Archive for tragedy

“Ikh bin geboyrn simkhes pirem” Performed by Martele Friedman

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

Ikh bin geboyrn simkhes pirem/ I Was Born During the Celebration of Purim
Sung by Martele Friedman, recording by Mark David.
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week’s song was contributed by Mark David, director of the long running Boston Yiddish radio show Dos yidishe kol. He writes about the singer:

Margaret (Martele) Friedman was born in 1927, in the village Groys-Kinyat (גרויס-קיניאַט), now Великі Ком’яти (Velyki Kom’yaty), Carpathian mountains, Ukraine. She was deported to Auschwitz with her family from the Munkacs (Hungary) ghetto in spring 1944. She learned her repertoire as a child before the Holocaust. Friedman currently lives in Los Angeles.

Martele Friedman - closup - Frame-21-01-2020-11-31-15Martele Friedman (photo: Mark David)

The song Ikh bin geboyrn simkhes pirem was written and composed by her musical family.

An interview with her in Yiddish in which she tells of her life and sings this song and others was broadcast on January 20, 2020 on my Boston Yiddish podcast Yiddish Voice/Dos yidishe kol (click here to listen). The interview with Friedman begins at 10:45 minutes. She sings Ikh bin geboyrn at 28:54. Please note that the first time she sings the refrain she accidentally repeats a line. This is corrected in the next two refrains.

Musician and scholar Hankus Netsky has produced several concerts based on the song repertoire of Moyshe Hollander, Friedman’s cousin.

Thanks for help with this week’s post to Martele Friedman, Mark David, David Braun, Janina Wurbs and Steffen Krogh. – Itzik Gottesman

Some transcription notes:
“ey” = “a” as in made.
“ay” = “i” as in “nine”
“ow” = “o” as in “no”

As usual in this blog, the transcription reflects the singer’s dialect. The lyrics written in Yiddish are in standard “YIVO” Yiddish.

Kh’bin geboryn simkhes-pirem [Tomer her ikh muzik shpiln]

VERSE ONE

Kh’bin geboyrn simkhes-pirem,
freylekh bin ikh derfar.
Ikh es in trink in tants in shpring
in trowerik zayn zogar.

Es ken zayn a shnay.
Ikh tants in shray “hura!”
Tomer her ikh muzik shpiln
miz ikh tantsn glaykh.

REFRAIN

Tomer her ikh muzik shpiln
Kik ikh of kayn zakh.
Kowm hob ikh nor muzik derhert
kik ikh of kayn zakh.

Es geyt mir ariber a growl in mayn kerper.
Mayne nervn vern tseglit.
Akh krig di hits in tants in shvits
in her di muzik shpiln…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

VERSE TWO

Akh kim arayn tsu ayn razirer
oprazirn mikh.
Er zetst mikh anider of deym benkl
un zayft mikh ayn gants gikh.

Der razirer haybt mikh un tsi razirn
her ikh vi di muzik shpilt.
Ikh hayb un tsi tantsn of deym benkl
A shnit hob ikh derfilt.

Der razirer kikt mikh un.
Er vayst nisht vus tsi tun.
Er freygt mikh glaykh “Vus iz mit aykh?”
Zug ikh, dus iz mayn shiguen.

REFRAIN

Tomer her ikh muzik shpiln
Muz ikh tantsn glaykh.
Kowm hob ikh nor muzik derhert
kik ikh of kayn zakh.

Es geyt mir ariber a growl in mayn kerper.
Mayne nervn vern tseglit.
Akh krig di hits in tants in shvits
in her di muzik shpiln…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

VERSE THREE

Mayn shviger, zol lebn, i’ mir geshtorbn.
Nekhtn vert a vokh.
Gegangen bin ikh of der levaye,
a klug of deym brokh.

Balayt hob ikh mayn toyte shviger
biz tsi der royter brik.
Plitsling her ikh dort shpiln
a freylekh, listik shtik.

Herts vus s’iz gesheyn.
Ikh tants in shray hura!
Di levaye in gantsn haybt un tsi tantsn
gib ikh ayn geshray!

REFRAIN

Tomer her ikh muzik shpiln
Muz ikh tantsn glaykh.
Kowm hob ikh nor muzik derhert
kik ikh of kayn zakh.

Es geyt mir ariber a growl in mayn kerper.
Mayne nervn vern tseglit.
Akh krig di hits in tants in shvits
in her di muzik shpiln…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

TRANSLATION

I Was Born During The Celebration of Purim

VERSE ONE

I was born during the celebration of Purim;
therefore I am so happy.
I eat and drink and dance and jump,
and am even sad.

Even if it snowed
I would dance and yell “hurrah!”
If I should hear music playing
I must dance right away.

