Monday, November 29, 2010

A White Goat Under the Bed. A night of Jewish lullabies.

I just got back from a fun night at my synagogue which included a talk on Mussar by one of the congregants and a talk (and concert and singalong) on Jewish lullabies by our Cantor Annie Rose. Mostly I enjoyed the lullabye part. Go figure. (The Mussar talk seemed to be well received by everyone but me. I found the speaker to approach it from a fuzzy faux-spiritualized self-help perspective that was sadly disconnected from any Jewish meaning. I'm just cranky I guess) The lullabies were great, though.

I know a bit about Yiddish and Ladino lullabies but Cantor Rose brought up a number of points that I didn't know including....

1. Lullabies typically express the yearnings of the mother, sometimes for the return of an absent father, sometimes for the future of the child, sometimes for love or peace

2. Lullabies typically tell a story, even if it's just the story of the day's activities and dilemmas

3. Yiddish and Ladino lullabies have a strong sense of Jewish culture and community, with common references to rabbis, prayers, and Torah study, Jewish superstitions (white goats are lucky), and Jewish experiences (the father conscripted into the army, merchant trades)

4. Did I say that white goats are lucky? Yep. Having one under your bed is a good thing. Really.

My favorite of the night was Unter Dem Kinds Vigele (Beneath the Baby's Cradle). The lyrics, which include a white goat, are:

1. Unter dem kinds vigeleBeneath the baby's cradle
Shteyt a vayse tsigele.Stands a white kid.
Di tsigele iz geforn handlenThe kid has gone away to trade
Rozhinkes mit mandlen;In raisins and almonds.

Rozhinkes mit mandlen iz zeyer zis,

Raisins and almonds are very sweet,
Mayn kind vet zayn gezunt un frish.My child will be healthy and alert.

Gezunt iz di beste skhoyre,Health is the best of goods,
Mayn kind vet lernen toyre,My child will study Torah;
Toyre vet er lernen,Torah is what he'll study,
Sforim vet er shraybn,He will write holy books.
A guter un a frumerA good and a pious person
Vet er im yirtse hashem blaybn.will he stay, God willing.

Unfortunately, I can't find a good version online to share. So here's Hannah Roth singing the lovely Yiddish lullabye "Shlof Mayn Kind (Rest my kid)," Lyrics by Shalom Aleichem.


Anonymous said...

Jack said...

Hey Anonymous...thanks.

For everyone else, those two links are to excellent recordings of "Rozhinkes mit Mandlen" ("Raisins and Almonds"), a classic Yiddish lullaby.