Archive for Workmen’s Circle

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

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2019 by yiddishsong

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

“Der shpigl mitn zeyger” Performed by Avi Fuhrman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2019 by yiddishsong

Der shpigl mitn  zeyger / The Mirror and the Clock
Sung by Avi Fuhrman
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, at Circle Lodge Camp, NY, Summer 1984.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

The text to this song was written by the classic 19th century Yiddish writer and satirist Yoel Linetski (1839 -1915) and can be found in his poetry collection Der beyzer marshelik (The Cruel Jester), 1869. The original has 12 verses, a dialogue between a mirror and a clock (scans are attached). Fuhrman remembers only one verse plus the “tra-la-la” refrain but thanks to him, as far as I know, we now have the melody.

MarshalikTitlePAge
Title page of Linetski’s Der beyzer marshelik (1869)

We have previously posted another of Linetski’s songs “Di mode”.  Yet another of his songs “Dos redele iz di gore velt” can be heard on Ruth Rubin’s fieldwork album Jewish Life: The Old Country (Smithsonian Folkways) and more recently on Jake Shulman-Ment’s recording A redele (Oriente Musik, 2015) sung by Benjy Fox-Rosen.

The text to the song (nine verses) also appears in the Yiddish song collection Der badkhn (“The Wedding Jester”, Warsaw, 1929) by Eliezer Bergman and we have attached those scanned pages. The version there is closer to Fuhrman’s and like his, and unlike the original, begins with the mirror speaking, not the clock.

The dialogue centers on the vain snobbishness of the mirror; an object that at that time was found in only the homes of wealthy families, as opposed to the clock who served all classes.

Avi (Avrom) Fuhrman was born in Chernovitz, then Romania, in 1922.  He says that all of his songs were learned from his father who often sang. Fuhrman was active in Yiddish theater in Chernovitz from a very young age.

PhotoAbrahamFuhrman

Both parents had tailoring workshops where singing was often heard. Fuhrman was a fine singer at a young age and was a soloist with Cantor Pinye Spector (Pinye Khazn) of the Boyaner Hasidim in Chernovitz.  He attended an ORT school.  During the war he was in Baku in Azerbaijan and participated in the Yiddish theater there , particularly in the “Kharkover Ensemble”. He returned to Romania, then Poland then Salzburg, Austria.  He and his wife and in-laws were on an (illegal) aliya to Israel but the path forced them to hike over a mountain and his in-laws could not manage it so they eventually came to the US in 1951.

The last line of this verse is a pun since “shpiglen zikh” can mean both “to see oneself in the mirror” as well as “delight in”

TRANSLITERATION

Batrakht nor dayn vert di narisher zeyger
Mit deym khitrerer mine firsti deym shteyger.
Di shrayst un du klopst un beyts dikh bay laytn.
Me varft dikh, me shmitst dikh in ale zaytn.
Vi shteyt mir gur un tsi reydn mit dir?
Aza nogid vi ikh bin, az me shpiglt zikh in mir.
Tra-la-la-la…..

TRANSLATION

Consider your worth you foolish clock,
With a sleazy face you lead your way of life.
You yell and you beat and plead with people.
You get thrown, beaten in all sides.
It’s beneath my dignity to talk to you.
Such a wealthy one as I whom all delight in me.
Tra-la-la-la

ShpiglYID

From Yoel Linetski’s Der beyzer marshelik, 1869:

zeyger1

zeyger2.png

zeyger3

“Borukh Shulman – Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn” Performed by Leo Summergrad

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2019 by yiddishsong

Borukh Shulman – Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn
Borukh Shulman – Another Grave, Another Sacrifice
Sung by Leo Summergrad, recorded in New York City, 1959 by Leo Summergrad

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

In 1906, in Warsaw, radical 19 year-old Borukh Shulman (Polish: Baruch Szulman1886 – 1906) threw a bomb and killed the hated Tsarist police chief Konstantinov. What happened next differs in various versions of the song.  In one version, he escapes on the trolley but when he heard a wounded comrade David Apt call him back, he returned to shoot three policemen before he was killed. In another version he killed himself after killing the police. 

ShulmanPhotoImage of Borukh Shulman published in Shmuel Lehman’s
collection Arbet un Frayhayt (Warsaw, 1921)

The majority of versions begin with the line “Vi s’iz gekumen der ershter Rusisher May” (“As soon as the Russian first of May arrived”). 

