A Klezmer Christmas

Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

Song of Songs 2:1

Christmas Past: Dos Lid fun der goldener Pave

Christmas yet to Come: Shnirele Perele, gildene Fon

Christmas Present: Noël 2009 (8 Tevet 5770) - The Golden Menorah - Mise en Abyme

Foreground: FulDa & Rose Reiss (left), Background: The Golden Menorah (center), A Klezmer Christmas (splitscreen left), Fiddler on the Roof (splitscreen right)

Rose Reiss & FulDa by SAGReiss

From: Moshe Reiss

Date: 25 August 2010

Subject: Re: Menorah

There are two symbols of the state of Israel; the Star of David and the Seven branched candelabra; I think the latter is to be found in Zechariah - it may be earlier, I don't  have a concordance handy so I can not really check. The Nine branched Menorah came much later during the story (apocraphyl or not) of Chanukah. They found oil and it lasted for eight/nine days, during which they were able to make new olive oil. Thus your confusion is perfectly reasonable. The Fiddler is using the menorah which is the symbol of Isreal and not of Chanukah.

Dad

----- Original Message -----

From: SAGReiss

Date: 25 August 2010

Subject: Menorah

Both the menorah that you brought & the one my mother brought have nine branches (8+1). The one I made for Rose has only seven (6+1). I assumed I had just made a dumb mistake, which I'm relatively good at doing. However, as I created a link from the lily in John Keats' Belle Dame Sans Merci on the Birthday Bash page to the lily of the valley in the Song of Songs on the Klezmer Christmas page, I noticed that the menorah in Fiddler on the Roof (see attached screenshot) also has but seven branches, whence perhaps my confusion. Have you any idea why this might be so?

The Klezmer Christmas is redeemed, thanks in part to a diligent Maccabee, a member of the French forces of violence, in the words of Hannah Arendt. If nothing else, he agreed to hear me at eight o'clock on a Saturday morning. Damien, thanks for that, bro.

Rose blows out Menorah by
                SAGReiss
Rose opens Piano by
                SAGReiss
Christmas
                Rose by SAGReiss Rose plays Piano by
                SAGReiss
Rose decorates Trees by
                SAGReiss

From: SAGReiss

Date: 5 December 2009

Subject: 1 Virgin

OK, I'll summarize, the cop was young, polite, has a Guadeloupean wife and a little blonde goatee, and he seemed to take this violation of French criminal law seriously, although he did not respond favorably to my offer to drive him to Lablachere and fetch my daughter with his help. He didn't seem to mind that I corrected his spelling mistakes. I told him I wasn't sure about "nous nous sommes separes", but that I didn't think it was too important, which is not true. (Maupassant tells me the cop was right.) I avoided granting truth status to C the G's pretext (a real or imaginary illness of Rose's) by repeating it, but I did tell him afterwards, adding that I have no idea if Rose is ill, and that I'm meeting her doctor at the Order of Doctors on Thursday to talk about this problem. I was stunned that he let me file a civil charge as well. He just called the Procurer to ask permission. That man definitely took the violation seriously. It's nine o'clock on Saturday morning, and this poor bastard's on call at home. He gets a call on the government-issue cell phone about some asshole who wants to celebrate a Klezmer Christmas & Hanukkah with his beloved daughter, and he actually spends fifteen minutes strategizing with the cop, ordering him to call C the G today to find out what her fucking problem is. I wonder how she's going to improvise her way out a cold call from the fucking pigs. It could go either way. She could tell them to fuck off and not bother her when her daughter is sick and hang up the phone. She could also charm this boy's underware off his ass. When he asked me how much I wanted to request in psychological damages, I didn't hesitate. QB VII came immediately to mind: "One euro, motherfucker." If she ever has to cut me that check, I will post it as a symbolic witness to justice.

Tree
                & Bells sans Rose by SAGReiss
Brownies & Piano sans
                Rose by SAGReiss
The Golden Menorah sans
                Rose by SAGReiss SAGReiss & Menorah
                sans Rose by SAGReiss
Mobile & Tree sans
                Rose by April & SAGReiss

Rose was withheld from our Klezmer Christmas & Hanukkah celebration by Scrooge, a violation of French criminal law known as "non-representation of children", for which I will press charges at the Gendarmerie tomorrow morning. As promised, here are the pics, but they are sadly empty. The brownies I baked will go uneaten. The Messiah, son of David, is not come, nor is Rose, daughter of SAGReiss.

