Archive for Ukraine

“Oy sheyn bin ikh a mol gevezn” Performed by Leah (Lillian) Kolko

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2019 by yiddishsong

Oy sheyn bin ikh a mol gevezn / O, I Was Once Beautiful
Sung by Leah (Lillian) Kolko, recorded in Camp Boiberik, Rhinebeck, NY by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, 1974

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Leah Kolko remembers learning this song when active in the youth branch of the Poale-Zion organization in Paterson, New Jersey in the the early 1920s. The recording here was made at Camp Boiberik in 1974 by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman.

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Image by Tsirl Waletzky

The rhyme “trovern” [instead of troyern] and “movern” [instead of moyern] indicates the song has its origin in the Ukraine. but dialectically speaking, the song is inconsistent.

TRANSLITERATION

Oy sheyn bin ikh a mol gevezn.
[Oy] vi der morgn shtern hob ikh geshaynt.
oy, zint ikh hob zikh mit dir bakont,
oy, fun tog tsu tog ver ikh mer krank. 

Ikh hob gemeynt az af dayne reyd
[Oy] ken men shteln movern [moyern]
Tsum sof hostu mir mayn kop fardreyt,
az ikh hob tsu veynen un tsu trovern. 

Shpatsirn zaynen mir gegangen
ale shabes oyfn bulevar.
Oy, dayne reyd hob ikh gegloybt.
Oy, bin ikh geven a groyser nar.

Du vest zikh nokh a mol on mir dermonen,
vayl keyner hot dir nit azoy lib.
Oy, du vest forn un vest mikh zukhn,
nor ikh vel zayn shoyn fun lang in grib.

TRANSLATION

O, I was once beautiful.
O, like the morning star did I shine.
O, since I got to know you,
O, with each passing day I feel more ill. 

I thought that upon your words
I could build stone walls.
In the end you turned my head around
so that I cry and mourn. 

We used to take a walk
every Sabbath along the boulevard.
O, I believed in your words.
O, what a fool I was. 

Someday you will remember me
for no one loved you as much as I.
You will travel all over and will search me
but I will have long been in the grave.
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“Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern?” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2019 by yiddishsong

Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern? / How did I get so many tears?
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW), recorded by Leybl Kahn 1954, NYC

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Zwiniacze 040Zvinyetchke (Zwiniacza), Bukovina (now Ukraine),
hometown of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Another sad love song from the 1890s Bukovina repertoire of Lifshe Schaechter-Widman. This is not the only song in which she rhymes “shpekulirn” and “krapirn”, words which reflect her Austria-Hungarian upbringing. I have yet to find other versions or verses to the song.

Thanks to David Braun for help with this week’s post.

TRANSLITERATION

Vi nemt zikh tse mir azoy fil trern?
Tsi iz den mayn kop mit vaser fil?
Ven vet mayn veynen shoyn ofhern?
Ven vet mayn veytik shvaygn shtil?

Ikh heyb nor un mit dir tse shpekulirn
ver ikh krank un mid vi der toyt.
Oy, ver se shpilt a libe, der miz ying krapirn.
Geyn avek miz ikh fin der velt.

TRANSLATION

How did I get so many tears?
Is my head full of water?
When will my weeping cease?
When will my pain be silent.

When I just start to gamble with you,
I become deadly sick and tired.
O, whoever has a love affair will croak:
I have to leave this world.
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“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

Manger’s “Eynzam” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2019 by yiddishsong

Manger’s Eynzam/Lonesome (The Chernovitz Version)
Recorded and sung by Beyle Schachter-Gottesman, 1970s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

February 21, 2019 marked fifty years since the passing of the Yiddish poet Itzik Manger. He was born in Chernovitz (then Austria-Hungry) in 1901 and died in Gedera, Israel in 1969.

MangerTo honor this date, I found a recording of Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (my mother) singing Manger’s song Eynzam (Keyner veyst nisht vos ikh vil) with a different melody than is most commonly sung. Unfortunately, she is interrupted before the end of the song, and does not complete it.

My mother told me that when she sang the song once at a gathering in New York, Yetta Bickel, wife of the critic Shloyme Bickel, said to her “that is the melody of the song that Itzik Manger himself had sung in Romania.”

