it at the beginning of this video:

LYRICS TO TAUB’S VERSION:

1) Az got hot bashofn mentshn af der velt
oy, mentshn af der velt.
Oy, udem harishen tsum ershtn geshtelt.

2) Udem harishen iz shpatsirn gegangen in vayngurtn aran.
Oy iz im a vab in zin aran.

3) Hot Got tsigenimen di reyd fin zan lab,
Un hot im gegegeybn Khoven far a vab.

4) Oy Khove mit Udem zenen shpatsirn gegangen in vangurtn aran.
Iz Khoven an epl in der rekhter hont aran.

5) Iz tsigekimen di beyze shlong “Khove, Khove,
gib a bis dem epl, vesti zen vi zis er iz.”

6) Oy hot zi genimen un gegebn a bis deym epl.
Oy hot zi gezen vi zindik zi iz.

7) Hot zi genemen a blot kegn der levone,
un hot zikh tsigedekt dos zindike punim.

8) Hot zi genimen a blot kegn mist,
un hot zikh tsigedekt di zindike brist.

9) Khove, Khove vus hosti getrakht?
A velt mit mentshn imgebrakht.

10) “Nisht ekh hob es getun, nisht ekh hob es getun
di beyze shlong hot es tsigetrakht.”

11) “Zibn yur zolsti trugn, shver un biter zolsti hubn.
Af di skoles zolst dikh rasn, un ven di vest es hubn, zolst es tsebasn.”

Dialogue After the Song:

Dus iz take epes zeyer, zeyer originel. Vu’ zhe iz – hot er [Raphael Mahler] gevolt nemen di tsvey lider, un nokh tsvey lider, ikh gedenk shoyn nisht vus. Ober di zenen geveyn di ershte. Az er vil nemen un mekh arimfirn iber di kibutzim. Zol er zey vazn vus se meynt originele ekhtkayt. Un az zey farshteyn nisht di shkutsim, vel ikh zey shoyn derklern. Ikh vel shoyn derklern vus dus iz. Zey veln dus zeyer shtark upshatsn, zugt er. ___kibutz.]

Gottesman: Fin vanen kent ir dus lid?

Taub: Fin vanen dus lid? Dus lid gedenk ikh fin der heym ___ Dortn vi me hot geneyt. Es fleygn zan a pur meydlekh un zey fleygn zingen. Dus ershte lid [Oy mame ikh shpil a libe] hot gezingen man miters a shvester. Zi iz geveyn farlibt, hot zi demlt gezingen dus lid.

Gottesman: Vi hot ir dus gezingen?

Taub: In Skedinits, mayn shteytl.

Gottesman: Ven hot ir dus gehert, ven zi hot gearbet?

Taub: Zi hot gemakht di breyte kleydlekh vus di poyertes trugn. Fleyg zi neyen far zey.  Iz zi gezesn bay a mashin un hot geneyt un ikh hob es zikh oysgelernt.

Gottesman: Tsi hot zi gezingen andere lider?

Taub: Ir veyst vifl yurn di ale zikhroynes…dus iz tsulib aykh vus ikh grub aroys ikh zol zikh dermanen. Ober ikh ken nisht gedenken.

TRANSLATION:

When God created people in this world
O, people in this world,
O, Adam was the first one he made.

Adam went walking into the vineyard,
O, then a wife came into his head.

So God took out his speech from his body,
and gave him Eve for a wife.

O, Adam and Eve went walking in the vineyard
And a red apple came into Eve’s hand.

Then the evil snake came over – “Eve, Eve, Eve
Take a bite out of the apple,
So you will see how sweet it is.”

O, then she took a bite out of the apple,
and realized how sinful she is.

Then she took a leaf against the moon,
and covered up her sinful face.

Then she took a leaf against her waste,[?]
and covered up her sinful breast.

Eve, Eve what were you thinking?
A whole world full of people you’ve condemned to death.

“It was not I who did it, it was not I who did it –
the evil snake thought it up.

” Seven years you should be pregnant,
hard and bitter should your birth be, on the cliffs may you climb,
and when you give bith, you should bite it to death”.

Dialogue after the song:

Gottesman: Where do you know this song from ?

Taub: Where do I know this song from? This song I remember from home. ____ The place where we sewed. There used to be a few girls who used to sing.

The first song [Oy mame ikh shpil a libe] was sung by my mother’s sister. She was in love so she sang that song.

Gottesman: Where did you sing it?

Taub: In Skedinits (Stidenitse, Ukraine), my shtetl.

Gottesman: When did you hear it, when she worked?

Taub: She made the broad dresses that the peasant women used to wear.. She used to sew for them.  So she sat at the [sewing] machine and sang.

Gottesman: Did she sing other songs?

Taub: Do you know how old these memories are?…For your sake I am digging them out and remembering them. But I can’t remember them.

bashafn1bashafn2bashafn3

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As published in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive edited by Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin (Wayne State University Press, 2007):

rubin-musicrubin-music-2

As published in Yidisher folklor, ed. Y. L. Cahan (YIVO, Vilna, 1938):

199a199b

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other-music

 

 

“In kheyder keseyder” performed by Clara Crasner

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2013 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is the third song we have posted by Clara Crasner, b. 1902 in Shargorod (a town near Vinnitsia, Ukraine). As she says after she sings the song, she learned this song in Romania approx. 1919-1920, where she waited for two years to get papers to come to America. Freedman recorded the song again, and this time she says that she learned it from a 5 year old boy.

Robert Freedman (Crasner’s son-in-law) recorded the song in 1972 and sent it to Chana and Yosl Mlotek for their Yiddish Forward newspaper column Leyner dermonen zikh lider – Readers Remember Songs. Below is a copy of the column with the Mlotek’s response, where they identify a number of published variants (click the image to enlarge):

mlotek crasner kheyder

With its uneven verse lines and “un-Jewish” melody, In kheyder keseyder sounds as if it could be a newer Yiddish theater song of the time.

Ven ikh bin a kleyn yingele geveyzn.
Hob ikh zikh gebudn in taykh.
Ven ikh bin a kleyn yingele geveyzn
hob ikh zikh gebudn a sakh.

When I was a small boy,
I bathed in the river [or lake].
When I was a small boy
I often bathed.

Gebudn, geplyusket, gelofn aheym
Hot mir der rebbe derzeyn.
Un hot mikh mekhabed geveyn.

I bathed, splashed and ran home,
but the rebbe spotted me.
And “honored” me [meant ironically – beat, punished]

Freyg ikh im farvus?
Farvus kimt mir dus?
Entfert er mir dus:

So I ask him why?
Why do I deserve this?
And this is how he answers me:

In kheyder keseyder,
a yingele darf zitsn dort.
In kheyder keseyder,
Sha! Un redt nisht keyn vort.

Always in kheyder [traditional elementary religious school]
is where a boy should sit.
Always in kheyder
Quiet! And don’t say a word.

Ven di volst in kheyder gegangen,
volsti di toyre derlangen.
Volsti geveyzn a yid, a yid.
Volt dir geveyzn gants git, gant git.

If you were to attend kheyder,
you could attain the Torah.
Then you would be a Jew, a Jew
And you would feel real good, real good.

In kheyder keseyder….

In kheyder keseyder