4 December 2009

SAGReiss: Weep with me, my friends, for the lost Klezmer Christmas.

From: SAGReiss

Date: 2 December 2009

Subject: Do It Yourself

Can't find a menorah? No problem, I'll make one instead. I've got bits of cardboard that Rose has fingerpainted green, tinfoil, glue, seven votive candles to act as the branches, and I'll melt the Hanukkah candles into them. I was hesitating in Eudora, so I began to cut this down to 140 characters in Word for Twitter, but the word "instead" kept ringing in my ears. Instead, instead, why do I need that word "instead"? Nichelle, Joy, Murder, or possibly negatron might be able to guess this (if the last is over his woe for the heartbreaking Saskatoon Elk Grey Cup football loss), but the French(wo)men can take a mulligan:

"All I need is a reindeer..."
The Grinch looked around.
But since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch...?
No! The Grinch simply said,
"If I can't find a reindeer, I'll make one instead!"
So he called his dog Max. Then he took some red thread
And he tied a big horn on top of his head.

Christmas Past: Dos Lid fun der goldener Pave

Music: Dubi Zeltser, Soprano: Batya Fonda, Piano: Regina Dricker, Commentary: Manuela Becker

This song (and this site in general) shows the dichotomy of space (North, South, East, West) & time (yesterday), image & music, plastic & text, analog & digital, real & virtual.


The Golden Peacock flew away,
Eastward to look for Yesterday,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
She flew and flew, till in the hilly track
She met an old Turk on a white hack,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
To him did the Golden Peacock say:
"Have you perchance seen Yesterday?"
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li?
The Turk puckered his brow and shook his head,
"Yesterday? No, I haven't," he said,
And pulling his reins, away he sped.
And over the hills his laughter was heard:
"Such a fool, that golden bird!"

Iz di goldene pave gefloygn avek,
Keyn mizrekh zukhn di nekhtige teg,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
Flit zi un flit, biz zi treft in di berg,
Oyf a vayser shkape an altn terk,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
Tut im di goldene pave a freg:
"Tsi hostu gezen di nekhtige teg?"
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li?
Farkneytsht der terk dem shtern un klert:
"Di nekhtige teg nisht gezen, nisht gehert."
Un a tsi di leytses, un "vyo" tsum ferd.
Un es klingt in di berg zayn "ha, ha, ha, ha":
A goldener foygl un a nar aza!"

Marc Chagall (1930) & Jean de La Fontaine
                  (1668): "The Peacock Complaining to Juno"

Marc
                  Chagall (1930) & Jean de La Fontaine (1668):
                  "The Peacock Complaining to Juno"

Then the Golden Peacock flew away,
Northward, to look for Yesterday,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
She saw a fisherman by the sea,
Spreading his net, and singing was he,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
The Golden Peacock to him did say:
"Have you perchance seen Yesterday?"
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li?
He puckered his brow, and shook his head,
"Yesterday? No, I haven't," he said -
Yesterday? No, I haven't," he said.
And he ended his song with a laughing word:
"Such a fool, that golden bird!"

Iz gefloygn di goldene pave avek,
Keyn tsofn zukhn di nekhtige teg,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
Treft zi a fisher baym breg fun yam,
Er shpreyt oys zayn nets un zingt tsum gram:
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
Tut im di goldene pave a freg:
"Tsi hostu gezen di nekhtige teg?"
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li?
Farkneytsht der fisher dem shtern un klert:
"Di nekhtige teg nisht gezen, nisht gehert -
Di nekhtige teg nisht gezen, nisht gehert."
Un farendikt zayn lid mit "tra-la-la-la -
A goldener foygl un a nar aza.



The Golden Peacock flew away,
Southward, to look for Yesterday,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
A negro in a field he saw,
Mending his poor tent with golden straw,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
And to him did the Golden Peacock say,
"Have you perchance seen Yesterday?"
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li?
The negro grinned, his teeth showed white,
In a broad smile of huge delight,
In a broad smile of huge delight.
He did not answer, he spoke no word -
"Such a fool, that golden bird!"

