Yiddish Curiosities: a library of wonderful but forgotten Yiddish songs from the late 1920s and after (includes Polish Jewish Cabaret). Have a listen!

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4. List of the still lost songs. Do you know any of them?
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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dos fishele - a Zionist song by Moyshe Ratner

Click for a larger view of this first page of the manuscript for Dos fishele (spelled here Das fischele) which back in the day, according to Zhelonek, was sung by "Uberkantor Hornshtein."

It was written by fervent Zionist Moyshe Ratner (I discussed and recorded another of his hits at my other blog: Di yidishe fon at yiddishpennysongs.com.)

I was lucky enough to find the album "Jewish Folk Songs of the Past and Present" on which this song appears. I didn't have the stamina to put captions on the video, but here is Jacob Haas singing the song:

UPDATE:Long after writing this post I found a recording of Judy Bressler singing this song on the Klezmer Conservatory Band album: A Taste Of Paradise released: 2003

Below, find the original song sheet, the transliteration, and my translation from the Yiddish:

Click for a larger view of the song as it appeared in the Itzik Zhelonek collection:

Dos fishele hot amol in Yardeyn gelebt
Gefilt zikh zeyer gut in dem taykh
Arum geshvimen iz er fun eybik on imer gelebt un gelakht
Far freydik far voyltok nisht gevust vos tsu ton

Plutsling iz dos fishele avek es iz avek fun dem taykh
mit yesurim gor on a sakh
Yetst vandert dos fishele arum in freshinke taykhn umetum
in dem groysn yam biz dem gezaltsenem yam
vos iz far dem fishele a sam
un der roybtfish efent zayn moyl
az dos fishele khapt on a groyl
ober dos fishele iz klug un ful oykh mit glik
glaykh in Yardein arayn tsurik

Dos yidele un dos fishele zenen beyde glaykh
Vos vamdert arum in der velt
Der yid vandert arum vi a fish in dem breytn yam
Un kumt keynmol nisht tsu tsum breg
Tomer vil er zikh bazetsn oyf a shtikele erd
Zogt men im gey vayter! Gey!
A fremder bistu, a yid bistu,
Far dir iz nishto keyn ort
Der yid shteyt oyf fun zayn land
Un er nemt zayn vander-shtok in zayn hant
Yetst vandert dos yidele arum
In farshidene veltn umetum
Fun land tsu land, fun shtot tsu shtot
Vos dos iz far dem yidele a sam
Der soyne efent zayn moyl,
Un dos yidele khapt azsh on a groyl
Der yidele iz klug
Un oykh ful mit glik nokh Palestine
geyn tsurik, tsurik

The fish once lived in the Jordan and felt very good in the river. He was always swimming around, living and laughing for happiness (didn't know what to do) Suddenly the fish is away from the river, with endless troubles. Now he wanders around everywhere in fresh water rivers, from the great sea to the salt sea which is poison for him. When he (grabs a destiny), but the fish is glever and full of happiness to go back into the Jordan.

The Jew and the fish are alike, they wander the world. The Jew wanders like a fish in the vast ocean and never comes to the shore. If it happens that he'd like to sit on a bit of ground people tell him to keep moving, go! You're a stranger, a Jew, there's no place for you. The Jew stands on his land and takes his walking stick in his hand and always wanders in different worlds, from land to land, from city to city, which is poison for him. The enemy opens his mouth and grabs the Jew without a shudder. The Jew is clever and also, goes back, full of joy, to Palestine.

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