Friday, June 17, 2011

Oh My Beloved Bessarabia!

The Latest Photos and Songs from AHEYM’s Current Expedition

This week’s post comes to you from Chisinau, Moldova where the AHEYM team has just passed through on their latest (and still ongoing!) expedition throughout the cities and shtetlekh of Podolia, Bukovina and Bessarabia.  Led by Professor Dov-Ber Kerler and Dr. Moisei Lemster, this current trip has included both return visits to some of our most informative interviewees and sessions with new Yiddish-speaking friends in numerous Eastern European towns.

As the video from this trip has not even been downloaded off the camera, our regular video clips are not yet available. In the meantime, however, we are pleased to share with you some of our latest photos and a special audio excerpt.

Photo Credit: Sebastian Schulman and Anya Quilitzsch

In this audio clip, we hear Zelda Davidovna Roif (b. 1930) sharing the opening lines of Oy mayn libe basarabye (Oh, My Beloved Bessarabia).  The words, a folklorized version of a poem by Moyshe Pintshevski, are sung to the tune of a doina, a Moldovan and Jewish musical form often associated with the region’s shepherds.

The words, transcribed as she sings them in a Bessarabian dialect, are as follows:

S’iz geveyn a mul a postekhl
Nokh a kind fin tsvishn kinder
Fleyg er ba zayn totn posn
Shufn, lemlekh, tsig in rinder
Fleyg er ba zayn totn posn
Shufn, lemlekh, tsig in rinder

Vi of a mul ‘ot er fargesn
Dus tirl tsi farmakhn
Zenen ole zayne sheyfelekh oyf der velt tselofn...

O mayn libe basarabye
Lond fin freyd
In lond fin trouer!

There once was a young shepherd
Just a child among children
He used to shepherd his father’s
Sheep, lambs, goats and oxen
He used to shepherd his father’s
Sheep, lambs, goats and oxen

One time he forgot
to close the gate
and all his sheep ran out into the world...
Oh my beloved Bessarabia!
Land of joy
And land of sorrow!

As Zelda explains earlier in the interview, for her, the young shepherd and his scattered sheep represent the relationship between G-d and the Jewish People, especially during the Great Patriotic War.

On YouTube, one can find a complete, yet very different variant of the same song featuring the ground-breaking klezmer band Brave Old World (including IU’s Spring 2011 Paul Artist-in-Residence Michael Alpert and Bloomington native Alan Bern) and renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman:  

The AHEYM blog returns next week with our usual video postings from past expeditions.

-- Sebastian Schulman

1 comment:

  1. Nice, I love this piece.
    You probably know about it, but here is a nice version by Arkady Gendler as well:
    I believe he also sings it unaccompanied in the Socalled documentary by the National Film Board of Canada, if my memory is correct.