Archive for Ukraine

“Reb Tsudek” Performed by Itzik Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2018 by yiddishsong

Reb Tsudek
Sung by Itzik Gottesman, recorded Nov 2018, Austin TX

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I was asked to post the song “Reb Tsudek” as sung by the Yiddish poet Martin Birnbaum. He sang it to Michael Alpert and me in 1984-85 in NYC.  But, alas, I cannot find the original recording so I have recorded it myself.

Birnbaum was born in 1905 in Horodenke when it was Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Now it is in the Ukraine  – Horodenka. According to a NY Times obituary he came to the US in 1923 and died in 1986. In the YIVO Institute’s Ruth Rubin Legacy Archive, Birnbaum sings four songs but not this one. Those recordings were done in 1964.

I believe there is more Yiddish folklore to be discovered about this shlimazel (bad luck) character Reb Tsudek. When I asked the Yiddish poet Yermye Hescheles about him he affirmed that there was such a comic figure in Galicia, where both he and Birnbaum were from.

The song mocks the Hasidic lifestyle – absurd devotion to the rebbe, irresponsibility, staying poor. The word “hiltay” – defined by the dictionaries as “libertine” “skirt-chaser” “scoundrel” – is really a cue that this is a 19th century maskilic, anti-Hasidic, song. The word is often used in such songs. The humor also hinges on the double meaning of tsimbl both as a musical instrument (a hammered dulcimer) and as a verb – “to thrash or scold someone”.

couple tsimblA tsimblist, about to be thrashed by his wife.
(courtesy Josh Horowitz)

In the song two towns are mentioned: Nay Zavalek remains a mystery but Grudek, west of Lviv, is Grodek in Polish and Horodok in Ukrainian.

Here is a clip of Michael Alpert singing  the song, with Pete Rushefsky on tsimbl, Jake Shulman-Ment on violin and Ethel Raim singing at the Smithsonian Folkife Festival in Washington D.C.,  2013:

TRANSLITERATION

Fort a yid keyn Nay-zavalek,
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Fort a yid tsu zayn rebn – Reb Tsudek.
Tsudek iz a yid, a lamden.
Er hot a boykh a tsentn,
Un s’iz bakant, az er ken shpiln
of ale instrumentn.

Shpilt er zikh derbay (2x)

Fort a yid keyn Nay-zavalek
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!
Fort a yid keyn Nay-Zavalek
direkt bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!

Un Reb Tsudek, er zol lebn,
hot gehat a gutn shabes.
Tsudek hot gekhapt shirayem,
mit beyde labes.
Aheymgebrakht hot er zayn vaybl
a zhmenye meyern-tsimes.
Un dertsu, oy vey iz mir,
a tsimbl un strines.

“Hiltay vus iz dus!” (2x)

Oy hot zi getsimblt Tsudek
fun Zavalek bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!
Oy hot zi getsimblt Tsudek
fun Zavalek bizn in Grudek.
Oy vey z’mir tatenyu!

TRANSLATION

A man travels to Nay-Zavalek,
directly until Grudek.
The man is traveling to his rabbi,
Mister Tsudek.
Tsudek is a learned man,
and has a belly that weighs ten tons.
And everyone knows that he can play
on all the instruments.

So he plays as he travels –

A man travels to Nay-Zavalek
directly until Grudek,
Oh my, dear God!
A man travels to Nay-Zavalek
directly until Grudek,
Oh my, dear God!

And Reb Tsudek, may he be well,
had a good Sabbath.
Tsudek caught the Rebbe’s holy leftovers
with both paws [large, rough hands].
For his wife he brought home
a handful of carrot – tsimmes,
and in addition – oh no! –
a tsimbl with no strings.

Scoundrel! what is this? (2x)

Boy did she thrash Tsudek
from Zavalek until Grudek
Oh my, dear God.
Boy did she thrash Tsudek
from Zavalek unti Grudek
Oh my, dear God

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“Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2018 by yiddishsong

Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner / I am a Small Gypsy (Rom) Lad
Pre-war version from Chernovitz, Romania.
Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG]
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center, Bronx 1980s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The more popular song version of this poem by Itzik Manger (1901 – 1969) was composed by Hertz Rubin (1911 – 1958) and has been recorded by at least thirteen artists. According to Chana and Yosl Mlotek in Songs of Generations, the singer Masha Benya received that version from Manger’s widow Genia Manger after the second world war in NY.

