Archive for Yetta Seidman

“Erev-yon-kiper far der nakht”: A Yiddish Murder Ballad Performed by Yetta Seidman

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Erev-yon-kiper far der nakht / The Eve of Yom Kippur 
A Yiddish murder ballad sung by Yetta Seidman, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg for the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 1979.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Jews praying in the synagogue on Yom-kippur, painting by Maurycy Gottlieb

This is another variant of this once popular 19th century Yiddish murder ballad about a rejected lover shooting his beloved. We have previously posted a version “Erev yonkiper nokh halbn tog” sung by Yankov Goldman, from the YIVO Institute’s Ruth Rubin Archive. 

Seidman’s melody is basically the same, as is the plot, but the words differ in interesting ways. In all the versions the boyfriend takes out a revolver and shoots her, but it is unusual for the ballad to end at that point in the story as it does here. There is usually a different concluding verse or two. Also in this version we learn the name of the woman, Dvoyre, (the same name as in Goldman’s version) but not the name of the shooter.

This ballad often begins with the line “Tsvelef a zeyger shpet bay nakht” and has no connection to Yom Kippur. We will post additional versions of this ballad in the future.

Seidman said that she learned this song from her mother in Russia. Her Yiddish has features of both southern and northern Yiddish dialects.  She immigrated to the United States in 1910.  

TRANLITERATION/TRANSLATION

Erev-yon-kiper far der nakht,
ven ale mentshn tien esn geyn,
ven ale mentshn tien esn geyn.
Geyt a fraylen fin der arbet
in der gelibter antkegn ir. 

The eve of yom-kippur, before nightfall
when all the people are going to eat.
when all the people are going to eat.
Walks a young woman from work
and her lover meets her from the other direction.

Vi er hot ir derzeyn
azoy iz der o geblibn shteyn.
“Atsind, atsind mayn tayer zis leybn.
Di zolst mir zugn ye tsi neyn.”

As soon as he saw her
he stopped.
“Now, now my dear love
you must tell me yes or no”

“Ye tsi neyn vel ikh dir zugn
Az mayne eltern shtern mir.
Mayne eltern shtern mir.
Mayne eltern, oy, tien mir shtern,
az ikh zol far dir kayn kale nit vern.”

“Yes or no, I will tell you:
My parents prevent me.
My parents prevent me.
O, my parents prevent me
from becoming your bride.”

Vi er hot dus derhert
azoy hot es im fardrosn. 
Aroysgenemen hot er ayn revolver
un er hot Dvoyrelen geshosn. 

As soon as he heard this, 
he was peeved. 
He took out his revolver
and shot Dvoyrele.

Vi er hot ir geshosn,
azoy hot er zikh dershrokn.
Oysgedreyt hot er deym revolver
un hot zikh aleyn geshosn.

Right after he shot her
he became frightened.
He turned the revolver around
and shot himself.

TRANSCRIPTION

ערבֿ־יום־כּיפּור פֿאַר דער נאַכט
.ווען אַלע מענטשן טוען עסן גיין
.ווען אַלע מענטשן טוען עסן גיין
גייט אַ פֿרײַלין פֿון דער אַרבעט
.און דער געליבטער אַנטקעגן איר

,ווי ער האָט איר דעזען
.אַזוי איז דער אָ געבליבן שטיין
,אַצינד, אַצינד מײַן טײַער זיס לעבן„
“דו זאָלסט מיר זאָגן יאָ צי ניין

,יאָ צי ניין וועל איך דיר זאָגן„
.אַז מײַנע עלטערן שטערן מיר
.מײַנע עלטערן שטערן מיר
,מײַנע עטלערן טוען מיר שטערן
“.אַז איך זאָל פֿאַר דיר קיין כּלה ניט ווערן

,ווי ער האָט דאָס דערהערט
.אַזוי האָט עס אים פֿאַרדראָסן
אַרויסגענעמען האָט ער אײַן [אַ] רעוואָלווער 
.און האָט דבֿורהלען געשאָסן

ווי ער האָט איר געשאָסן
.אַזוי האָט ער זיך דערשראָקן
אויסגעדרייט האָט ער דעם רעוואָלווער
.און האָט זיך אַליין געשאָסן