In that day, I will restore David’s fallen sukkah. I will repair it’s broken walls and restore it’s ruins. I will rebuild it as in the days of old.

– Amos 9:11

Shtetl Dreams

‘Shtetl Dreams,’ our latest record, looks both backward and forward in Jewish history. It looks back with nostalgic fondness at Jewish life in Eastern Europe, an epoch all but lost to most sons and daughters of Jacob. The heartfelt richness of that Jewish epoch is reflected here.

At the same time, “nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.” Not all was dreamlike back in the day. Our grandparents fled Russian pogroms, bone-crushing poverty and bitterness of life, seeking new shelter in the West. We their grandchildren sometimes get stuck in the past, in an illusory ‘Fiddler on the Roof’’ shtetl dream. Even when it is ‘jazzed up’ by Broadway or Hollywood – such dreams will not help us to meet upcoming challenges. We Jewish people are entering the birth canal of national redemption.

Shivat Tziyon (the Return to Zion), is the age-old biblical hope now being fleshed out in our day. Stunning accomplishments and sorrowful failures are being revealed in the process. But nationalism alone cannot and will not fulfil our prophetic dreams. The vision of a reborn Zion will need the God of Zion’s presence and power to make this plan come together.

So sit back and enjoy with us this musical meandering through Jewish history. Though the languages may be not immediately understandable, the melody is a faithful one. Join with us in singing (or humming) the songs of our ‘people of the shtetl’ as we journey home, bringing life from the dead to the entire planet (see Romans 11:1-2, 15).

N’MITN VEG (In the middle of the road)

This anonymous Ukrainian Jewish song was published in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1901 by Shaul Moiseevitch Rosenberg (Еврейскія народныя пѣсни въ Россіи; ייִדישע פֿאָלקסלידער אין רוסלאַנד). The words express a deep longing to return to the Land of Israel, where all wrongs will be righted. The instrumentation reflects traditional acoustic klezmer music of the early 1800’s.

N’mitn veg shtayt a boym, shtayt er eingeboygn,

Fort a Yid kayn Eretz Yisro’el mit farvaynteh oygn.

Gott, Gott, groyser Gott! Tzu lang mir shlepn goles!

Az mir veln forn kayn Eretz Yisro’el – a sof tzu undzereh tzores

Gott, Gott, groyser Gott! Mir veln zein magishay mincheh

Az mir veln forn kayn Eretz Yisro’el – s’vet zein a groyse simcheh

N’mitn veg shtayt a boym, vaksn oyf ir royzn

Fort a Yid kayn Eretz Yisro’el mit tzeriseneh hoyzn

Gott, Gott, groyser Gott! Du bist a liber tateh!

Az mir veln kumen kayn Eretz Yisro’el – veln mir laygn a lateh

Gott, Gott, groyser Gott! Shoyn tzeit tzu davenen mincheh

Az mir veln forn kayn Eretz Yisro’el – s’vet zein sason v’simcheh

 

In the middle of the road stands a tree – it stands bent over

A Jew travels toward the Land of Israel with weeping eyes.

God, God, O great God! Too long have we suffered Exile!

When we travel back to the Land of Israel, it’ll be the end of our problems!

God, God, O great God! We will be presenters of righteous offerings (see Malachi 3:3)

When we travel back to the Land of Israel, it’ll be a great joy!

In the middle of the road stands a tree – roses are growing upon her.

A Jew travels toward the Land of Israel with ripped up pants.

God, God, O great God! You are a beloved Father!

When we travel back to the Land of Israel, then we will patch them all up!

God, God, O great God! It’s time to pray the Mincheh (afternoon prayers)

When we travel back to the Land of Israel, it’ll be joy and rejoicing!