REFRAIN

If I should hear music playing
I don’t look at anything else.
As soon as I hear the music,
I don’t look at anything else.

A shudder goes through my body.
My nerves become red hot.
I get fever and dance and sweat
and hear the music playing…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

VERSE TWO

I go into a barber
for a shave.
He sits me down on the chair
and lathers me up quite fast.

The barber starts to shave me,
when I hear the music playing.
I start to dance on the chair
and felt a sudden cut.

The barber looks at me.
He knows not what to do,
He asks me “What”s with you?”
I say, this is my craziness.

REFRAIN

If I should hear music playing
I must dance straight away.
As soon as I hear the music
I don’t look at anything else.

A shudder goes through my body.
My nerves become red hot.
I get fever and dance and sweat
and hear the music playing…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

VERSE THREE

My mother-in-law, may she live, has died.
It happened eight days ago.
I went to the funeral.
I lament such a tragedy.

I accompanied my dead mother-in-law
up to the red bridge.
Suddenly I hear there playing
a joyous, merry tune.

Listen to what happened:
I dance and yell “hurrah!”
The entire funeral starts to dance,
so I cry out:

REFRAIN

If I should hear music playing
I must dance straight away.
As soon as I hear the music
I don’t look at anything else.

A shudder goes through my body.
My nerves become red hot.
I get fever and dance and sweat
and hear the music playing…
Ram-ta-ra-ra…la-la

tomer1tomer2tomer3

“Zishe Breitbart” Performed by Yitzchak Milstein

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Zishe Breitbart Sung by Yitzchak Milstein
Recorded by Toby Blum-Dobkin, 2/19/1977, Brooklyn NY. 

Commentary by Toby Blum-Dobkin. Song lyrics and transcription appear at the end of the post, including Milstein’s opening and closing spoken remarks. 

About the Singer Yitzchak Milstein

I first recorded Yitzchak Milstein singing the ballad of Zishe Breitbart in 1973, when I interviewed Mr. Milstein for the YIVO Yiddish Folksong Project, directed by Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett. The project team aimed to define and document Yiddish musical specialists and to compose portraits of such individuals [Blum-Dobkin 1975]. I again recorded the song in 1977, when I wrote an article about Zishe as a folk hero. I translated the song into English, and also transliterated it to reflect features of Milstein’s Yiddish pronunciation [Blum-Dobkin 1978].  

MilsteinPhoto

Yitzchak Milstein

I conducted ten interviews with Yitzchak Milstein for the Yiddish Folksong Project, between 2/27/1973 and 9/18/1974.  Each interview lasted approximately 90 minutes. All the interviews were conducted in Yiddish, with some songs and narrative in other languages. I translated portions of the interviews and songs into English, directly from the recordings. Bella Gottesman transcribed all the interviews and songs in Yiddish, also directly from the recordings. 

Mr. Milstein was born in Shidlovtse (Szidlowiec), Poland, in 1914. His mother Rokhl had a booth of ‘galenterye’ at the shtetl market. His father Motek (Mordkhe) was a ‘holts tokazh’ – a wood turner. Yitzchak worked as a tailor in Shidlovtse and seasonally in Warsaw. His childhood home was filled with music. He remarked, “In our home, almost everyone sang. . . were there better entertainments?. . . I remember that my father had a ‘liderbikhl’ – a Yiddish song book..  [with songs about] city girls and farmers’ girls…When my father was young he also acted in the drama circle, in [Goldfaden’s] Di Kishefmakherin – The Sorceress.” Even when Yitzchak’s father became more religious, he did not forbid Yitzchak from attending performances and acting in amateur dramatics. Yitzchak remembered that his father “said it was ‘b’yerushe’ – part of my legacy.”  The family had a mandolin, and Yitzchak learned by observing others.

In 1942 Yitzchak Milstein was forced into labor at the Skarszysko Hasag camp, and was subsequently incarcerated in several other Nazi camps. He was liberated in April 1945 and housed in the Displaced Persons camp in Feldafing, Germany. He emigrated to the the US in 1950 and settled in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, resuming work in his trade of tailoring.  He also resumed his avocation, singing. Mr. Milstein’s other avocation was keeping the memory of his shtetl Shidlovtse alive. He was active in the effort to publish Shidlovtse’s ‘yizker bukh’ – memorial book – for which he created artwork and essays  [Milstein 1974]. For Yitzchak Milstein, it was a matter of pride to reproduce a performance or song ‘genoy’ – as correctly and faithfully as possible. “I am a tape recorder,” he explained to me.