This song seems to have been quite popular before the 1950s. It appears in the Workmen’s Circle collection Zing mit mir (1945) with the music (see scan below). Leo Summergrad says he probably learned this two-verse version in his “Ordn” folkshule (secular Yiddish school) in NY.

In 1950, Yankl Goldman also sang a two-verse version that is preserved in the Ruth Rubin Archive at YIVO.  Goldman’s version was printed, words and music, in Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive, p. 143 (Slobin/Mlotek Detroit, 2007).  According to the YIVO website, Goldman was born in 1885 in Warsaw, and had been a needle trades factory worker. Here is that recording:

The “Warsaw Revolutionary Choir” recently sang a longer version of Borukh Shulman at his grave in the Warsaw Jewish cemetery. Here is a link to video link.

A nine-verse variant with music appears in Shmuel Lehman’s collection Arbet un Frayhayt (Warsaw, 1921) p. 64-66 (see scan below). We have also transliterated and translated this version, the longest one. 

Other versions were printed in S. Bastomski’s Yidishe folkslider (Vilnius, 1923)  p. 90-91 (text only, see scan below), Aharon Vinkovetsky et al..  “Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs” (1987) volume 4 and Sofia Magid’s collection Unser Rebbe und unser Stalin (Grozinger/Hudak-Lazic) p. 244.  

Thanks this week to Karolina Szymaniak, the YIVO Sound Archives, Lorin Sklamberg and Leo Summergrad. 

TRANSLITERATION (Summergrad version)

Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn
Nokh a lebn iz tseshtert fun der velt.
Nokh a kemfer iz opgeshtorbn
Borukh Shulman der bavuster held.

Veynt nit brider, veynt nit shvester.
veynt nit muter nokh ayer kind.
Az es falt, falt der bester:
Der vos hot undz getray gedint. 

TRANSLATION (Summergrad version)

Another grave, another sacrifice.
Another life destroyed in this world.
Another fighter has died –
Borukh Shulman the famous hero.

Don’t cry brother, don’t cry sister;
don’t cry mother for you child.
When someone falls, it is the best that falls.
He who served us faithfully.

Note regarding Lehman Version: The expression “gekrogn a khap”, literally “got a catch” is unkown to me and probably means “got what was coming to him” or “got a surprise”

TRANSLITERATION (Lehman’s Version)

Vi es iz gekumen der ershter rusisher may
hot men derhert in gas a klap:
Dos gantse folk hot zikh getun freyen:
Konstantinov hot gekrogn a khap. 

Borekh Shulman iz in gas gegangen,
gegangen iz er tsu dem toyt.
Gezegnt hot zikh mit zayne khaverim
mit der bombe in der hant. 

Borekh Shulman iz in gas gegangen,
bagegnt hot er dem tiran;
Mit der bombe hot ir im tserisn
Konstantinov dem tiran. 

Borekh Shulman iz afn tramvay arof,
hot Dovid Apt gegebn a geshrey;
“Borekh, Borekh! Vu lozstu mikh iber,
tsvishn di tiranen eyner aleyn?”

Borekh Shulman iz fun tramvay arop,
gegangen rateven zayn khaver Apt.
Aroysgenumen hot er dem revolver
un hot geharget dray soldatn. 

Nokh a keyver, nokh a korbn,
nokh a lebn iz tseshtert fun der velt.
Nokh a kemfer iz opgeshtrobn –
Borekh Shulman der bavuster held.

Veynt nisht shvester, veynt nisht brider,
troyert nisht muter nokh ayer kind!
Az es falt, falt der bester,
der vos hot nor getray gedint. 

Dayne khaverim, zey shteyen bay dayn keyver,
zey gisn trern yede minut.
Rakhe veln mir fun di tiranen nemen,
far undzer khavers fargosn blut. 

Sheyne blumen tuen blien,
bay Borekhs keyver af der velt.
Dos gantse folk vet kumen knien
far Borekh Shulman dem bavustn held. 

TRANSLATION (Lehman’s Version)

Upon the arrival of the Russian May 1st
an explosion was heard in the street.
All the people were celebrating –
Konstantinov got a “catch”. [surprise?]

Borekh Shulman was going in the street,
he was going to his death.
He bid farewell to his comrades
with a bomb in his hands. 

Borekh Shulman was going in the street,
and he met the tyrant.
With the bomb he ripped him apart –
Konstantinov the tyrant. 

Borekh Shulman got on the trolley,
Dovid Apt gave a yell:
“Borekh! Borekh! How can you leave me
Along among these tyrants!”

