Archive for Velvl Zbarzher

“Berl der alter shiker” Performed by Janie Respitz

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The singer Janie Respitz  is a Yiddish educator and singer from Montreal. Janie incorporates her singing in her lectures and shares her passion and knowledge of Yiddish folklore with her concert audiences.

As she states at the beginning of this video-recording made in Montreal, July 2017, she learned Berl der alter shiker (Berl the Old Drunk) from the late Max Satin, a resident in the Jewish Geriatric Hospital in Montreal.


Berl der alter shiker is similar to a previous post Shtey ikh mir in ayn vinkele sung by Itka Factorovich Sol.  Respitz’s song is closer to the version found in Skuditski 1936 Monopol, monopol (scan of page attached) but the drunk does not have the conversation with the moon.

In his article Geyt a yid in shenkl arayn: Yiddish Songs of Drunkeness (Field of Yiddish: Fifth Collection, 1993), Robert A. Rothstein analyzes versions of the song and points out that the verse about the wife drinking the whiskey all up is from Velvl Zbarzher’s poem Der shiker (The Drunk) found in his Makel No’am  מקל נועם Vol. 3, Lemberg 1873. Shmuel-Zanvil Pipe also pointed this out in YIVO-bleter, 1939 (vol. 14: 339-667)  Perhaps we should consider the whole text a folklorized Zbarzher song?

TRANSLITERATION / TRANSLATION

“Hi, I’m Jamie Respitz. I learn this from the late Max Satin, a resident in the Jewish Geriatric Hospital, here in Montreal a number of years ago.”

Fun zint der monopol iz af der velt
bin ikh af im in kas.
Es kost mikh op a mayontik mit gelt
un ikh trink azoy vi fun a fas.
Ikh nem dos fleshele in mayne hent
un ikh klap dem koretsl aroys,
tsebrekht zikh dos fleshele in mayne hent
un der bronfn gist aroys.
Ay-ay-day-day….

Haynt vel ikh mit mayn vaybele zikh tsekrign
Zi vet nokh hobn tsu gedenken.
Vifl mol ikh hob ir shoyn farshvign.
Haynt vel ikh ir nisht shenken.
Kh’ob genumen dos fleshele mit bronfn.
Geleygt hob im tsukopns.
Se khapt zikh oyf di ployneste baynakht,
un zi trinkt es oys bizn letstn tropn.
Ay-ay-day-day

Oy vey, reboyne-shel-oylem.
Du bist dokh a hartsiker rikhter.
Zol shtendik regenen mit bronfn un mit bir.
Ikh vil keyn mol nisht zayn nikhter.
Af mayn keyver zol zayn ongegosn.
Mit bronfn un mit bir.
Dos iz bay mir der iker.
Un af mayn matseyve zol sshteyn ongeshribn –
“do ligt Berl der alter shiker.”
Ay-day-day…

do ligt Berl der alter shiker.

Since the “monopol” [Czarist controlled liquor stores/pubs] is in the world
I am angry at it.
It costs me a fortune of money
and I drink as if from a barrel.
I take the bottle in my hand
and knock the cork out.
The bottle breaks in my hand
and the whiskey pours out.
Ay-day-day…

Today I will argue with my wife.
She will have what to remember [she will pay for it]
So many times I have told her to shut up
Today I will not spare her.
I took the bottle of booze
Put it at my head.
My wife wakes up at night
and drinks it all to the last drop.
Ay-day-day

O Master of the universe
you are a compassionate judge.
Let it always rain whiskey and beer
So I won’t ever have to be sober.
On my grave let them pour
whiskey and beer,
and on my gravestone it should be written –
“Here lay Berl the old drunk.”
Ay-day-day

Here lay Berl the old drunk. ​
Respitz1Respitz2respitz3

Monopol, monopol in Skuditski 1936:

monopol1monopol2

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“Di apikorsim” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Di apikorsim (“The Heretics”) was the first song that Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) sang for collector Leybl Kahn in NYC in 1954. He recorded approximately 100 songs sung by LSW over the next few weeks or months. LSW is my grandmother and the child one hears in the background is my then 4-year old sister Taube. At one point during her singing, she gets up and runs after her. The spoken dialogue between LSW and Kahn is transcribed in the Yiddish text.

In Shloyme Prizament’s book Di broder zinger (Buenos-Aires, 1960), he has a version of this song with the music on pages 110-112. He writes that he wrote the words and music, and states that Pepi Litman recorded it. There is indeed a recording of Pepi Litman performing the song. This book can now be read and downloaded at the Yiddish Book Center website.

Shloyme Prizament was born in 1889 in Hibinev, Galicia and died in Buenos-Aires in 1973; his biography appears in the third volume of the “Leksikon fun yidishn teater”, pages 1873- 1876. Prizament was an amazingly prolific composer, songwriter, but I am not convinced that he wrote the song that LSW performs. The more likely scenario, in my opinion, is that he based his song on the popular current version that LSW sings.