The Song ‘Zishe Breitbart’ 

Yitzchak Milstein had heard the ballad of Zishe Breitbart in the 1920’s from a ‘hoyfzinger’ – a street singer in Shidlovtse. The text of the ballad along with pictures of Zishe Breitbart were sold by street singers in broadside form. I am indebted to Chana Gordon Mlotek for directing me to other versions of the Breitbart song, and for pointing out the elements that the Breitbart ballad had in common with traditional ballads [Mlotek 1974].

PhotoBreitbart

Zishe (Sigemund) Breitbart

Zishe (Siegmund) Breitbart, son of a blacksmith, was born in Lodz, Poland, in 1883. His fame was based both on his physical strength and his unique personality. He toured widely, and in 1923 performed for the Keith vaudeville theaters in New York. The New York Times reported on Breitbart’s 1923 arrival in the United States:

“Among other feats of strength he claims to be able to lift ten or twelve persons with his hands, twist bars of iron like scraps of paper, crack Brazil nuts between his fingers, and haul a wagon with ten persons along the road by his teeth.” The article notes that Breitbart “says he is so sensitive that he would walk into the roadway to avoid trading upon a worm. . . he likes music and writes poems, but doesn’t like prize fighting. He declined an offer received by telegram at the pier to go to Saratoga Springs and have a tryout with Jack Dempsey, the heavyweight champion. ‘For me it is not,’ the strong man of Poland said.” [New York Times 1923].  

Breitbart’s death at the age of forty-two apparently resulted from blood poisoning initially contracted during a performance in Radom, Poland, when he scratched or punctured his leg with a nail.  He died in Berlin in 1925.

Zishe Breitbart’s crowd-pleasing persona and sense of mission as a Jewish hero made a lasting impression [Blum-Dobkin 1978; Bart 2014; Gillerman 2010].  He appeared in the silent film [Der Eisenkoenig 1923] and is the subject of a feature film [Invincible 2001].  It has even been posited that Zishe Breitbart was an inspiration for the character of Superman [Gordon 2011]. 

Milstein Comments

From Khane & Yosl Mlotek’s Song of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song (Workmens Circle, 2004):

Breitbart1Breitbart2Breitbart3

Selected Sources:

Bart, Gary.  Interviewed by Christina Whitney,  Wexler Oral History Project, National Yiddish Book Center, Amherst MA, November 21, 2014.

Blum-Dobkin, Toby.  “Case Study of a Traditional Yiddish Folksinger.” Unpublished paper, 1975.

Blum-Dobkin, Toby.  “Zishe, the Yiddish Samson.”  The Parade of Heroes: Legendary Figures in American Lore.” edited by  Tristram Potter Coffin and Hennig Cohen, Anchor Press, Garden City NY, 1978: 206-213, 557-558.

Der Eisenkönig.  Film directed by Max Neufeld, 1923. 

Gillerman, Sharon.  “The Strongest Man in the World.” YIVO Encyclopedia, 2010.

Gordon, Mel.  “Step Right Up and Meet the World’s Mightiest Human: A Jewish Strongman from Poland who Some Say Inspired the Creation of Superman.”  Reform Judaism, Summer 2011.  

Invincible.  Film directed by Werner Herzog, 2001.

Milstein, Yitzchak.  “Khronik fun khurbn in Shidlovtse.”  Shidlovtser Yizker Bukh/Yizkor Book Szydlowiec, edited by Berl Kagan  Shidlovtser Benevolent Association, NY (1974): 344-368.

Mlotek, Chana Gordon.  “Perl fun der yidisher poezye.” Forverts 1973.The New York Times August 27, 1923.

 

Three Yiddish Songs to the tune of the Italian pop classic “Return to Sorrento”

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Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In this posting, we examine three Yiddish Songs set to the tune of the Italian pop classic Return to Sorrento:

1) Fil gelitn hob ikh miter sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded in 1954 by
Leybl Kahn
2) Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets sung by Reyzl Stalnicovitz, and recorded by Itzik Gottesman in Mexico City, 1988.
3) Sore-Yente a song found in Meyer Noy’s collection at the National Library in Jerusalem, and performed by Sharon Bernstein, piano and vocal, and Willy Schwarz on accordion, Florence, Italy 2001.

sorrento

This week we highlight three Yiddish songs that use the melody of an Italian pop classic Torna a Surriento (Return to Sorrento) music by Ernesto De Curtis (1875 – 1937), copyright 1905. The original lyrics were by his cousin Giambattista De Curtis. Here is a Dean Martin recording of the Italian song which we chose because it has a translation of the Italian lyrics (click here to listen).

