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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lost Yiddish theatre song: Yontif in der vokhn (A midweek holiday)

In Yiddish, yom-tov is pronounced yontif / yontiv. The song, for which I have still not found the melody, is attributed to the mysteriously missing Shlomo Lindenfeld. I took the song to my Yiddish class and got some clarifications.

"Rags" (shmates) was the colloquial name for the garment business which at this time had obviously gone bust.

"Yishakeini," a Hebrew word from the beginning of the Song of Songs, literally means "kiss me" but in parlance it means "kiss my ass."

Tsopot (now Sopot) is a seaside town in Eastern Pomerania on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea in northern Poland which was long known for its spas and sanatoriums (sanatorii?) Wikipedia says "At the beginning of the 20th century it was a favourite spa of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany."

So here's my translation from the Yiddish:

I heard a saying from my neighbor,
He told me in the street, "It's a midweek holiday!"
I've made a little song on the same theme which I'll share with you
It's happy for a jew, you'll soon hear it.
Everybody loves my songs, Poland is in a froth over them
So Lindenfeld says to you: "It's a midweek holiday!"

Nalevki and Genshe streets look like a cemetery
The merchants are pale with worries
They stand in their businesses like clay dummies
The merchants have to make careful accounts,
Their last coins are taken from them
That's how they come to bankruptcy
Through the millions of rags that are now past
Nobody pays any debts because the taxes have broken them
Each one says to the other "Yishakeini"
It's a mid-week holiday!

A wife complains to her husband,
She is constantly suffering from nerves
And the doctor told her she should go to the salt baths
Her husband gives her a little money and sends her away to Sopot.
There she lives, having a good time,
and leaves her husband to do the worrying
When she comes he's wringing his hands -
My wife looks so - thick (pregnant)
Nu, it's a mid-week holiday!

A 60-year-old widow, ugly as can be,
marries a young guy and gives him a fat dowry.
Barely two weeks go by, the old woman's crying and complaining.
He left her between "yes" and "no" and took everything she owned.
And I tell you, it's nothing to laugh about.
The clown broke her, poor thing.
Now the old lady cries, what will I live on? Mid-week holiday.

A modern girl, well-educated, goes out with a young man,
she makes a false step (bad choice).
Her father shouts, her mother says "We have somebody else for you."
The daughter raises a ruckus and refuses.
"I won't have another in his place."
Hardly any time passes, though,
she's crept quite a long way down the wrong path.
Neighbors and strangers are gossiping that for the girl,
it's already a mid-week holiday.

The news is going around, pay attention.
Poor and rich, small and big, all are traveling to Palestine
because here, we're living through bad times in a very sad situation.
It's time now, Jews, to think about the "Jewish Question" -
Enough of their laughing at us, accusing us of calumnies,
Let's go to Zion and there make mid-week holiday!

A shprikhvort hob ikh gehert
fun mayn eygenem shokhn
az in gas hot er mir derklert
iz haynt yontiv in der vokhn
oyf der zelber tema hob ikh gemakht a lidl
vos vet aykh erklern
s'iz vitsik-freylekh farn yidl
ir vet es bald tsu hern
fun mayne lidlekh yeder kvelt
foyln tut mit zey kokhn
erklern vet aykh Lindenfeld
yontiv in der vokhn!

di Nalevki un di Genshe gas
zet oys vi beys-oylem
far tsores vern di sokhrim blas
men shteyt in gesheft vi a goylem!
di sokhrim muzn opgebn razshtshot
me nemt bay zey tsu di letste zlotes
dos brengt zey tsu vern bankrot
durkh di gevezene milionen shmates
keyn khoyves tsolt nisht keyner
Vayl di shtayern hobn zey tsubrokhn
eyner zogt tsum tsveytn: ishkni
s'iz yontif in der vokhn

A vaybl far ir man zikh klogt
Di laydt oyf nerven keseyder
un der doktor hot ir farzogt
az zi darf zalts-beder
Der man git ir a bisl geld
un shikt zi avek keyn Tsopot
dort lebt dos vaybl zikh tsu a velt
un lozt dem man a klopot
ven dos vaybl kumt tsurik
hot er di hent farbrokhn
mayn vaybl zet oys sheyn un - dik
nu, nu, s'iz yontiv in der vokhn

an almone fun zekhtsik yor
mies vos ken nor zayn
heyrat mit a yungermantshik gor
un zi git im nokh a sakh nadn
s'iz koym ariber vokhn tsvey
di alte vaynt un klogt
er iz avek fun ir tsvishn a yo un neyn
un tsugenumen vos zi hot farmogt
un ikh zog aykh, s'iz nisht tsu lakhn
der lats hot zi nebekh tsubrokhn
yetst veynt di alte, mit vemen vel ikh makhn?
yontif in der vokhn

A fraylin fun der hayntike tsayt
gebildet fayn un gut
mit a yungerman ven zi geyt
un zi makht a foyln shrit
der tate shrayt, di mame zogt
mir hobn far dir a tsveytn
un di tokhter liaremt un zi klogt:
neyn! ikh vel im nisht farbaytn
s'iz koym ariber a shtikl tsayt
in di vayte drokhim iz zi farkrokhn
m'shmuest tsvishn shkheynim, fremde layt
az bay ir iz shoyn yontiv in der vokhn!

a nayes iz dokh haynt aroys
m'darft es hobn gut in zinen
orem un raykh, fun kleyn un groys
forn nokh palestine
vayl mir lebn iber do shlekhte tsaytn
in zeyer a troyerike lage
shoyn tsayt, yidelekh, undser glik???
durkh der yidishe frage
genug shoyn fun unds gelakht
mit bilbulim unds geshtokhn
fort nokh tsion un dort aykh makht yontiv in der vokhn!

From Wikipedia re: "The Jewish Question:"

The term "Jewish Question", as introduced in western Europe, was a neutral expression for the negative attitude toward the apparent and persistent singularity of the Jews as a people against the background of the rising political nationalisms and new nation-states... From that point hundreds of other tractates, pamphlets, newspaper articles and books were written on the subject, with many offering "solutions" including resettlement, deportation and assimilation of the Jewish population. Similarly, hundreds of pieces of literature were written opposing these "solutions" and have offered solutions such as re-integration and education. ... From around 1860 the notion took on an increasingly antisemitic tendency...

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