Borekh Shulman got off the trolley.
He went to save his friend Apt.
He took out his revolver
and killed three soldiers.

Another grave, another sacrifice,
another life destroyed in this world.
Another fighter has died –
Borekh Shulman the famous hero.

Cry not sister, cry not brother,
do not lament, mother, for your child.
When one of us falls, he is the best one –
he who served us faithfully.

Your friends, they stand at your grave
They pour tears every minute.
We will take revenge upon the tyrants,
for the spilled blood of our comrade.

Beautiful flowers blossom
at Borekh’s grave in this world [?]
All entire nation will come and kneel
for Borekh Shulman the great hero.

S. Bastomski’s Yidishe folkslider (Vilnius, 1923)  p. 90-91
BastomskiShulman

Shmuel Lehman’s collection Arbet un Frayhayt (Warsaw, 1921) p. 63-66:ShulmanLehman1ShulmanLehman3ShulmanLehman4

Zing mit mir (Workmen’s Circle, 1945), p. 70-71:ShulmanZingMitMIr

“Eyns un tsvey” Performed by May (Menye) Schechter

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2018 by yiddishsong

Eyns un tsvey / One and Two
Performance by May (Menye) Schechter
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman, Circle Lodge Camp, Hopewell Junction, NY, 1985

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

To welcome the beginning of the school year we present a Yiddish children’s song written and composed in New York but sung by the children in Eastern Europe Jewish schools as well.

The singer May Schechter (Yiddish name “Menye”)  was born in August 1920 in Soroki (Yiddish- Soroke), Bessarabia, then Romania. She died this year, February 2018.

may schechter picMay (Menye) Schechter 1920-2018

In an interview I conducted with her in 1986 at Circle Lodge, the Workmen’s Circle camp in Hopewell Junction, NY, Schechter explained that the children in Soroki performed this song as part of Zishe Weinper’s (Vaynper) children’s operetta Der bafrayter (The One Who Was Liberated). Der bafrayter was published by Farlag Matones in 1925, NY. We are attaching the Yiddish words and music (composed by N. Zaslavsky/Zaslawsky) as it appeared there. Yosl Kotler did wonderful illustrations for the publication.

befrayter pic
Picture of Der Bafrayter by Yosl Kotler

May Schechter’s daughter, Naomi Schechter, wrote  about her mother:

She liked to say “I came in singing and I’m going to go out singing” and she was able to do that almost to the end, sharing Russian songs with her caretaker Luba and Yiddish and other songs with me. She also loved to dance. She had many talents including being a world class seamstress able to make couture suits, drapery and just about anything, carrying on the tailoring tradition of her family…

May Schechter’s husband was Ben Schechter, the long time manager of the Folksbiene Yiddish theater in NY.

The poet Zishe Weinper (1893 – 1957) came to America in 1913. He was a central figure in the Yiddish left and a number of his poems appealed to composers, among them “Toybn” and “A pastekhl, a troymer”. His song Zingendik, music by Paul Lamkoff, was another American Yiddish children’s song that became popular in Eastern Europe.

The composer Nathan Zaslavsky (1885 – 1965) immigrated to the US in 1900 and composed a number of other Yiddish songs. Sarah Gorby recorded this song twice we are attaching the MP3 of the version on:  Sarah Gorby – Yiddish et Judeo-Espagnole (Arton Records).

One verse of the  song was also recorded by Masha Benye and Workmen Circle school children on the LP Lomir zingen lider far yidishe kinder. Since May Schechter and Sarah Gorby both came from Bessarabia one has to wonder whether the play Der bafrayter was especially popular there.

Special thanks to Naomi Schechter for this week’s post, as well as Lorin Sklamberg and the YIVO Sound Archive.

TRANSLITERATION

Eyns un tsvey, eyns un tsvey
eyns un tsvey iz dray.
Zun bahelt undzer velt.
Leybn iz keday.

Zum, zum, zum?
Zum, zum, zum?
freygt ba mir a flig.
Tra-la-la, tra-la-la
entfer ikh tsurik.

Tsvey un tsvey, tsvey un tsvey
tsvey un tsvey iz fir.
Vintl bluz afn gruz,
bluzt es oykh af mir.

Tri-li-li, tri-li-li
zingt a vaserfal.
Blyasket blendt, glit un brent.
Iber im a shtral.