MangerItzik Manger in his Chernovitz days, 1920s

But this earlier version has a different melody, and slightly different words without the “Ekh du fidele du mayn” refrain. BSG learned this song in Chernovitz, which was Romania between the world wars and is now in the Ukraine.

Manger’s lyrics carry a number of commonly-held negative stereotypes about Romany (Gypsy) culture. However, considering the time in which he was writing, through first-person narration, Manger creates a sympathetic window into the challenges faced by Roma including poverty, oppression, and a sense of otherness as a minority community. The ever-wandering Manger, no doubt, felt like a kindred spirit.

In the Ruth Rubin Legacy: Archive of Yiddish Folksongs at YIVO, Sore Kessler sings this Chernovitz version and explains she learned it from the Yiddish poet M. M. Shaffir in Montreal. Shaffir was also from the Bukovina region (not Bessarabia as Kessler says in her spoken introduction), and a friend of BSG. Some of Kessler’s text differs and she sings a verse that BSG does not:

Shtendik zaynen mir af vegn,
mir af vegn.
Say bay nakht,
un say in regn.

Always are we travelling,
travelling [on the roads.]
Both at night
and in the rain.

Accordionist Mishka Zignaoff (who was a Yiddish-speaking Russian Rom musician based in New York) recorded the melody as Galitzianer khosid (Galician Hasid) in a medley with the famous Reb Dovidl’s nign.

I am posting this song to mark Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s 5th yortsayt (1920 – 2013) which falls on the second candle of khanike.

BeyleItzikTapes2Beyle and Itzik Gottesman looking over Yiddish field recordings, 1970s.

TRANSLITERATION

BSG Spoken: [Itzik Manger] iz geveyn maner a landsman, un hot geredt Yidish vi ekh. Vel ikh zingen in durem-yidish azoy vi er hot geredt. “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” un di lider vus ikh zing zenen a bisele, tsi mul, andersh vi ir zingt zey, val ikh ken zey nokh fun der heym.

1) Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner, gur a kleyner
ober vi ir zeyt a sheyner.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Ikh veys nisht vi ikh bin geboyrn, bin geboyrn.
Di mame hot mikh in steppe farloyrn
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

2) Dem tatn hot men oyfgehongen, oyfgehongen
Vayl er iz ganvenen gegangen
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Burves, hingerik un freylekh, ober freylekh
Fil ikh zikh vi a ben-meylekh.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

3) In mayn lidl kent ir hern, kent ir hern
Mayn tatns zifts, mayn mames trern.
Tra-La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

S’kost in gantsn nor a drayer, nor eyn drayer.
S’iz mayn veytik gurnisht tayer.
Trala-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

TRANSLATION

BSG Spoken: “[Itzik Manger] was from the same city as me and spoke Yiddish as I do. So I will sing in the southern Yiddish that he spoke.  “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” and the other songs that I will sing are a little different than the way you sing them because I learned them form home.”

I’m a small Gypsy lad, a very small Gypsy lad,
But as you see good-looking.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

I don’t know where I was born, was born.
My mother lost me somewhere in the Steppes.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

They hanged my father, hanged my father
Because he went thieving.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Barefoot, hungry and merry, always merry.
I feel like a prince.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

In my song you can hear, can hear
My father’s sigh, my mother’s tears.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

It will only cost you three kopecks.
My suffering doesn’t cost much at all.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la
tsigaynerl 1

tsigaynerl 2

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“Lomir ale in eynem marshirn” Performed by Beyle Schaechter Gottesman

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

Lomir ale in eynem marshirn / Let’s All March Together
Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (BSG), recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Bronx, 2010.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

BSG Picnic

Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman on a picnic outside of Chernovitz with friends, mid 1930s. Probably from the group leftist Zionist group Hashomer Hatzair.

A Yiddish school song that Beyle Schaechter Gottesman learned in Chernovitz, Romania, later 1920s, early 1930s either in the Bundist Morgnroyt school or the more leftist Der yidisher shul-fareyn.

TRANSLITERATION

Lomir ale in eynem marshirn
Af di felder shpatsirn azoy — eyns, tsvey.
Lomir ale in eynem zikh rirn
Af di veygn zikh rirn azoy – eyns, tsvey

Purlekh, purlekh geshlosene reyen;
in der mit zol keyner nisht zan.
Lomir geyn in geshlosene reyen,
Lomir geyn, lomir geyn, lomir geyn.

TRANSLATION

Let’s all march together
In the fields, let’s go this way – one, two.
Let’s all move together;
on the roads let’s move – one, two.