There are even more Yiddish songs that use this melody, among them: in 1933 after the murder of Haim Arlosoroff in Tel-Aviv, a song was composed to this melody and a song sheet was published (A tragisher mord in Tel-Aviv/A Tragic Death in Tel Aviv). A song about the Polish Jewish strongman Zishe Breitbard (1883 – 1925) also uses a version of the melody (see Mlotek, Songs of the Generations, page 147-148 ).

Thanks this week to Aida Stalnicovitz Vda Fridman and Sharon Bernstein.

1) Fil gelitn hob ikh miter (I Have Suffered Much Mother) 
Performance by Lifshe Schaechter Widman, recorded in 1954 by Leybl Kahn in NYC.

Lifshe introduces the song by saying “S’iz a lidl vus me hot gezingen in der ershter milkhume (It’s a song that was sung in the First World War).” The four verses are entirely in the mother’s voice, apparently addressed to her mother, as indicated in the first line.

TRANSLITERATION
Fil gelitn hob ikh miter
bay der as[ent]irung fun mayn kind.
Gearbet hob ikh shver in biter
Far vus lad ikh nokh atsind.?

Iz mayn zin nokh mayn nekhome
Vi iz er fin mir avek?
Afarshundn iz er in der milkhume.
Un a seykhl in un a tsvek.

Ziser Got ikh beyt ba dir
loz mikh nokh a nes gesheyn.
Eyder eykh vel shtarbn
Vil eykh mayn kind nokh eyn mol zeyn.

Dentsmult vel ikh riyik shtarbn.
Got tsi dir keyn tanes hubn.
Loz mayn kind khotsh eyn mul mir
nokh, “mamenyu” zugn.

TRANSLATION
Much have I suffered mother,
from the drafting of my child.
I worked hard and bitter.
Why do I still suffer?

My son is still my comfort
Where did he go and leave me?
Disappeared into the war,
for no logic, for no reason,

Dear God I pray to you
May another miracle take place.
Before I die,
I want to see my son once more.

Then I would calmly die
God, have no complaints to you..
Let my child say to me –
just once more “my mother dear”.

Fil Gelitn

2) Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets (Beautiful is Reyzele, the Shokhet’s Daughter)
Performance by Reyzl Stalnicovitz, recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Mexico City, 1988.

StalnicovitzPhotoReyzl Stalnicovitz, photo by Itzik Gottesman

Reyzl Stalnicovitz was born in 1935 in Xalapa, district of Vera Cruz, Mexico. She was a teacher at the I. L. Peretz shul (“Di naye yidishe shul”) in Mexico City, and passed away in  1996.

Of the three songs presented in this post, this song was by far the most popular and has been printed in several collections and can be found in the field recordings of Ben Stonehill, Sarah Benjamin and at the National Library in Israel. As for commercial recordings: Lea Szlanger sings it on her CD Lea Szlanger In Song.

The text was originally a thirteen verse poem by Zusman Segalovitch (1884 – 1949) that first appeared in the periodical Der shtrahl, Volume one, #2 Warsaw, 1910 (see below). There it was titled Dem shoykhets tokhter: balade (The shoykhet’s daughter: ballad) followed by the inscription – Dos hobn kinder in shtetl dertseylt (This Was Told by Children in Town).

The plot – Reyzl wants to marry Motl but the father, a shoykhet (kosher slaughterer) boils with anger as she combs her hair because she refuses the match he made. He then cuts her golden locks. Then it gets “weird”: she swims into the Vistula (Yiddish = Vaysl) river and builds a little shelter for herself along the bank until her hair locks grow again.
Stalnicovch sings four verses. This ballad was almost always shortened when sung. For example in the Arbeter Ring’s extremely popular songbook Lomir zingen (1939, NY), only five verses are printed (that scanned version, words and music, are attached below).

TRANSCRIPTION
Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets.
Zi hot a yunge harts on zorgn.
Zi tants un freyt zikh mit ir lebn.
Vi a shvalb mitn frimorgn.

Es bakheynen ir di oygn
Es bakreynen ir di lokn.
Un a shtoltse iz zi shtendik.
Zi vet far keynem zikh nit beygn.

Un ir tate iz a frumer
un dertsu a groyser kaysn.
Ven di tokhter kemt di lokn
Heybt er on di lipn baysn .

Un der tate veyst nokh gornisht
Vos in shtetl veysn ale:
Az Reyzl hot shoyn a khosn.
Un me ruft ir Motls kale.

TRANSLATION
Beautiful is the shoykhet’s daughter Reyzl
She has a young heart with no worries.
She dances and is joyful with her life
as a swallow is with the morning.

Her eyes make her pretty
Her locks are a crown on her;
And she is always proud.
She will bow for no one.

Her father is religious
and also quick to anger.
When he combs her locks,
he starts to bite his lips.