Attached are scans of the words with the more commonly heard melody as found in the Mir trogn a gezang song collection compiled by Eleanor (Chana) Gordon Mlotek, NY 1972, pages 162-163. This includes transliteration and lyrics in Yiddish.

I have not yet found another recording of this Chernovitz version.

From Mlotek, Mir trogn a gezang, 1972:

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“Zey, mayn kind” Performed by Khave Rosenblatt

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2019 by yiddishsong

Zey, mayn kind / See, my child
Performance by Khave Rosenblatt.
Recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, 1974, Jerusalem

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This curious song, I would venture to guess, comes from a musical play of the turn of the 20th century. It starts off as a critique of money (“Dos shtikele papir” – “that little scrap of paper”) but then becomes a quick review of how to keep a kosher home. It seems to address two separate aspects in the plot of a play.

100karbovantsevunr_r

100 Karbovantsiv note from the short-lived Ukrainian National Republic, 1917. Note the Yiddish text at bottom. 

Khave Rosenblatt is a wonderful singer and her style of performance reinforces the probable theatrical connection with this song. She sings in her Ukrainian Yiddish dialect that is called “tote-mome-loshn” [father-mother-language], because the “a” sound becomes “o”. For example in the first line she sings “faronen” instead of “faranen”.  As always in this blog her dialect is reflected in the transliteration, not the Yiddish transcription.

A reader asked Chana and Yosl Mlotek about this song in their Forverts column Leyner demonen zikh (Readers Remember) on June 23, 1974 but they could find no additional information. The reader remembered only the first four lines beginning with “Her oys mayn zun” (“Listen my son”).  In the original recording, Rosenblatt says before she sings that “the song is known, but I have never heard anyone sing it”.

Rosenblatt also sang this song for Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and that recording is found on the website of the National Library of Israel (listen for the first song at 2:16).

Special thanks for this week’s post to David Braun for help in deciphering the text.

TRANSLITERATION

Zey, man kind, s’iz faronen af der velt
a shtikele papir.
Se git a numen urem in gevir.
Se makht groys far kleyn
narunim far yakhsunim.
shoyte far klige
in khakhumim far meshige.

Derkh dir harget eyner ’em tsveytn.
In derkh dir kriminaln, arestantn in keytn.
derkh dir geyt eyner di moske farkert.
Di oygn farglentst
in di pleytses farkrimt.
In vus far a maskirn iz alts tsulib dir
kedey ustsirasn bam tsveytn
dus shtikele papir.

Oy, zey man kind, zolst dikh firn bikshire.
Zolst nit zan keyn gozlen
in keyn yires-shomaimdike tsire.
In zolst nisht klopn “ushamni”
in nit tin vu’ di vilst.
Zolst nisht farglentsn mit di eygelekh
in zolst nit ganvenen keyn gelt.

Derof  shray ikh gevold
a’ dus iz user
Eyder tsi makhn fin treyfe kusher
in fin kusher treyfes.

Tepl in lefl tsim ruv gey derval
oyf deym ribl freygt keyner keyn shales.
Fleysh veygt men oys
in me zoltst es oys.
A ey mit a blitstropn varft men aroys.
Derim darf’n oykh dem ribl  oykh git boydek tsi zayn
Se zol in deym ribl keyn fremder blitstrop aran.

TRANSLATION

See my child, how there is in this world
a little piece of paper.
It marks the poor and the wealthy.
It turns  great ones into small ones,
foolish ones into privileged ones,
idiots into brilliant ones,
the wise into crazy ones.

Because of you one kills the other,
and because of you criminals, convicts walk in chains.
Because of you one’s mask is upside-down,
the eyes are rolled up, the shoulders hunched up.
And any masquerading is all because of you –
to tear away from another
that little piece of paper.

Oh, see my child, that you should lead a proper life.
You should neither be a robber,
nor walk around with a God-fearing mug.
Don’t beat your heart “we are guilty”,
and don’t do whatever you want.
Don’t roll your eyes,
and don’t steal any money.

Therefore I shout help
that this is forbidden;
to make something kosher from unkosher,
and from kosher something unkosher.

For a spoon in a pot go ask the Rabbi,
but about the heating stove, no one ever asks any questions.
Meat should be soaked and salted.
An egg with a blood drop should be thrown out.
But the heating stove should be well inspected
So no outside blood drop should fall into it.

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“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

tsudek1

tsudek2

tsudek3