As couples let us close ranks,
no one should remain in the middle.
Let’s close ranks,
Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.

Lomir Yiddish

“Es hot geshneyet un geregnt” Performed by Esther Gold

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2018 by yiddishsong

Es hot geshneyet un geregnt (Dos borvese meydele)
It was Snowing and Raining (The Barefoot Girl)
text by Morris Rosenfeld, sung by Esther Gold
Recorded by Dr. Diane Gold in 1983 in Massachusetts

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week’s recording  was sent to me by Joe (Yosl) Kurland, Yiddish singer, songwriter, teacher  based in Western Massachusetts. It was recorded by the singer’s granddaughter Diane Gold so that Kurland could sing it at the bar-mitsve of her three sons.

As one can tell from this moving performance, the song meant a lot to Esther Gold since she had learned it from her father in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. Esther Gold (1900 – 1984) was born in Bryansk, Russia (southwest of Moscow) and came to New York in 1906.

gold pic 1Esther Gold (center) with parents & brothers 

Kurland realized that she sang the song to the same melody as David Edelshtadt’s song In kamf (Mir zaynen gehast un getribn) and combined the two at the bar-mitsves.

The text is by the great “sweatshop poet” Morris Rosenfeld and can be found in Volume II of his Shriftn (Writings). We are attaching the poem from that 1912 publication where it is called Tsu a borvose meydl – To a Barefoot Girl.

The original poem has twelve verses, Esther Gold sings nine. I have transcribed the words as Gold sings them which are incredibly accurate compared to the original. On occasion I have put in brackets the original word or phrase as found in Rosenfeld’s poem if different. The singer forgets one line in verse eight and I have put the original text in its place.

Significantly, the order of the last three verses differs from Rosenfeld’s. She ends the poem with the verse that suggests the barefoot girl could become a prostitute. A very powerful ending indeed. But the poet placed that verse third from the end, and concludes with Gold’s verse seven in which he worries about his own child.

Esther husband babyEsther Gold with her husband Isador (“Izzie”) and son H. Carl (“Chaim”) Gold (Carl is Diane Gold’s father).

Diane Gold writes about her grandmother, Esther Gold and about the song:

Our Grandma Esther was born in Bryansk (Russia), the daughter of Dina and Elhanan (Harris) Scheinin, and young sister to Eddie (Aaron) and Joe. I believe there was another sibling who died in childhood. Her grandmother came from Starodub and her grandfather came from Kriemenchuck (Kremenchuk, Ukraine). The birthdate she was given when they arrived at Ellis Island in 1906 was January 1, 1900. She died on December 28, 1984.

Harris, who was a fine tailor in Russia, came by ship to NYC in 1906, a little earlier in the year than Dina (a midwife) and the children. My father Carl, who grew up in the same household as his grandfather, remembers Harris as a gentle man with high principals who insisted that Carl never put his hands behind his back, as it was important not to be hiding things from people. Harris insisted on looking for fine tailoring work and according to the family was injured demonstrating against sweated labor and even against union leaders who were in league with the bosses. Not surprisingly he had trouble finding work, and this made for tensions and sadness in the family. He banned Esther from working in garment factories.

Esther learned the Borvese meydl song as a girl by his side at home, and I imagine him singing to her as he sewed and pressed clothing. The words of this song were real to him, I am certain. He worried about the fate of his children, and children who were even worse off than his immediate family. I am not surprised, given his politics and background that the version of the song he shared with Esther was put to the tune of In Kamf. 

The siblings worked as children and teenagers.  Dina berated Joe for selling newspapers and chewing gum, but took the money. As a teenager Esther, who must have been a gay flapper with a love of show tunes, got a job splicing film at Universal Studios in New York, where she met our grandfather Isador Gold, who was a photographer in Europe in WWI and did some of the first silent film newsreels. Living under the magnifying glass of the demanding and bewildered older generation, that marriage sadly fell apart and my dad grew up without a father, with his mom in his grandparents’ household. For a while Esther kept the books (and I think the accounts) for our great-uncle Joe, who eventually flourished financially in the New York cement business. Then, from when I was little, I remember Esther was a “salesgirl” in the girl’s department at B. Altman’s, living alone after her parents died in her rent controlled apartment at 110 Post Avenue. She only moved to be with us in Newington, Connecticut in the last years of her life, with no savings or pension after years of work, after she became blind. She was a petit determined intelligent loving grandma harboring memories damping her capacity for joy, which bubbled up when she talked about her girlfriends, when she dressed us in the finest clothes from Altman’s, when she kvelled at our accomplishments or when she sang.