And her father doesn’t know anything
what everyone knows in town:
that Reyzl has a groom,
and they call her Motl’s bride.

Spoken (transliteration):
Dos iz vos ikh gedenk. Ober di mame flegt mir dertseyln az s’iz geven epes a gantse tragedye, vayl der tate hot nisht gevolt az zi zol khasene hobn. Vayl er iz geven a sotsyalist, a yingl, un er iz geven a frumer yid. Er hot gevolt zi zol khasene hobn mit a yeshiva bokher. Un zi’s antlofn mitn bokher.

Spoken (translation):
That’s what I remember. But the mother used to tell me that it was a whole tragedy because the father did not want her to get married. Because he (the groom) was a socialist boy and he (the father) wanted him to marry a Yeshiva student. And she ran away with the boy.

Sheyn iz Reyzele

3) Sore-Yente
Performance by Cantor Sharon Bernstein, Florence, 2001 (accompanied by Willy Schwarz on accordion)

The third song that uses the melody of Sorrienta is Sore-Yente – a word play on the original Italian title. This was collected by Meir Noy in Israel in 1962 from Shmuel Ben-Zorekh, who learned it from an immigrant from Minsk. A scan of Meir Noy’s original notation, words and music are attached below.

TRANSLITERATION
Mit a nign fun akdomes
shteyt baym fentster Yosl-Monish,
Far der sheyner Sore-Yente
Zingt er dort tsu ir a lid:

Kum tsu mir mayn sheynes benken,
Eybik vel ikh dikh gedenken.
Kh’vel mayn lebn far dir shenken.
Vayl ikh bin in dir farlibt.

Azoy lang iz er geshtanen
vi der groyser pipernoter
un zi hert im vi der koter
un geyt derbay af gikh avek.

TRANSLATION
With a melody from Akdometh
stands at the window Yosl-Monish
For the beautiful Sore-Yente
there, he sings this song:

Come to me my longed for beauty
I will long for you eternally.
I will give you my life
For I am in love with you.

He stood there for so long
like a giant dragon.
She totally ignores him
And walks quickly by him.

Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets (Beautiful is Reyzele, the Shokhet’s Daughter) by Zusman Segalovitch (1884 – 1949) in the periodical Der shtrahl, Volume one, #2 Warsaw, 1910:
ReyzlWords1ReyzlWords3ReyzlWords4ReyzlWords5ReyzlWords2

Sheyn iz Reyzele dem sheykhets (Beautiful is Reyzele, the Shokhet’s Daughter) from the Arbeter Ring’s songbook Lomir zingen (1939, NY):

Arbeter Ring1
Arbeter Ring2

Sore-Yente in Meir Noy’s Notebook:
Sore Yente Vol 1, p74-page-0

“Di farfirte” Performed by Leo Summergrad

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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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“Erev-Yonkiper nokhn halbn tog” Performed by Yankl Goldman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2018 by yiddishsong

Erev-Yonkiper nokhn halbn tog / On the Eve of Yom-kippur, In the Afternoon
Sung by Yankl Goldman
From the Ruth Rubin Legacy Archive of  Yiddish Folksongs, YIVO Institute, NYC

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Untitled drawingThis is a variation of the most common nineteenth century Yiddish murder ballad which often begins with “Tsvelef a zeyger”. But this version is unusual because the performer Yankl Goldman says before he sings that the boyfriend/suitor is a non-Jew and this is the reason why her parents reject him.

Other than the name “Panilevitsh”, there is no indication in the song itself that he is not Jewish. The version follows very closely to many other versions in which all the characters are Jewish.

Thanks to sound archivist Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound Archives for the recording. 

TRANSLITERATION

Spoken by Yankl Goldman: “A libeslid vos me hot gezungen nukh a tragishn tsufal ven der gelibter hot ermordet zayn gelibte tsulib dem vos di eltern hobn nisht tsigelozn, az zi zol khasene hobn mit em vayl er iz nisht geven keyn yid.”

Un di lid geyt azey –
Erev-yonkiper in halbn tog
ven ale meydlekh tien fun di arbet geyn.
Dort dreyt zikh arum Panalevitsh.
Git er Dvoyrelen oyskukn.

Azoy vi er hot zi derzeyn,
zi geblibn far zayn[e] oygn shteyn.
“Un itst iz gekumen di libe tsayt
Di zolst mir zogn yo tsi neyn.”

Tsi libst mikh yo, tsi di libst mikh nit
mayne eltern zey viln dikh nit.
Oy, mayne eltern tien mir shtern,
Ikh zol far dir a kale vern.

Azoy vi er hot dos derhert
Es hot im shtark fardrosn
aroysgenumen hot er deym revolver
un hot Dvoyrelen dershosn.