Iz gefloygn di goldene pave avek,
Keyn dorem zukhn di nekhtige teg,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
Treft zi a neger im mitn feld,
Farrikhtn mit shtroygold zayn orem getselt,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
Tut im di goldene pave a freg:
"Tsi host du gezen di nekhtige teg?"
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li?
Fartshiret der neger di vayse tsen,
A shmeykhl aza, vos iz mole kheyn,
A shmeykhl aza, vos iz mole kheyn.
Un er entfert gornisht, er zogt nor "Ha? -
A goldener foygl un a nar aza!"

Marc Chagall (1930) & Jean de La Fontaine
                  (1668): "The Peacock Complaining to Juno"

Marc
                  Chagall (1930) & Jean de La Fontaine (1668):
                  "The Peacock Complaining to Juno"

The Golden Peacock flew away,
Westward, to look for Yesterday,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
She met a woman who in black was clad,
Who knelt at a grave, grief-stricken, sad.
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
The Peacock now had nothing to say,
There was no need to ask her, "Tell me, pray ..."
The weeping woman at the edge of the way,
She knew was the widow of Yesterday,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.

Translation: Joseph Leftwich

Iz gefloygn di goldene pave avek,
Keyn mayrev zukhn di nekhtige teg,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
Treft zi a froy in shvartsn vos knit,
Nebn a keyver dershlogn un mid,
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.
Fregt gornisht di pave, zi veyst aleyn,
Az di froy in shvartsn, vos shpreyt ir geveyn,
Ibern keyver baym rand fun veg,
Iz di almone fun di nekhtige teg:
Tri-li, tra-la, tri-li.

Transliteration: Itzik Manger

Text: Itzik Manger


Christmas yet to Come: Shnirele Perele, gildene Fon

A string of pearls, a golden banner,
The Messiah, son of David, sits on high
Holding a goblet in his right hand
Making a blessing on the whole land.

Amen and amen, this is sure:
The Messiah will come this year.

If he comes by chariot,
There will be good years.
If he comes on horseback,
There will be good times.
If he comes on foot,
The Jews will go into the Land of Israel.

Translation: Klezmatics & Tamás Sajó


Shnirele perele, gildene fon,
Meshiakh ben Dovid zitst oybn on.
Er halt a bekher in der rekhter hant,
Makht a brokhe afn gantsn land.

Omeyn veomeyn, dos iz vor,
Meshiakh vet kumen hayntiks yor.

Vet er kumen tsu forn,
Veln zayn gute yorn.
Vet er kumen tsu raytn,
Veln zayn gute tsaytn.
Vet er kumen tsu geyn,
Veln di yidn in erets yisroyl aynshteyn.

Transliteration: Klezmatics

30 November 2009

SAGReiss: What balls the translator has to quote King James Mathew 2:20 with that beautiful phrase: "go into the land of Israel." In the real Bible they "go into the land of Egypt". In Hebrew you "go up to Israel". Are those your words, or the words you found on the CD jacket?

1 December 2009

Tamás: Yes, you are right, that line is my change. The Klezmatics translation only said there “the Jews will live in erets yisroyl”, but I preferred to give a more exact translation of the Yiddish original. I did not realize the evangelical connotation of this phrase, but you are right in pointing it out.

Anyway, this is how it stands in the Yiddish original, and while on the one hand it logically derives from the structure of German, on the other hand some contamination with Christian liturgical texts quoting this verse of Matthew is not excluded either.

SAGReiss: Contamination is kind of a harsh word, but one cannot write the English language without quoting King James & Shakespeare.

And an allusion to the wrong Bible is not unheard of in medieval Jewish song, as you can see in "Cuando el Rey Nimrod".

Tamás: Yes indeed, as I have always thought when listening to, quoting and performing on the lute the song del Rey Nimrod myself. This is what I have referred to by saying “contamination”, a feature experienced quite frequently among the Yiddish-speaking Jews of my Eastern Europe.

2 December 2009

SAGReiss: Just out of curiosity I've checked the half a dozen instances of "go into the land of" Caanan/Egypt in the King James Bible. Martin Luther never uses "einstehen", and has no consistent way of translating this. The Hebrew is "yalak" (Strong's number 3212).

Kaufmann
          Haggadah (14th century Catalonia), King David's Blessing

1 December 2009

SAGReiss: I wonder why King David is holding the cup in his left hand. That seems like a big boo-boo. Maybe it's some kind of joke, or cabalistic allusion, or maybe the illustrator was left-handed and felt that was superior for writing from right to left, since you keep your hand out of the ink.

SAGReiss