אין מיטן וועג שטייט אַ בּוים –  שטייט ער אייַנגעבּויגן

פֿאָרט אַ ייד קיין ארץ ישראל מיט פֿאַרוויינטע אויגן

פֿאָרט אַ ייד קיין ארץ ישראל מיט פֿאַרוויינטע אויגן

גאָט, גאָט, גרויסער גאָט – צו לאַנג מיר שלעפּן גלות

אַז מיר וועלן פֿאָרן קיין ארץ ישראל, אַ סוף צו אונדזערע צרות

גאָט, גאָט, גרויסער גאָט – מיר וועלן זייַן מַגִּישֵׁ֥י מִנְחָ֖ה

אַז מיר וועלן פֿאָרן קיין ארץ ישראל, ס’וועט זייַן אַ גרויסע שִׂמְחָ֑ה

אין מיטן וועג שטייט אַ בּוים, וואַקסן אויף איר רויזן

פֿאָרט אַ ייד קיין ארץ ישראל מיט צעריסענע הויזן

פֿאָרט אַ ייד קיין ארץ ישראל מיט צעריסענע הויזן

גאָט, גאָט, גרויסער גאָט – דו בּיסט אַ ליבּער טאַטע

אַז מיר וועלן קומען קיין ארץ ישראל, וועלן מיר לייגן אַ לאַטע

גאָט, גאָט, גרויסער גאָט – שוין צייַט צו דאַווענען מִנְחָ֖ה

אַז מיר וועלן פֿאָרן קיין ארץ ישראל, ס’וועט זייַן שָׂשׂ֣וֹן וְשִׂמְחָ֑ה

 

‘N’mitn veg – In the middle of the road.’ Words and melody by anonymous; public domain. Yiddish words © Avner Boskey, 2021, (p) David’s Tent Music (ASCAP)

 

Mandolin, mandola, tsouras, vocals – Avner Boskey; Percussion – Tony Morra; Contrabass – Gilad Abro; Accordion – Ilya Magalnik; Trumpet – Avraham Felder; Trombone – Yossi Regev; Clarinet – Nitzan Ein Habar

BEI DI TEICHN (Beside the Babylonian Rivers)

The words are based on Psalm 137:1-4. The original tune was published in Oxford, England on July 1, 1786 by Philip Hayes (composer, organist, singer and conductor). The Jewish man who penned the psalm was struggling to make sense of YHVH’s hand of judgment on His chosen people – the Exile to Babylon circa 587 B.C. That event kicked off the Scattering (Diaspora) of Israel and catalyzed the onset of the prophet Daniel’s Times of the Gentiles – Gentile dominion over the Jewish people. Biblical dreams of a Return to Zion would accompany our nation over the next 2,500 years.

Bei di teichn, bei di Bavlisher teichn

Hobn mir anidergezetz, bavaynt, geklogt far dir

Mir dermonen zich, dermonen zich, zichroynes fun Tziyon

Undzere bayzeh fanger, undzereh soynim un payniker

Farlangen fun undz tzu zingen, oy zmires, a Yiddish lid

Vi kenen mir zingen a hayliker nign oyf fremder un umrayniker erd?

Beside the Babylonian rivers we sat ourselves down, weeping, mourning for you.

We recall our memories of Zion. Our angry captors, our enemies and torturers request that we sing songs, wordless melodies, a Yiddish song – but how can we sing a holy melody on foreign and unclean soil? (see Amos 7:17; Hosea 9:3)

 

בּײַ די טײַכן                                             בּײַ די בָּבֿלישער טײַכן 

האָבן מיר אַנידערגעזעצט                            בּאַװײנט, געקלאָגט פֿאַר דיר  

מיר דערמאָנען זיך, דערמאָנען זיך                 זכרונות פֿון צִיון

 

אונדז’רע בּייזע פֿאַנגער                               אונדז’רע שׂונאים און פּײַניקער

פֿאַרלאַנגען פֿון אונדז צו זינגען         זמירות, אַ יידיש ליד

װי קענען מיר זינגען אַ הייליקער ניגון           אױף פֿרעמדער און אומרייניקער ערד

 

‘Bei di teichn: Beside the Babylonian rivers.’ Yiddish words © Avner Boskey, 2021, (p) David’s Tent Music (ASCAP 2021); words based on Psalm 137:1-4; melody public domain by Philip Hayes 1786, Oxford, England

Persian ney – Amir Shahsar; Hurdy gurdy, Cretan lyra, Persian tar – Yaron Tcherniak; Bodhran – Gilad Dubretski; Acoustic guitars – Avi Singolda; Harp – Ilana Phelps; Accordion – Ilya Magalnik; Low whistle – Uri Miles; Vocals – Avner Boskey

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