The song itself, a maskilic song mocking the Hasidim but sung in the voice of true believers, was a common genre. However, in Apikorsim the humor is quite vulgar. In songs such as “Kum aher du filosof” the irony is much more subtle. Ruth Rubin’s book Voices of a People has a nice section on maskilic songs (chapter 10). Rubin also prints Velvl Zbarzher’s song “Moshiakh’s tsaytn” (pp. 255 – 257) which is on the same theme as di apikorsim.

A couple of comments on the words and rhymes of Apikorsim: “Daytshn” literally means “Germans”, but in the Yiddish of the 19th century, early 20th century, it referred to the Maskilim, the Jews who were assimilating and dressing like Germans – that is, as modern Europeans.

You will also hear that in the refrain which begins “Folgts daytshn…” there is no rhyme for gikh. LSW sings sheyn. The implied rhyme should be rikh – the devil, and my mother remembers LSW singing it vet ir oyszen vi a layt or oyszen vi a rikh so i put those options in brackets. The listener would have understood the implied rhyme gikh and rikh.

Di apikorsim, di voyle-yingen
es vet in zey ale trasken lingen
zey veln ale tsepiket vern
ven zey veln shoyfer-shel-moshiakh derhern.

The heretics, those loose fellows, 
Their lungs will all rattle.
They will burst apart,
when they hear the shofar of the messiah.

Far kol-rom vet vern gehert
der rebe vet lernen toyre.
Di apikorsim veln faln tsu dr’erd
far shrek un far moyre.

Loudly for all, it will be heard
the rebbe will teach Torah.
the heretics will fall to the ground,
out of fear and alarm.

Folgts datshn mekh,
un verts khasidemlekh gikh.
Tits un a yeyder yidishe kleyder
vet ir oyszen sheyn [vi a layt] [vi a rikh]/

Listen to me Germans [assimilated Jews]
and become Hasidim quickly.
Each of you dress in Jewish clothes,
so you will appear – beautiful [vi a layt – presentable] [vi a rikh – like a demon]

Hop, hop, yadadada, yadadalakh
hop, hop, yah……hop, hop, yadalala

Hop, hop, yadadada, yadadalakh
hop, hop, yah……hop, hop, yadalala

Eyner vet esn tsimes-kigl,
eyner a shtikl beylik,
eyner dem kigl, un eyner dem fligl,
un di rebetsin – dos interkheylik.

One will eat a tsimes-kugl
another a piece of white chicken meat.
For one a kugl, for another a wing,
and for the rebetsin – the bottom part.

Mir veln pikn fun dem rikn,
mir veln nisht ofhern,
Di sonim veln shteyn fun der vaytns [un kikn,]
un tsepiket vern.

We will gnaw on the backside,
and we will not stop.
Our enemies will stand from a distance [and watch].
And burst from envy.

Folgst daytshn…..
hop, hop….

Listen to me Germans…
Hop, hop….

Eyner vet esn a tsimes-kigl,
eyner a shtikl beylik
eyner a fligkl, dem andern dem kigl,
un di rebetsin – dos interkheylik.

One will eat a tsimes-kugel
one a piece of white meat.
One a wing, another the kugel,
and the rebetsin – the bottom part.

Vayn vet rinen fun di stelyes
af der rebetsin aleyn veln vaksn drelyes,
Mir, heylike kushere khsidim
veln hobn vos tsu lekn.

Wine will flow from the ceilings,
grapevines will even grow on the rebbetzin.
We holy and kosher hasidim
will have what to lick.

Af deym bal, in deytm groysn zal,
talmidim, khsidim,
rabonim, dayonim
veln mit undz tantsn geyn.

At the ball,
in the great hall,
yeshiva-students, Jewish judges,
will all dance with us.

Hop, hop…

Hop, hop.

“Der heyliker moshiakh” Performed by Josh Waletzky

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2012 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week’s Yiddish Song of the Week features a performance of Der heyliker moshiakh (The Holy Messiah) by New York-based Yiddish singer Josh Waletzky, recorded at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance on January 28, 2011. The song is from Waletzky’s family repertoire (his family referred to it as “The Name Song”); Ruth Rubin collected the song from Waletzky during her fieldwork at Camp Boiberik.

Josh Waletzky

I have attached a variant of this song as found in Noyekh Prilutski‘s collection Yidishe folkslider volume one, Warsaw, 1914. Number 61 (pages 90 – 91). There is no melody given in Prilutski‘s volume, so thanks to Waltezky we have one now!

