Shlof zhe mir shoyn, Yankele mayn sheyner!
Di eygelekh di shvartsinke, makh tsu!
A yingele vos hot shoyn ale tseyndlekh
Muz nokh di mame zingen ayliuliu!

Go to sleep, Yankele, my little one!
Close your little dark eyes!
A little boy who's got all his teeth,
Yet his mother still has to sing "ayluli" to him!

A yingele vos hot shoyn ale tseyndlekh
Un vet mit mazl bald in kheyder geyn
Un lernen vet er khumesh un gemore
Zol veynen ven di mame vigt im ayn!

A little boy who's got all his teeth,
And with some luck will soon go to school,
And he'll study the Bible and the Talmud,
Yet he cries when his mother rocks him to sleep!

A yingele vos lernt vet gemore
Or shteyt der tate, kvelt un hert im tsu
A yingele vos vakst a talmid khokhem
Lozt gantse nekht di mame nisht tsu ru!

A young boy who's already learning the Talmud,
Here stands his father full of pride,
A young boy who's growing up to be a man of learning,
Shouldn't he let his mother rest at night?

A yingele vos vakst a talmid kokhem
Un a geniter soykher oykh tsu glaych
A yingele, a kluger khosn bokher
Zol lign azoy nas vi in taykh!

A young boy growing up to be a man of learning,
And a clever businessman,
A young boy, already a handsome bridegroom
And yet he's as wet as a stream!

Nu shlof zhe mir, mayn kluger khosn bokher
Dervayl ligstu in vigele bay mir!
S'vet kostn nokh fil mames trern
Bit vanen s'vet mentsh aroys fun dir!

Go to sleep now, my handsome bridgeroom,
For now, lie near me in the cot.
Many tears will mother shed
Before you become a man!

Shlof zhe mir shoyn...

Go to sleep...

Yankele is a song from the CD "Chansons yiddish, Yankele" by Moshe Leiser, Ami Flammer and Gerard Barreaux. It was recorded in Lyon on February 2, 1994 and is published by "Opus 111", Paris, ref. OPS 30-107. The song Yankele is on track 8.

From the comments in the booklet by Moshe Leiser:

"... from my childhood I had been brought up with this music constantly around me, and had also been a member of the choir at the Antwerp Synagogue...
... an attempt to preserve the cries and laughter which led to the birth of this music."

"I imagine there are bound to be a few grammar mistakes here and there. Moreover, it is very likely that some people will hear slightly different words from what they are used to. This is bound to be so, since we do not claim to provide historical authenticity or linquistic purity. What we try to do is to put forward what is true and to bring out the music's real values by expressing the infinite pain with which it is imbued, the pain which arose from the tragedy which wiped off the face of the earth so many millions of people to whom Yiddish belonged. All these people exist no more. The songs, even the happiest of them, speak to us of this terrible void."

Kafka about Yiddish:

Yiddish is the youngest of European languages. It is only four hundred years old, and if truth be told, it is a lot younger than that. It has not been developed into any form endowed with the clarity we would require of it. It has no grammar.

It is made up entirely of foreign terms and expressions, but even though these are not absolutely fixed with the language itself, they retain all the vivacity and the haste with which they were purloined. Yiddish is permeated from one end to the other with the migrations of peoples. All this German, Hebrew, French, English, Slav, Dutch, Rumanian and even Latin is imbued in Yiddish with a blend of a happy-go-lucky and enquiring state of mind - and it requires no little strength to maintain a language in this sort of condition.

For Yiddish to be easy of access to you, it is enough for you to meditate on the fact that quite apart from the knowledge with which you are endowed, there are within you forces and relationships which are thorougly alive and enable you to understand Yiddish by feeling it.
Just remain quit, and suddenly you will find yourselves right in the middle of Yiddish. And once you have been moved by the language - for Yiddish is everything, words, the Hassidic melody and the profound reality of the Yewish actor himself - you will no longer recognize the calm you used to experience. You will be in a position to feel what is the true unity of Yiddish, and you will feel it so violently that you will be frightened, not of Yiddish but of yourselves. You would be quite unable to bear that fear if Yiddish did not immediately communicate to you that confidence in yourselves which enables you to stand up to fear and which shows itself to be stronger than that fear. Enjoy the experience as best you can! And if it should be forgotten, tomorrow or later - and how in fact could the memory of it be retained simply on the strength of a single evening's listening? -, it is my wish that you will at least be able to forget the fear as well. For it was not our intention to punish you.

Quoted from the booklet that came with the cd. It actually is a translation by John Sidgwick of parts out of "Franz Kafka, An Address on the Yiddish Language".

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