Archive for YIVO Institute

“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

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“Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2018 by yiddishsong

Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner / I am a Small Gypsy (Rom) Lad
Pre-war version from Chernovitz, Romania.
Sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman [BSG]
Recorded by Itzik Gottesman at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center, Bronx 1980s.

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The more popular song version of this poem by Itzik Manger (1901 – 1969) was composed by Hertz Rubin (1911 – 1958) and has been recorded by at least thirteen artists. According to Chana and Yosl Mlotek in Songs of Generations, the singer Masha Benya received that version from Manger’s widow Genia Manger after the second world war in NY.

MangerItzik Manger in his Chernovitz days, 1920s

But this earlier version has a different melody, and slightly different words without the “Ekh du fidele du mayn” refrain. BSG learned this song in Chernovitz, which was Romania between the world wars and is now in the Ukraine.

Manger’s lyrics carry a number of commonly-held negative stereotypes about Romany (Gypsy) culture. However, considering the time in which he was writing, through first-person narration, Manger creates a sympathetic window into the challenges faced by Roma including poverty, oppression, and a sense of otherness as a minority community. The ever-wandering Manger, no doubt, felt like a kindred spirit.

In the Ruth Rubin Legacy: Archive of Yiddish Folksongs at YIVO, Sore Kessler sings this Chernovitz version and explains she learned it from the Yiddish poet M. M. Shaffir in Montreal. Shaffir was also from the Bukovina region (not Bessarabia as Kessler says in her spoken introduction), and a friend of BSG. Some of Kessler’s text differs and she sings a verse that BSG does not:

Shtendik zaynen mir af vegn,
mir af vegn.
Say bay nakht,
un say in regn.

Always are we travelling,
travelling [on the roads.]
Both at night
and in the rain.

Accordionist Mishka Zignaoff (who was a Yiddish-speaking Russian Rom musician based in New York) recorded the melody as Galitzianer khosid (Galician Hasid) in a medley with the famous Reb Dovidl’s nign.

I am posting this song to mark Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman’s 5th yortsayt (1920 – 2013) which falls on the second candle of khanike.

BeyleItzikTapes2Beyle and Itzik Gottesman looking over Yiddish field recordings, 1970s.

TRANSLITERATION

BSG Spoken: [Itzik Manger] iz geveyn maner a landsman, un hot geredt Yidish vi ekh. Vel ikh zingen in durem-yidish azoy vi er hot geredt. “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” un di lider vus ikh zing zenen a bisele, tsi mul, andersh vi ir zingt zey, val ikh ken zey nokh fun der heym.

1) Ikh bin a tsigaynerl a kleyner, gur a kleyner
ober vi ir zeyt a sheyner.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Ikh veys nisht vi ikh bin geboyrn, bin geboyrn.
Di mame hot mikh in steppe farloyrn
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

2) Dem tatn hot men oyfgehongen, oyfgehongen
Vayl er iz ganvenen gegangen
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Burves, hingerik un freylekh, ober freylekh
Fil ikh zikh vi a ben-meylekh.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

3) In mayn lidl kent ir hern, kent ir hern
Mayn tatns zifts, mayn mames trern.
Tra-La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

S’kost in gantsn nor a drayer, nor eyn drayer.
S’iz mayn veytik gurnisht tayer.
Trala-la-la-la-la-la-la

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

TRANSLATION

BSG Spoken: “[Itzik Manger] was from the same city as me and spoke Yiddish as I do. So I will sing in the southern Yiddish that he spoke.  “Ikh bin a tsiganerl a kleyner” and the other songs that I will sing are a little different than the way you sing them because I learned them form home.”