[Ruth Rubin: “Oy!”]

Azoy vi er hot ir dershosn.
Iz zi gefaln af a groysn shteyn.
Troyerik iz di mayse, ober lebn –
lebt zi shoyn nisht meyn.

TRANSLATION

Spoken by Yankl Goldman: “A love song that was sung after a tragedy, when the lover killed his beloved, because her parents would not allow her to marry a non-Jew.”

On the eve of Yom-kippur, in the afternoon
when the girls leave work,
Panalevitsh is hanging out,
waiting impatiently for Dvoyre.

As soon as he saw her
she stopped right before his eyes.
“And now has come the right time
for you to tell me – yes or no”.

“What does it matter if
you love or don’t love me
my parents do not want you.
Oy, my parents have ruined
my becoming your bride.”

As soon as he heard this
he was very chagrined.
He took out a revolver
and shot Dvoyre dead.

[Ruth Rubin says in background “oy!”.]

When he shot her
she fell upon a large stone.
Sad is the story, but
she lives no more.

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“Ver s’hot nor in blat gelezn: Der Bialystoker pogrom” Performed by Frahdl Post

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2018 by yiddishsong

Ver s’hot nor in blat gelezn: Der Bialystoker pogrom
Whoever has Read the Newspaper: The Bialystok Pogrom

Performance by Frahdl Post, Recorded by Wolf Younin 1970s.

This week’s song was submitted by Henry Carrey. The singer Frahdl Post is his grandmother, the mother of a previously featured singer, Leah Post Carrey (aka Leyke Post). Frahdl was born in Zhitomir, Ukraine in 1881 and died at the Workmen’s Circle Home for the Aged in the Bronx in 1976.

Carrey writes:

“Frahdl Herman Postalov, a/k/a Fannie Post, grew up in Zhitomir, Ukraine in a lower middle-class home, one of four sisters and two brothers. Her father Dovid-Hersh Herman had a shop where grain was sold. His wife, Rivke Kolofsky worked in the shop.

FrahdlPost

Frahdl Post

As a young girl, she always like to sing and dance and took part in amateur theatricals. Performing ran in the family. Her father was  a part-time cantor with a pleasant voice and Frahdl and her brother Pinye teamed up to perform at local parties. She told us that she learned her vast repertoire of many-versed songs by going to a store with friends every day where newly written songs would be purchased and then shared by the girls. She also used to stand in the street outside the local jail and learn revolutionary songs from the prisoners who could be heard through the windows. She remembered attending revolutionary meetings in the woods, and singing all the revolutionary songs, although she herself was not an activist.

One day she went to a fortune-teller who told her that her future husband was waiting at home. When she got home, she saw my grandfather, Shloyme, who had been boarding with her aunt. In 1907 they married and within a year her husband Shloyme was off to America to seek his fortune leaving a pregnant wife. Frahdl and my mother Leyke left to join him about four years later in 1913.

Eventually she got to Halifax, Nova Scotia but was denied entry to the US because she had a highly contagious disease called trachoma. Fortunately, she was somehow allowed into Canada instead of being sent back to Europe  as was customary. After four months of treatment in Montreal , Frahdl was cured and they left for Boston, where my grandfather had settled. Frahdl had two more children Rose and Hymie in the next three years.

During the 1920’s, Shloyme decided to move from Boston and start a tire business for Model-T’s in Arlington – a suburb of Boston where there were only three other Jewish families. However, my grandmother still took the tram into the West End of Boston to buy most of her food.  Understandably , the children  were influenced by the non-Jews around them and once brought a “Chanukah Bush” home and put up stockings on the mantel. My grandmother threw the tree out and filled the stockings with coal and onions from “Sente Closet”.  My mother, Leyke, who even at a young age was a singer, had been secretly singing with the Methodist choir. One day the minister came to the door to ask my grandmother’s permission to allow my mother to sing in church on Christmas Eve. That was the last straw for my grandmother and they moved back to the West End.

My grandmother always sang around the house both the Yiddish and Ukrainian folksongs she had learned in Zhitomir and the new Yiddish theater songs she heard from other people or later on the radio and on recordings. All the children learned the songs and Leyke incorporated them into her repertoire when she became a professional singer.”

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman:

The song Ver s’hot nor in blat gelezn describes the Bialystok pogrom which occurred on June 1, 1906. Two hundred Jews were killed and seven hundred wounded – a particularly violent pogrom.

A number of verses are similar to other pogrom songs. The same song but only five verses long, with a reference to a pogrom in Odessa (1871? 1881? 1905?) is heard on Ruth Rubin’s Folkways album The Old Country and is printed in the YIVO collection Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive sung by Mr. Persky of Montreal. We have attached two scans of the song as it appears in the book, words and melody.