Thanks to Joe (Yosl) Kurland, and Dr. Diane Gold and family.

TRANSLITERATION

1) Es hot dort geshneyt un geregnt
un geyendik shnel durkhn gas.
A meydele hob ikh bagegnt
halb naket un borves un nas.

2) Zi hot mit di nakete fislekh
gepatsht dem fargosenem bruk.
Un epes azoy vi fardrislekh
geshaynt hot ir kindisher kuk.

3) Kleyn meydele zog mir vu geystu?
Durkh regn, durkh shney un durkh kelt?
Zog mir mayn kind tsi farshteystu
vi iberik du bist oyf der velt?

4) Di velt velkhe lozt dir do zukhn
a lebn durkh elnt un leyd.
Un vil dayne fis nit bashukhn
nit haltn dayn guf in ayn [a] kleyd.

5) Zog, zaynen dir fremd di gefiln?
Tsi falt gor nit ayn der gedank,
ven du zolst zikh itstert farkiln
dan falstu avek un bist krank.

6) Ver vet dir damols kurirn?
Ver vet far dir epes ton?
Di velt velkhe lozt dir farfrirn,
Der Got velkher kukt [dir] nit on?

7) Derfar muz ikh veynen un klogn.
Es ken eykh zayn mit mayn kind
ven mir (mikh) zoln tsores dershlogn,
un ir zol farvarfn der vint.

8) Derfar muz ikh veynen un klogn.
Derfar heyb ikh uf a geshrey.
Derfar (nor, yo, volt ikh dikh kishn)
Tsu helfn tsu shtiln mayn (dayn) vey.

9) Dayn borveskeyt, kind, dayne trern
dayn geyn un nit visn a vu.
veys ikh, vos es ken vern
fun meydlekh, azelkhe vi du.

TRANSLATION

1) It was snowing and raining,
and while walking down the street,
I encountered a girl
half naked, barefoot and wet.

2) With her bare feet
she slapped the pavings stones.
And, in what looked like regret,
her childlike appearance shone.

3) Little girl, tell me where you’re going
in this rain, through the snow and cold
Tell me my child, do you understand
how superfluous you are in this world?

4) The world that lets you search here
for a lonely suffering life.
And does not want to shoe your feet
and not clothe your body in a dress.

5) Tell me, do you have these feelings
or does it not occur to you,
that if you were to catch cold here,
you’d be struck down and be sick.

6) Who would then heal you?
Who would do something for you?
The world that lets you freeze?
The God who does not even look at you?

7) Therefore I must cry and lament:
it could also happen to my child;
when sorrows would depress me,
and the wind would blow her far away.

8) Therefore I must weep and lament;
Therefore I raise up a cry.
Therefore, yes,  [I would kiss you ]
to help you quiet my [your] pain.

9) You being barefoot, child, your tears,
your wandering not knowing where;
I know what could become
of girls such as you.

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Below is Tsu a borvose meydl – To a Barefoot Girl, from Shriftn (Writings), Vol. II, pp. 143-145 by Morris Rosenfeld (1912, New York):

mrosenfeld1mrosenfeld2.jpeg<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-4273" src="https://yiddishsong.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/mrosenfeld3-e1540485244566.jpeg&quot; alt="mrosenfeld3" width="564" height="186" /

“Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg: Performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2018 by yiddishsong

Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg / When the Holy Sukkoth Days Arrive
Performance by Khave Rosenblatt, Recorded by Beyle Gottesman, Jerusalem 1975

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

I have not yet found an author/composer of this song but to my mind, it hearkens back to the Broder zingers, the Singers of Brody, the Jewish wandering performers of comic, parodic skits and songs of the nineteenth century. Khave Rosenblatt remembered that she learned the song in Chernovitz, the capital of Bukovina where the Broder Singers often performed in the wine cellars. She also recalled hearing it sung by the Yiddish writer, critic Shloyme Bikl. Rosenblatt’s stellar interpretation turns this song into a little masterpiece.

The motif of a goat eating the covering on the roof of the sukkah is most famously known through Sholem-Aleichem’s short story “Shoyn eyn mol a sukkah” [What a sukkah!], in the volume Mayses far yidishe kinder [Tales for Jewish children].