I’m a small Gypsy lad, a very small Gypsy lad,
But as you see good-looking.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

I don’t know where I was born, was born.
My mother lost me somewhere in the Steppes.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

They hanged my father, hanged my father
Because he went thieving.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Barefoot, hungry and merry, always merry.
I feel like a prince.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

Refrain: Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

In my song you can hear, can hear
My father’s sigh, my mother’s tears.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la

It will only cost you three kopecks.
My suffering doesn’t cost much at all.
Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la
tsigaynerl 1

tsigaynerl 2

tsigaynerl3

“Bin ikh mir geshtanen” Performed by Nochem Yood

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2018 by yiddishsong

Bin ikh mir geshtanen / I was standing there
A 19th century “khaper” song from Czarist Army
Sung by Nochem Yood

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This 19th century song describes the khapers, the “catchers”  – the despised Jews who caught boys to fulfill the Jewish quota for the Czarist army. Apparently the “khapers” only existed from 1852 – 1855, but in folk memory they were active the entire time of Czar Nicholas l’s conscription program.

soldiers passoverJewish Soldiers at Passover Seder, 1902 (Zionist Archive)

The singer is the Yiddish poet Nochem Yood (Nokhem Yerusalimtshik (1888-1966). He was born in Bobr, Belarus and came to the United States in 1916. The recording was made in the 1950s or early 1960s but he had sung this same song for the folklorist I. L Cahan in the 1920s and Cahan published it in the volume Pinkes 1927-1928 (New York) with no music. There the song was called Dos lid fun di khapers (The song of the khapers). It was reprinted, still just the lyrics, in I. L. Cahan’s Yidishe folkslider, YIVO 1957, page 373-374 (scans are attached below). For that version Nochem Yood sang eighteen verses; here he sings eleven verses.

Nochem YoodNochem Yood 

The other voice on the recording, clearly a landsman from Bober who tries to remember more verses, is for the time being unidentified.

There is a version with music in the periodical Yidisher folklor # 1, NY, 1954, from the A. Litvin Collection at YIVO. Chana Mlotek wrote the commentary there and included information on other versions; some of them quite long.  A scan of that page is also attached.

It is interesting that Cahan did not include the “Ay-ay-ay” chorus in his version. The “Ay-ay-ay” chorus as heard in this Nochem Yood recording gives the song the feeling of a communal performance or a work song. Other versions do include a similar chorus.

Thanks with help for this post to Yelena Shmulenson, Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer.

TRANSLITERATION

[Bin ikh mir geshtanen] baym foter afn hoyf
her ikh a geshrey “Yungerman antloyf!”
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Bin ikh mir gelofn in a gertndl bald.
Biz ikh bin gekumen in a tifn vald.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Dray teg un dray nekht nit gegesn, nit getrunken
nor mit di eygelekeh tsu Got gevunken.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Gib ikh zikh a ker in der zayt
Ersht ikh derze a shtibele nit vayt.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Balebostitshke, balebostitshke efnt mir of di tir,
hot rakhmones un git a kuk af mir.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Eyder ikh hob nit tsayt optsubentshn
dan zaynen gekumen di khapermentshn.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Yidelekh vos zayt ir gekumen tsu forn?
Mir zaynen nit gekumen nokh veyts un af korn.
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

Ir zayt nit gekumen nokh veyts un af korn.
Ir zayt dokh gekumen af mayne yunge yorn.
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

Shtelt men mikh avek untern mos
un me git a geshrey “Molodyets, kharosh!”
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

Beser tsu lernen khumesh mit Rashe.
Eyder tsu esn di soldatske kashe.
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

Beser tsu lebn in tsores un neyt
eyder tsu esn dem keysers breyt.
[Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay]

TRANSLATION

I was standing in my father’s yard
when I heard a yell “young man, run away!”
Ay-ay-ay    Ay-ay-ay
Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

So I ran into a nearby garden,
till I came upon a deep forest.
Ay….

Three days I didn’t eat, didn’t drink,
only winking with my eyes to God.
Ay…..

I  made a turn to the side
and before me stood a nearby house.
Ay….

Lady of the house open up the door,
have pity and take a look at me.
Ay….

Before I had time to finish saying the blessings,
the khapers had arrived.
Ay…

Dear Jews why have you come?
We have not come for wheat nor for rye.
Ay…

You have not come for wheat nor rye.
You have come for my young years.
Ay…

They stand me up for measurement
and exclaim “Attaboy!, Well done!”
Ay…

Better to learn Bible and Rashi
than to eat the soldier’s kasha.
Ay….