Der heyliker moshiakh is a great example of a maskilic Yiddish song (composed by Jews who were adherents of the Jewish Enlightenment movement, the Haskalah) in which the irony of the song was confusing or lost to the ‟folk‟, and in this case, to the Maskil as well, Noyekh Prilutski. See his comment on the bottom of the attached Yiddish page 91, footnote number 2,  where he writes:

Typical: as often happens that in the most Hasidic songs, secular [‟fraye”] lines are sung at the end. Perhaps because the song was sung at Simkhes-toyre, when everyone was a little drunk?‟

So Prilutski believed that the song was Hasidic, not Maskilic (anti-Hasidic), and perhaps he had even seen it performed by Hasidim? That would not be shocking, since it was common for similar parodic anti-Hasidic songs such as this, written from the point of view of Hasidim, to be ‟misinterpreted‟ as pro-Hasidic, pro-rebbe. The classic example is Velvl Zbarzher‘s Kum aher du filosof  which was recorded in a typically lyrical fashion by Theodore Bikel.

Is it mis-interpretation? ‟Reinterpretation‟ or just plain ‟interpretation‟ would be preferable. The singer, whose context and audience varies from that of the composer, gives the song a different meaning through his performance.

Waletzky clearly sings it as a parody in the way the Maskilic composer wrote it, and the song has several of the subjects of satire that the maskilim often mocked about the traditional shtetl life: the blind devotion of the hasidim to their rebbe, the fanatic anti-modern/progress attitude (e.g., mocking the popular secular dance kadril  ‘quadrille’ as shmadril, which also alludes to the word for converting, shmadn), and the highlight of the song, the satirizing of Yiddish names that comprises the refrain.

Notice that in Prilutski‘s version there is no reference to shmadril but non-traditional dance is mentioned (Zey veln tantsn mit fremde yunge-layt / They will dance with young strangers).

“Der heyliker moshiakh”

“The Holy Messiah”

un az der heyliker moshiekh vet kumen
vel ikh zayn der ershter af der shlakht.
af di daytshn vet men zikh nemen
un zey shlogn tog vi nakht.
gor on pulver un on blay,
koyln veln flien iber aln.
un az der rebe vet nokh tsugebn a posek derbay,
vi shtroy veln di daytshn faln.

And when the holy Messiah comes
I will be the first into battle.
We’ll set upon the Assimilators
And beat them day and night.
No need for powder or lead,
Bullets will be flying everywhere.
And the moment the Rebbe adds a verse from Scripture,
The Assimilators will drop like straw.

un es vet nokh tsuhelfn
zurekh un burekh, yankev, danil,
zindl, grindl, khayem, smil,
berl, shmerl, getzl, azril,
veln firn dos gantse krentsl.
keyle, beyle, yente, sose,
khane, brayne, yakhne, dvose,
sime, blime, pesi un rose
veln tantsn dos mitsve-tentsl.

And helping out will be
Zorekh and Baruch, Jacob, Daniel,
Zindl, Grindl, Chaim, Samuel,
Berl, Shmerl, Getsl, Azriel,
The ringleaders.
Keyle, Beyle, Yente, Sose,
Hannah, Brayne, Yakhne, Dvose,
Sime, Blume, Pesi and Rose
Will dance the Mitsve Dance…

tshiri-bim-bom…

der rebe vet zayn der komendant.
er vet komedirn ahin un aher.
un ikh vel zayn zayn atyudant,
di khsidim dos militer.
un az der rebe vet onfangen fun toyre tsu shmaysn,
tsu bavayzn zayne havayes,
azoy veln di khsidim onhoybn tsu shisn
af di drabes, af di hultayes.

The Rebbe will be the commander.
He’ll issues orders this way and that.
And I will be his adjutant;
The Chassidim–his troops.
And when the Rebbe begins thrashing them with Torah,
Making his faces at them,
The Chassidim immediately open fire
On the freethinking prostitutes and adulterers.

And helping out will be
Zorekh and Baruch, Jacob, Daniel,…

di daytshn, zey vern dokh poshet dil–
zey veysn nit vos zey zoln tin.
zey hobn a tants vos heyst ‘shmadril’:
eyner loyft aher, un der anderer ahin.
un di daytshke vos tsimblt af dem shlambil
vet fayerdike kneydlekh esn;
un az der rebe vet aroyfleygn zayn lape af ir,
vet zi in tsimbl fargesn.

un es vet nokh tsuhelfn…

The Assimilators will simply get confused–
They won’t know what to do.
They have a dance called the ‘Shmadrille’:
One runs this way and the other runs that way.
The Lady Assimilator tsimbling* her ‘shmambourine’
Will eat hot matzo-ball ammo.
And when the Rebbe lays his paws on her
She’ll forget all about her tsimbl*.

And helping out will be
Zorekh and Baruch, Jacob, Daniel..

*tsimbl = cimbalom/hammered dulcimer; tsimbling =  to play a tsimbl (or in this case, to beat with sticks as if playing a tsimbl)

Der heyliker moshiakh in Noyekh Prilutksi‘s collection Yidishe folkslider (click to enlarge)