Click here for a previous posting about another song about pogroms (including Bialystok).

There it is noted that “The song is folklorized from a poem by Abraham Goldfaden, Di holoveshke (The Ember). I find only the third verse of Goldfaden’s poem to be adapted in this song. Three scans of Goldfaden’s original poem are attached as they appear in the 1891 edition of Dos yidele. In Post’s version it is the fifth verse.

In the Frahdl Post recording, the 10th verse ends abruptly before the song’s conclusion. Fortunately, Henry Carrey was able to add the last verse (and an alternate line) based on other recordings of his grandmother, so the transcription and translation include this final verse but it is cut off in the audio recording.

Wolf Younin (1908 – 1984), who recorded this song, was a well-known Yiddish poet, lyricist (Pozharne komande, Zing shtil, Der yid, der shmid, Ober morgn) and journalist. His column Shprakhvinkl included much Jewish folklore. Younin’s NY Times obituary is available here:

Thanks to Henry Carrey for this week’s post. The transliteration is based on his version. I changed some words to reflect her dialect.

TRANSLITERATION

Ver s’hot nor di blat geleyzn
Fun der barimter shtot Bialistok
Vos far an imglik dort iz geveyzn
In eyne tsvey dray teg.

Plitsling, hot men oysgeshrign,
“Shlugt di yidn vi vat ir kent! “
Shteyner in di fenster hobn genumen flien.
A pogrom hot zikh oysgerisn in eyn moment.

Blit gist zikh shoyn  in ale gasn,
In se shpritst zikh shoyn oyf di vent.
Yidn hot men geharget, oysgeshlugn.
Mit zeyer blit hot men gemult di vent.

Dort shteyt a kale oyf di harte shteyner,
Ungetun in ir vays khipe-kleyd
Un leybn ir shteyt a  merder eyner
un er halt dem khalef in der hant gegreyt.

Dort ligt a froy , a yinge,  a sheyne,
farvorfn, farshmitst ligt zi oyfn mist.
Leybn ir ligt a kind a kleyne;
zi tit ir zoygn ir toyte kalte brist.

Vi zey zaynen nor in shtub arayngekimen,
un zey hobn di mentshn git gekent.
Vus iz geveyn in shtib hobn zey tsebrokhn.
Di mentshn upgeshnitn hobn zey di hent.

Vi zey zaynen nor in shtub arayngekimen,
Mit ayn tuml, mit a groysn rash.
Vus iz geven in shtub hobn zey tsebrokhn,
Kleyne kinder arupgevorfn funem dritn antash.

Ver s’iz  baym umglik nisht geveyzn
Un er hot dem tsorn nisht gezeyn.
Mentshn hobn geshrign “Oy vey un vind is mir”.
Aroysgelozt hobn zey a groys geveyn.

Vi men hot zey in hospital arayngebrakht,
Keyner hot zey gor nisht derkent.
Mentshn hobn geshrign “ Oy, vey un vind is mir”.
Zey hobn gebrokhn mit di hent.

Oy, du Got, [Recording ends at this point ]

Oy, du Got du bist a guter,
Far vo’zhe kukstu nisht fun himl arop ?
Vi mir laydn shver un biter
[Or alternate line: Batrakht zhe nor dem yidishn tuml]|
Farvos dayne yidn, zey kumen op.

TRANSLATION

Who has not read in the papers
Of the well-known city Bialystok
Of the tragedy that befell it.
in a matter of three days.

Suddenly someone cried out
“Beat the Jews as much as you can!”
Stones thrown at windows started flying
A pogrom erupted in one moment.

Blood already flows in all the streets
And is spurting already on the walls.
Jews were killed and beaten
With their blood the walls were painted.

There stands a bride on the hard stones
Dressed in her white bridal gown.
Next to her stands a murderer
And he holds the knife ready in his hand.

There lies a woman, young and beautiful
Abandoned, tortured, she lay on the garbage,
And next to her lies a small child
She nurses it from her dead, cold breast.

As soon as they entered the house
And they knew the people well,
Whatever was in the house they broke
The people’s hands they cut off.

As soon as they came into the house
With  noise and violence
Whatever was in the house they broke;
Small children were thrown down from the third floor.

Whoever was not at this tragedy
Did not see this great anger.
People yelled “O woe is me”
Letting out a great cry.

When they brought them to the hospital
No one could recognize them.
People cried out “Woe is me”
And wrung their hands .