Better to live with troubles and want
than to eat the bread of the Czar
Ay…
binikh1binikh2binikh3

From I. L. Cahan’s Yidishe folkslider, YIVO 1957, page 373-374:

Cahan1
Cahan2

Yidisher folklor # 1, NY, 1954, from the A. Litvin Collection at YIVO:

mlotek 1

“Shule, oy, oy, oy, shule” Performed by Ester Szulman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2017 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Abraham (Avrom) Lichtenbaum, Yiddish teacher and director of the IWO (YIVO Institute in Argentina) recorded this school song from Ester Szulman, 78 years old, in Buenos-Aires, Argentina, October 2017.

Szulman attended the Wolfsohn school and the Peretz school, part of the YKUF (Yidisher kultur-farband – Jewish Culture Federation) in the Villa Lynch neighborhood in the 1950s.

buenosairesbookLeon Weiner’s book of children’s songs, Musical Alef-beys,
published in Buenos Aires, 1950

We invite all those who follow this blog in all countries to send in their Yiddish school or Yiddish camp songs (preferably in mp3 format but any format is ok) to: itzikgottesman@gmail.com

Shule, oy, oy, oy shule
In shule darfn ale kinderlekh geyn.
Der “mikro”* nemt un brengt tsurik –
Ale kinderlekh a glik!
Shule, oy, oy, oy shule.

(Yiddish) School, oy, oy, oy, school.
All the children have to go to school.
The “micro” * takes us and brings us back.
What a joy for the children!
School, oy, oy, oy school. 

Mikro/micro = micro-bus = small bus.

shule

 

“Iz Reyzele a meydl” Performed by Chaya Fiyzerman Friedman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2015 by yiddishsong

Iz Reyzele a meydl
Reyzele is a Girl
Performance by Chaya Fiyzerman Friedman
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

A student at University of Texas at Austin, Brooke Fallek video recorded her grandmother, Chaya Fiyzerman Friedman (b. 1929, Vilna) in New Jersey, Fall 2014, singing this song about a toy donkey (eyzele) which she learned by sneaking into the Yiddish theater in the Vilna ghetto.

REYZELEFOTO

Picture of a Jewish girl in Poland, 1930s

Fallek writes about her grandmother –  “Her mother hid her in a knapsack at the time of the selection at the closing of the ghetto. They were sent to the Stutthof concentration camp in Latvia. She had to hide in camp since she was a child and should have died A Nazi soldier found her and took a liking to her – he had a daughter her age.

Both she and her mother survived and went to Berlin after the war to a Displaced Persons camp. She came to New York, attended high school and married David Friedman – also a partisan survivor, in 1950. They were married for 53 years until his death. They have 3 children and 8 grandchildren.”

Iz Reyzl a meydl, a shtiferke a bren.
Hot Reyzl in a fentster an eyzele derzen.
Vert Reyzl tsetumlt, zi vil an eyzele vos lakht.
Hot papa ir anumlt fun yard aza gebrakht.

Ay, ay ay Reyzele hot zi an eyzele
mit fislekh kurtsinke, oyern lang.
A kvetsh a knepele, rirt zikh dos kepele,
Shoklen un viglen zikh af yo un neyn.

Oy, an umglik hot getrofn
shloft Reyzl nisht bay nakht.
Der eyzl iz tsebrokhn
iz Reyzl umgebrakht.

Ay, ay ay Reyzele,
hot gehat an eyzele.
mit fislekh kurtsinke, oyern lang.

Reyzl, a girl full of mischief and zeal.
Suddenly spotted in the window a donkey.
So Reyzl gets excited – she wants a laughing donkey.
So papa brought her one from the fair.

Ay, ay, ay Reyzele has a little donkey,
with short legs and big ears.
Push a button and the head moves,
and shakes and rocks to say yes and no.

Oy a catastrophe happened;
Reyzl can’t sleep at night.
The donkey is broken,
so Reyzl got upset.*
[*umgebrakht usually means “killed”, perhaps “oyfgebrakht” is what she meant?]

