Archive for yeshiva

“Rosh-yeshivenik” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2014 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

This week’s Yiddish Song of the Week, Rosh-yeshivenik, is sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, from Zvinyetchke, Bukovina. She was recorded by Leybl Kahn in 1954 in the Bronx.

It is a song to pass the time, using the alef-beys (Yiddish alphabet), as its structure. The first son’s name “Avreml” starts with an alef, the second son’s name “Burekhl” with a beys, the third son’s name “Getsl” with a gimel and so on. In other versions, after the naming of ten sons, ten daughters are then named. 

In Folklor-lider, Volume Two, edited by Z. Skudutski (Moscow, 1936) pages 374-375, we have a Yiddish song text with no melody on a similar theme:

Yisgadal veyisgadash shmey rabo, [opening of the kaddish prayer]
Vos amol iz geven iz haynt nishto. [What was is no more]
Taytidl, didl, didl, didl, didl, didl, day.

Amol iz geven a yid a oysher, [Once there was a rich man]
iz er geven a kaptsen a groyser,  [who was very poor]
Taytidl, didl, didl, didl, didl, didl, day.

Hot er gehat tsen tekhter  [He had 10 daughters]
Di ershte hot geheysn Osenyu [The first letter is an alef]
Di tsveyte hot geheysn Beylenyu [The first letter is a beys]

This is followed by a similar Ukrainian song text.

I have only heard the word “Rosh-yeshivenik” in this song. The usual word is just “Rosh-yeshive” (director of a yeshiva, or religious school for boy) and I have to wonder whether in an earlier version it was not “Yeshuvnik”, a simple village Jew who was often made fun of.

What I enjoy about LSW’s singing here is how the “oy” ornamentation, of which she is the master, is used for a humorous effect. In a way, she is parodying her own singing style: the words are bringing us only good news, but the “oys” and “oy veys” are comically telling us the opposite.

Der rosh-yeshivenik
S’iz a mul iz geven a rosh-yeshivenik.
Oy, oy, a rosh-yeshivenik,
Oy, oy, a rosh-yeshivenik,
Oy vey, oy vey, a rosh-yeshivenik.

Once there was a Rosh-yeshivenik [Director of a Yeshiva]
Oy, oy, a Rosh-yeshivenik
Oy, oy,  a rosh-yeshivenek
Oy vey, oy vey, a rosh-yeshivenik.

Der rosh-yeshivenik hot tsu mazel khasene gehat.
Oy, oy,  khasene gehat.
Oy, oy khasene gehat.
Oy vey, oy vey, khasene gehat.

The rosh-yeshivenik, with good fortune, got married
Oy, oy got married.
Oy, oy, got married.
Oy vey, oy vey, got married.


Der rosh-yeshivenik hot tsu mazl kindelekh gehat.
Oy, oy, kindelekh gehat.
Oy, oy, kindelekh gehat.
Oy vey, oy vey, kindelekh gehat.

The rosh-yeshivenik, with good fortune, had chidren.
Oy, oy, had children.
Oy, oy had children
Oy vey, oy vey had children

Dos ershte hot geheysn Avreymele.
Oy, oy, Avreymele.
Oy, oy, Avreymele.
Oy vey, oy vey, Avreymele.

The first one was called Avreymele.
Oy, oy Avreymele,
Oy, oy Avreymele,
Oy vey, Oy vey Avreymele.

Dos tsveyte hot geheysn Burekhl.
Oy, oy Burekhl.
Oy, oy, Burekhl
Oy vey, Oy vey, Burekhl.

The second one was called Burekhl,
Oy, oy Burekhl,
Oy, oy Burekhl,
Oy vey, Oy vey Burekhl.

Dos drite hot geheysn Getsele.
Oy, oy, Getsele
Oy, oy, Getsele
Oy vey, oy vey Getsele.

The third one was called Getsele.
Oy, oy Geltsele.
Oy, oy Getsele
Oy vey, Oy vey Getsele.

roshyeshiva1roshyeshiva2

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“An ayznban a naye” Performed by David Shear

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by yiddishsong

Notes by Itzik Gottesman

“An ayznban” was sung by David Shear of New York City and recorded by me in his apartment in 1989. Shear was born in Luboml (Libivne in Yiddish), Poland. He studied in Ostrovitz, near Keltz in a Navaradok Yeshiva in the 1930s. This was a musar yeshiva and if you are not familiar with that term, I recommend you read Chaim Grade’s novel The Yeshiva as well as other works by him. This kind of yeshiva emphasized ethics in an extreme way. That the yeshiva students there would sing “An ayznban” which is an adaptation of Elyokum Zunzer’s (1836-1913) song “Lid fun ayznban” (not to be confused with his song/poem “Der ayznban”) is not that surprising, since  Zunser’s poetry often mixed parable and Jewish ethics (for more on Zunser, see the previous song in this blog “A bayshpil” which is also by him).

Elyokum Zunser

You can find the original yiddish text in The Works of Elyokum Zunser, Volume One, edited by Mordkhe Schaechter, YIVO, 1964, pages 255-258. Shear obviously forgot a rhyme in the third verse. In the original the third verse reads:
Yetveder reltse iz a sekunde
Yetveder statsye, a yor.
Yeder kasarke iz glaykh tsu a shtunde.
A poyezd iz in gantsn a dor.

Every rail is a second.
Every station is a year.
Every kasarke (?) is like an hour.
A train is like a whole generation.

The only recording I know of the song is on “Selected Songs of Eliakum Zunser” sung by Nathanial Entin, Folkways 1963.

An ayznban a naye, iz di tsayt gevorn
velkhe firt pasazhirn, say orem, say raykh.
Loyft zen dem vinder, nor alts dos bizikurn.
Vayl dus iz a mushl antkegn aykh.

A railroad train a new one, has become the time,
which carries passengers, both poor and rich.
Run see this wonder, but all this in your mind.
Because this is a parable regarding you.

Mir zitsn do in di vagonen.
Der lokomotiv iz di tsayt.
Er firt mit zikh mentshn milyonen.
Un er loyft vi mit koyln un shtrayt.

We sit her in the traincars,
the locomotive is the time.
He carries millions of people,
And he runs as with coals, and struggles.

Yeder poyazd iz a sekunde
Yede statyse iz a dor
yede psheshatke iz a shtunde
Yeder poyezd iz a yor.

Every train is a second.
Every station is a generation.
Every platform is an hour.
Every train is a year.

Deym bilet vus di haltst in tash
dus iz dayn mazl, dayn rayze-plan.
Vi tsi furn, un vus far a klas.
Dus iz bashtimt fun Got – der direktor fun ban.

The ticket that you hold in your bag/wallet;
this is your fate, your travel-plan.
Your destination, and in which class,
This is determined by God – The Train Director.

Bay di vokzaln klingt men mit a glekl.
Di konduktorn shpringen arup.
Es loyfn pasazhirn yeder mit zayn pekl.
Fil kumen tsu, un fil kumen up.

At the train stations, they ring a bell.
The conductors jump off.
Passengers run, each with his baggage,
Many come aboard, many get off.

Un az men heyst arupgeyn, to ding zikh nisht.
Khotsh di bist nisht zeyer keyn alter man.
Dayn bilet iz oys, un di veynst imzist.
Azoy iz bashtimt fun Got – der direktor fun ban.

And if they tell you to get off, don’t negotiate,
Even though you are not a very old man.
Your ticket has expired, and your crying is for naught.
So has determined God – The Train Director.