MayerJuly

Sukkot, Opatów (Apt), Poland, 1920s, as remembered by Mayer Kirshenblatt 

This is the third song of Khave Rosenblatt that we have posted from the recording session with Beyle Gottesman and a couple of more will be added later. At the same time as this recording (1975/1976) Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett recorded Rosenblatt for the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife Research in preparation for the Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife in 1976 in D.C. This recording can be found on the website of the National Library of Israel (search: חוה רוזנבלט ). Israel was the featured country for the “Old Ways” in the New World section at the festival.

Special thanks to David Braun and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett for this week’s post.

TRANSLITERATION

Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teyg
kimt mir afn rayen.
Vi s’hot farmosert indzer sikele
Reb Shloymele der dayen.

Oy, az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg
kimt mir afn rayen.
Vi s’hot geosert indzer sikele
Reb Shloymele der dayen.

Oy indzer dayen indzerer –
a lekhtiker gan-eydn im.
Hot eymetser farmosert
az in indzer sike indzerer gefoln tsifil zinen-shayn, nu?
Hot er zi geosert.

A sike, zugt er, an emes kusher yidishe
darf zayn a tinkele, darf zayn a fintsere
eyn shtral lekht makht nit oys.
Ober di zin zol shaynen khitspedik?! – fe!
Si’z gurnit yidish.

Az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg
kimt mir afn rayen,
ven se heybt zikh on dos shpiln nis
in hoyf bay Yankl-Shayen

Oy, az se kimen un di heylike sikes-teg
volt geveyn a khayes,
ven me lozt indz nor tsiri
in hoyf bay Yankl-Shayes.

A yid, a beyzer, vu’ dus iz.
S’geyt im on, me shpilt in nis.
Hot er zikh lib tsi krign.
Staytsh! Me shpilt zikh far zayn tir
un krimt zikh nokh zayn shnir
vus nokh?
Men izbovet im di tsign.

“Un tsign” zugt er “tur men nisht zatshepenen
in di yontif-teg deroyf
ven di sike shteyt in mitn hoyf.
A hint, a kots topn di vont
ober a tsig!?
Aza min vilde zakh vus shtshipet un
dem gantsn skhakh
un lozt di sike un a dakh!
Fe! Hiltayes! Nit zatshepen!

TRANSLATION

When the holy Sukkoth days arrive,
this is what comes to mind –
How our sukkah was denounced
by Reb Shloymele the rabbi’s assistant.

When the Holy Sukkoth days arrive
this is what comes to mind –
How are sukkah was deemed unkosher
by Reb Shloymele the rabbi’s assistant.

Oy, our rabbi’s assistant,
may he have a bright paradise.
Someone denounced our sukkah to him because
too much sunshine fell inside, nu?
So he deemed it unkosher.

“A sukkah” says he “a true, kosher Jewish one
should be dark, should be dim.
One ray of light doesn’t matter
but if the sun should impudently shine in – Fe!
That’s not the Jewish way at all.”

When the holy Sukkoth days arrive,
this is what comes to mind –
The beginning of playing nuts
in the yard of Yankl-Shaye.

Oy, when the holy Sukkoth days arrive,
We could have had so much fun,
if they would only leave us alone
in the yard of Yank-Shaye.

A mean man (what’s the matter with him?!)
that gets upset when we play nuts,
and likes to quarrel with us.
“What’s going on!? Playing nuts on my doorstep
and mocking my daughter-in-law”
What else?
We were ruining his goats.

“And goats” he says “should not be bothered
during the holidays especially when
the sukkah is standing in the middle of the yard.
A dog, a cat will just touch the walls but a goat!
Such a wild thing that grazes
on the covering on the roof.
Fe!  You with no morals, leave them alone!”

sike1sike2sike3

“Mayn tayer mimele” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2018 by yiddishsong

Mayn tayer mimele / My Dear Auntie
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman [LSW], recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This is a timely song for Elul (beginning August 11-12) since it is mentioned in the first line. Elul leads up to the high holidays and is a serious time of reflection. Mimele (Auntie), it is implied, takes advantage of this charity giving time to rake in some charity for herself.