Fir un fir, fir un fir
fir un fir iz akht.
Af a kark fun a barg
hot zikh ver tselakht.

Kha-kha-kha, kha-kha-kha
ver zhe lakht es dort?
Kha-kha-kha, kha, kha, kha
Me hert dort nisht keyn vort.

Finf un finf, finef un finf
finef un finf iz tsen.
kling klang klingt
Foygl zingt.
Vazt mir, vos er ken.

Foygl flit, taykhl tsit
Ikh tsi oykh mit zey.
Eyns un eyns, eyns un eyns.
Eyns un eyns iz tsvey.

TRANSLATION

One and two, one and two
one and two is three.
Sun light up our world,
It’s worth living.

Zum, zum, zum, zum, zum, zum?
A fly asks me.
Tra-la-la, tra-la-la
Is my reply.

Two and two, two and two
two and two is four.
Breeze blows on the grass
and so too it blows on me.

Tri-li-li, tri-li-li
sings a waterfall.
Shines and dazzles, glows and burns
A beam of light above.

Four and four, four and four
four and four is eight.
On the neck of a hill
someone was laughing.

Ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha
who is laughing there?
Ha-ha-ha, ha-ha-ha
Not a word is heard.

Five and five, five and five
Five and five is ten.
Kling-klang rings, the bird sings
Shows me what he can do.

Bird sings, river attracts,
and I am drawn to them.
One and one, one and one
One and two is three.

eyns1

eyns2
eynsmusic

“Dus geboyrn finem mentshn” Performed by Frahdl Post

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

 Dus geboyrn finem mentshn / The Birth of Man
Sung by Frahdl Post
Recorded by Wolf Younin 1976, Workmen’s Circle Nursing Home, Bronx

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Usually on the blog we identify the songs by the first line, but the singer Frahdl Post called this song Dus geboyrn finem mentshn – The Birth of Man – so we will stick with that title. It is an adaptation of the first half of the poem Der malekh (The Angel), a poem by Avraham Goldfaden (1840-1908), a section bearing the subtitle “Di yunge neshome – The Young Soul”. It was first printed in Goldfaden’s poetry collection Dos yidele (Zhitomir 1866). We are attaching in 4 scans the entire poem as it appeared in the 1903 Warsaw edition.

Goldfaden picAvraham Goldfaden

The poem and song are based on the midrash and Jewish folk belief that before birth the soul of the child knows the entire Torah and all about the world. But right before birth the angel flicks his/her finger hitting the lip and the newborn forgets everything as it enters this world. The indentation above our lips, the philtrum, marks where the angel struck the child.

In Goldfaden’s 25-verse poem and Frahdl Post’s 14-verse song, the angel especially points out the evils of money in Jewish society.

Henry Carrey transcribed the song as he heard his grandmother, Frahdl Post, sing it. After listening, I changed some words of his transcription. Some words remain unclear and we indicate alternatives in brackets. I would suggest that one must read Goldfaden’s original poem to make sense of some of the lines in the song.

Post’s northern Ukrainian dialect includes both turning the “oy” to “ey”, (for example “skheyre instead of “skhoyre”), a change we associate with the northeastern Yiddish dialect (Litvish), as well as vowel changes we usually associate with the southeastern Yiddish dialect – “zugn” instead of “zogn”, “arim” instead of “arum”. The transcription reflects the dialect as much as possible.

Needless to say Frahdl Post’s memory in recalling these long songs is very impressive. Thanks for help in this week’s post go to Henry Carrey and David Braun.

TRANSLITERATION

[Ge]shlufn iz ales eyn halbe nakht
kayn shim mentsh hot zikh nit gerirt.
Nor di zilberne levune aleyn
tsvishn di shtern shpatsirt.

Demolt tsit on der shluf mit makht ,
farshlefert di mentshn di oygn,
iz fin dem himl a malakh arup
[Un iz iber di dekher gefloygn.]

Er halt di hent tsugeltulyet tsu zikh;
a yinge neshume getrugn,
“Vi trugsti mikh? Vi shlepsti mikh ?”
heybt im on di neshume tsi zugn .

“Hob nit keyn meyre, neshumele mayns”
Heybt on der malakh tsu reydn,
“Ikh vel dir bazetsn in a hayzl a fayns
Du vest dortn lebn tsufridn [in freydn].”

“Vest onheybn di velt beser farshteyn
Veln mir dir gebn a kameyeh,
Azey aza zakh hostu keyn mol geyzen
Zi heyst mitn nomen matbeye.”