Ay, ay, ay Reyzele
once had a donkey.
with short legs
and long ears.
reyzl1 reyzl2 reyzl3

There are two professional recordings of this song, one by the singer and collector, Lea Szlanger in Israel on her LP “A Nig’n After My Heart – Mayn eygener nigun”. In Szlanger’s version the donkey “eyzele” becomes a rabbit “heyzele” (thanks to Lea Szlanger for sending the recording and words.)

Lea Szlanger in Song


Transliteration/Translation of Lea Szlanger’s performance:

Iz Reyzele a meydl, a shtiferke a bren.
Hot Reyzele in fentster a hezele derzen.
Un Reyzele zi vil nor, a hezele vos lakht.
Hot ir der foter fun yarid a hezele gebrakht.

Oy, oy, oy Reyzele, hot zi a hezele
mit lange oyerlekh un fislkeh kleyn.
A kvetsh a knepele, shoklt zikh dos kepele;
Shoklt zikh un vigt zikh – yo, yo un neyn.

Men tut a kvetsh a knepele hert zikh a gezang.
Oyfn haldz a glekele, klingt es gling, glang, glang.
Dan fregt zikh Reyzele far vos dos hezele
hot fislekh kurtsinke un oyern lang?

Zi tsertlt im un tulyet; zi shloft mit im bay nakht.
Zi kusht im un zi haldzt im un Reyzele zi lakht.
Un kinderlekh in droysn fun Reyzelen makhn shpot
“Zet nor, zet nor sara groysn heyzl reyzl hot”

Oy, oy, oy Reyzele, hot zi a heyzele
mit lange oyerlekh un fislekh kleyn.
A kvetsh a knepele, shoklt zikh dos kepele;
Shoklt zikh un vigt zikh yo, yo un neyn.

Men tut a kvetsh a knepele hert zikh a gezang.
Oyfn haldz a glekele, klingt es gling, glang, glang.
Dan fregt zikh Reyzele far vos dos heyzele
hot fislekh kurtsinke un oyern lang?

Reyzele is a girl, a scamp, a dynamo.
Reyzele saw a rabbit in the window.
And Reyzele, she only wants a rabbit that laughs.
So her father brought her a rabbit from the fair.

Oy, oy, oy Reyzele, has a rabbit
with long ears and little legs.
Push a button and the head rocks,
Nods and rocks – yes, yes and no.

Just push a button and you hear a song.
On her throat a little bell that rings -gling, glang, glang.
Then Reyzele asks herself why does this rabbit
have such short legs and big ears?

She caresses it and cradles it; she sleeps with it at night.
She kisses it and embraces it and Reyzele, she laughs.
And children outside make fun of Reyzele –
“Just look what a big rabbit Reyzl has!”

Oy, oy, oy Reyzele, has a rabbit
with long ears and little legs.
Push a button and the head rocks,
Nods and rocks – yes, yes and no.

Just push a button and you hear a song.
On her throat a little bell that rings -gling, glang, glang.
Then Reyzele asks herself why does this rabbit
have such short legs and big ears?

reyz1reyzl2reyz3The second recording of the song is by Henny Durmashkin on her LP  “Lider tsu gedenken” – “Songs to Remember” (thanks to Lorin Sklamberg of the YIVO Sound Archives for sending the mp3 and LP cover with photo of singer and biographical information – click image to enlarge). Her version is very close to Szlanger’s.

henny-durmashkin-pic-use

Durmashkin was also from Vilna; her father Wolf Durmashkin was a Vilna conductor before the war and in the ghetto. Henny’s sister Fanny Durmashkin accompanies her on piano. A film on these remarkable sisters was made in 2007 – “Creating Harmony: the Displaced Persons Orchestra at St. Otillien.” An article from the New Jersey Jewish Standard tells the story.

A shortened printed version of the song appears in the Parisian collection, 1948  – “Mir zingen” published by Gezelshaft kinder-fraynt, p. 109. An even shorter recorded version is found in the Ben Stonehill collection.

So this song about a rocking toy donkey (or rabbit) is clearly from Vilna/Vilnius, 1930s or perhaps created in the ghetto; but the author and composer are unknown. Fiyzerman sings a verse, or part of a third verse, that the other versions do not include, about the toy being broken.