After the recording of the song, in the brief dialogue with the interviewer Kahn, LSW says she heard it about 50 years ago (around the turn of the 20th century) from older women – her mother or her aunts. She adds that it is not a children’s song and not a theater song. “In our town we hadn’t yet heard about the theater.”

zvinyace

Lifshe Schaechter-Widman’s shtetl Zvinyetshke in the Bukovina

The Galician songwriter Nokhem Sternheim (1879 – 1942) wrote a popular song Mayn tayere Malkele which was recorded by Miriam Kressyn, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Salomon Klezmorim, Jane Peppler and Noel Akchote. The story behind the Sternheim song is told in Norman Salsitz’s memoirs Three Homelands: Memoirs of Jewish Life in Poland, Israel and America.

The melody also is similar to Dos kishinever shtikele made famous by Moyshe Oysher and recorded by others. The first part of the melody was also played by klezmorim. Dave Tarras includes it in his medley called Kishinev on the CD Dave Tarras: Master of the Jewish Clarinet produced by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance.

But in terms of folksong, a version of the Tayer mimele entitled Tayer Yankele with a similar melody and storyline (Yankl is a thief) appears in Menachem Kipnis’ collection 70 folkslider, Warsaw, 1920. A scan of that is attached; evidence that Sternheim based his song on the earlier folksong.

TRANSLITERATION:

Ver fleyg geyn rosh-khoydesh Elul mit di pishkes?
Mayn tayer mimele.
Ver fleyg bam katsev ganvenen di kishkes?
Mayn tayer mimele.

Eyn mul hot zi der tate gekhapt.
Mayn tayer Mimele.
Oy hot er geshlugn, oy hot er geklapt!
Mayn tayer Mimele.

TRANSLATION:

Who used to go around the first day of Elul with a charity box (pushke)?
My dear auntie.
Who used to steal the cow’s intestines from the butcher?
My dear auntie.

Once her father caught her.
My dear auntie.
Oy did he beat her, oy did he hit her.
My dear auntie.
mimele1
mimele2
Tayer Yankele
in Menachem Kipnis’ collection 70 folkslider, Warsaw, 1920:

mimele70amimele70b

“Der nakhtvekhter” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2018 by yiddishsong

Der nakhtvekhterThe Night Watchman
Words by Avrom Reyzen, performance by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, 1980s Bronx

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

Beyle Schaechter Gottesman (BSG) remembers learning this song in Jewish school in Chernovitz, Romania in the 1930s. She attended two schools: the Morgnroyt, a Bundist (socialist) school, every day after Romanian public school. On Sundays she attended the Yidisher shul-fareyn which was more left. She remembers learning Nakhtvekhter  at the Morgnroyt school.

Nightwatchman 4 The words are by Avrom Reyzen (1876 – 1953), a beloved Yiddish writer whose poetry was often turned into song.  In Reisin’s volume of selected poetry (Di lider, 1951) he placed this poem among his earliest, so we can assume it was written around the turn of the century.  We are attaching a scan of the words as they appear in that volume. BSG’s version varies slightly.  When she repeats the last two lines of each verse, she corrects herself twice when she felt she had sung those lines incorrectly the first time.

I have not found any recordings yet. Paul Lamkoff composed a different melody to the poem and it can be heard at the Milken Archive of Jewish Music.


Der nakhtvekhter

Shpeyt di nakht iz kalt in fintster.
Neypldik in nas.
In di hayzer ruen ale
shtil un toyt in gas
In di hayzer ruen ale
toyt in shtim in gas.

Elnt shlept zikh nokh der vekhter
of der gas arim.
in di shtile hayzer kikt er
troyerik in shtim.
In di shtile hayzer kikt er
troyerik in shtim.

Dort in veykhn varem betl
shluft zikh azoy git.
Oy, vi voltn mayne beyner
Dort zikh oysrerit.
Oy, vi voltn mayne beyner
Dort zikh oysrerit.

In er klugt zikh farn himl –
zey mayn troyer tsi!
Ikh aleyn hob gornisht, hit ikh
yenems shluf un ri.
Ikh aleyn hob gornisht, hit ikh
yenems gits un ri.

The Night Watchman

Late at night, it’s cold and dark,
foggy and wet.
In the houses all are resting
Silent and dead on the street.
In the houses all are resting
dead and silent on the street.

Alone, the watchman drags himself
along the street.
He looks into the quiet houses
sadly and silently.
He looks into the quiet houses
sadly and silently.

There in a soft warm bed
one sleeps so well.
Oh, how my bones would
love to rest there.
Oh, how my bones would
love to rest there.

And he laments to the heavens –
witness my sorrow!
I myself have nothing, so I guard
another’s sleep and rest.
I myself have nothing, so I watch
another’s goods and rest.

nakhtvekhter