Oy God [recording ends here but should continue with…]

Oy God you are good
why don’t you look down from heaven?
How we suffer hard and bitter
[alternate line: “Look upon this Jewish chaos”
Why your Jews are so punished.

bialystok yid1bialystok yid2bialystok yid3

Ver es hot in blat gelezn (From YIVO publication Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive):

bialystok lyrics

ruth rubin post 2

Abraham Goldfaden’s poem Di holoveshke (The Ember), published in Dos yidele (1891)

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ember4

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“Afn beys-oylem” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

„Afn beys-oylem‟ (On the Cemetery) is a version of Mikhl Gordon‘s Di shtifmuter (The Stepmother). A complete text of the original in Yiddish can be found in the first volume of Antologye: finf hundert yor yidishe poezye edited by M. Bassin, 1917, pages 167 -169, and Perl fun der yidisher poezye edited by Joseph and Chana Mlotek, 1974, pages 29-31 (A translation of the Mlotek book into English by Barnett Zumoff – Pearls of Yiddish Poetry – was published a couple of months ago).

A similar version of this song is in Shmuel-Zanvil Pipe‘s collection „Yiddish Folksongs From Galicia‟ edited by Dov and Meir Noy and included in the Pipe-volume –  Folklore Research Center Studies, volume 2, Jerusalem, 1971. In that text, a verse which names the husband “Avrum” is also sung; so a distinct Galician/Bukovina variant is clear, which is very different from the much longer original (there is no mention of the father‘s name in Gordon‘s text).  But as sometimes, or perhaps often happens, the condensed folk-version has much more power and intensity. For other versions see note #9, p. 300, in the Pipe volume.

Mikhl Gordon, (Vilna, 1823 – Kiev, 1890) had a wonderful sense of humor (he was author of „Di bord‟). However, here he composed a moving, even shocking, portrait of the life of an orphan. Women folksingers had no problem singing this kind of song since it truly reflected the difficult times and hopelessly depressing family situations. Singing it today from a stage is another matter…

LSW‘s Performance

For more on singer Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) 1893-1974 click here.

I consider this song the epitome of LSW‘s slow, mournful vocal style brimming with ornamentation. You can also hear the reach and power of her voice, which seems to float, if you will.

She clearly flubs the second verse, singing only three out of four lines and does not rhyme the obvious „anider‟ and „glider‟. But she improvises a neat ending to the shortened verse and continues. Notice how she only repeats the last two lines in the final verse, the emotional highpoint of the song.

This recording was done by Leybl Kahn in New York City, 1954. Please note that the Yiddish dialect of the singer is more accurately reflected in the transliteration than in the Yiddish text. 

Af deym beys-oylem inter a mitseyve,
dort hert men eyn kol fun ayn toyter nikeyve.
Oy vey! Dort shrayt a miter – oy vey iz mir in vind,
Vos vil di shtifmame fin man eyn in eyntsik kind!?

On the cemetery under a gravestone,
You can hear the voice of a dead woman.
Oy vey! shouts the mother. Oy vey, woe to me.
What does the stepmother want from my only child?

Zi kimt aheym fin der gas, di groyse marshas,
zi varft im anider, zi heybt im of.
zi tsenemt im a yede glider.

She comes home from the street, the evil woman,
she throws him down, and lifts him up,
she breaks every part of his body.

Avrum, Avrum, di bist geveyzn mayn man.
dem yusemeles futer, oykh min-hastam.
Oy vey! Tsi iz dayn herts fin ayzn, in di aleyn fin shteyn,
Vi (azoy) kensti farnemen deym yusemls geveyn?

Avrum, Avrum, you were my husband.
and the father of the orphaned child, of course.
Oy vey, is your heart made of iron, and you made out of stone?
How can you stand the cries of the orphan?

אויפֿן בית־עולם (די שטיפֿמוטער)

אויף דעם בית־עולם אונטער איין מצבֿה,

דאָרט הערט מען איין קול פֿון אײַן טויטער נקבֿה.

אוי וויי! דאָרט שרײַט אַ מוטער — אוי וויי איז מיר און ווינד!

וואָס וויל די שטיפֿמאַמע פֿון מײַן איין און אייציקן קינד?!

.

זי קומט אַהיים פֿון דער גאַס, די גרויסע מרשעת,

זי וואַרפֿט אים אַנידער, זי הייבט אים אויף,

זי צענעמט אים אַ יעדער גלידער.

.

אַבֿרהם, אַבֿרהם, דו ביסט געוועזן מײַן מאַן

דעם יתומלס פֿאָטער, אויך מן־הסתּם.

אוי וויי! צי איז דײַן הערץ פֿון אײַזן, און דו אַליין פֿון שטיין,

ווי( אַזוי) קענסטו פֿאַרנעמען דעם יתומלס געוויין?