“Mit der matbeye darfstu visn vi azoy tsu bageyn,
Zi iz magnet, zi iz kishef, zi iz gelt.
Zi ken dir gibn di velt tsu zeyn,
Zi ken dir farvistn dayn velt.“

Dortn zitst eyner in zan tsimer
Er trinkt mit im frayntlekh un kvelt,
Zey vi er kikt im [?] same in bekher aran.
Er vil bay im yarshenen zayn gelt.

Dortn shluft eyner in zayn tsimer.
Er shluft zikh git geshmak
Zey vi er shteyt un kritst mit di tseyn
Er vil hobn dem shlisl fun dem gelt.

Dortn firt eyner ganeyvishe skheyre,
Gur farviklt, farshtelt,
Zey vi er hot di skheyre geganvet
Un er vil zi farkeyfn far gelt.

Dortn oyf dem beys-hakvures
In an ofenem keyver oyfgeshtelt,
Zey vi er tsit di takhrikhim arup
Un er vil zey farkeyfn far gelt.

“Okh! neyn, neyn, neyn, neyn, heyliker malakh
Mit aza velt kim ikh nit oys.
Fir zhe mir beser upet aheym,
Ikh ze du kayn gits nit aroys.“

“Shpatsir dir a bisl arim afn brik,
Shpatsir zikh a bisl arim,
Di vest dokh bald darfn kimen karik
Di zolst nit kimen far im [mit keyn grim.][?]”
[Goldfaden: “Zolst kumen aheym on a mum]

Der hun hot gegebn dem ershtn krey,
A kol fun a kimpeturin,
Azey hot men gegeybn bald a geshrey,
“ A yingele! – mit lange yurn.”

[Azoy vi men hot gegeybn dem geshrey.
“Mazl-tov, a yingl geboyrn”]
Der malakh hot gegebn a shnal in der lip
Un iz karik tsum himl farfloygn.

TRANSLATION

Everything is asleep at midnight.
Not a soul was stirring.
Only the silver moon
Went walking among the stars

Sleep covers all with its power
And makes drowsy all of the people’s eyes.
An angel then came down from heaven
And flew over the rooftops.

He holds his hands tucked close to himself
A young soul he was carrying.
“Where are you carrying me? Where are you dragging me?”
The soul starts saying to him.

“Do not fear, my dear little soul”
the angel begins to speak
“I will place you in a good house.
You will live there happily.”

“When you begin to understand the world better,
we will give you a charm.
Such a thing you have never seen:
It is called by the name – coin.”

“With this coin you will have to know what to do.
It’s a magnet; it’s magic, it’s money.
It can help you see the world.
It can destroy your the world.”

There sits someone with his friend in his room.
He drinks with him as friends and enjoys it.
Look how looks right in the goblet .
He wants to inherit his money.

Another sleeps in his room,
He is sound asleep.
See how he stands and grits his teeth;
He wants to have the key to the money.

Over there someone deals with stolen goods,
Completely wrapped up, disguised.
See how he stole that merchandise
And how he wants to sell if for money.

There on the cemetery
In an open grave [a body] is propped up.
See how he pulls the burial shrouds off it
and wants to sell them for money.

“Ah no, no, no, no holy angel
I cannot survive in such a world.
It would be better if you took me home.
No good do I see here.”

“Take a walk around the bridge,
take a little walk around.
You will soon have to come back
So that you don’t appear before him with make-up [?].”
[In Goldfaden’s original – “So that you return with no blemish”]

The rooster gave its first crow
The voice of a midwife,
And thus was given the first scream
A boy! May he live for many years.

As soon as the first yell was given
“Mazl-tov! A boy was born”.
The angle gave it a flick on the lip
And flew back up to heaven.
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Di yunge neshome – The Young Soul, as printed in Goldfaden’s poetry collection Dos yidele (Zhitomir 1866):

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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.

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

bialystok lyrics

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

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

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

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LYRICS TO TAUB’S VERSION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dialogue After the Song:

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

Gottesman: Fin vanen kent ir dus lid?

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

Gottesman: Vi hot ir dus gezingen?

Taub: In Skedinits, mayn shteytl.

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

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

Gottesman: Tsi hot zi gezingen andere lider?

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

TRANSLATION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dialogue after the song:

Gottesman: Where do you know this song from ?

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

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

Gottesman: Where did you sing it?

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

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

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

Gottesman: Did she sing other songs?

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

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

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

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