Page 158 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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ioned the legendary town of Kasrilevke with its happy-go-lucky
paupers to entertain the readers of the same pape r.16 Folklore
was life, and Jewish life would not stand still for the benefit
of Moscow and St. Petersburg cognoscenti.
What especially confused the self-styled guardians of the
folk’s purity were the
macaronic songs
they had collected. Where
did they come from, these songs that mixed Hebrew, Yiddish,
and Slavic, and what did they reveal about Jewish life in Eastern
Europe? Ginzburg and Marek believed that only linguistic hy­
brids could have produced a refrain the likes of
Mar goluseynu — perebudyem
Le’artseynu fort poydyom!
(How bitter our exile
— [but] we’ll make it through,
to our homeland
let’s be off! [No. 17]
in which the italicized words are Hebrew and the rest is Russian
and Yiddish. Did it mean that once upon a time the Jews of
Lithuania were fluent in Russian? Or were these songs the work
Nikolayever soldatn,
children who were inducted into Cantonist
brigades, then served their 25-year army stint, and ultimately
settled among the Slavic population (pp. 40-41)?
That these songs might have originated not on the periphery
but at the very center of Jewish religious life is something the
St. Petersburg secularists could not have imagined. Yet this is
precisely what amateur folklorist and passionate Yiddishist
Noyakh Prylucki discovered in a slim volume of
Yiddish Folksongs
that he dedicated to religious and holiday themes.17 Radicalizing
Engel’s position, he argued that the key to Jewish folk culture
and “folk psychology” lay in these macaronic and quasiliturgical
songs. As Yiddish was the culture of
the innermost
reaches of the Jewish religious soul was expressed through Has­
16. See “Yidishe folks-mayses” serialized in
Der yid
1 (1899), nos. 7:13-14,
17:11-12. Two o f the three stories were apparently taken from the German-
Jewish folklore journal
The impetus to include them, an editorial note
explained, was Ginzburg’s and Marek’s open letter on collecting Yiddish
Yidishe folkslider,
ed. Noyakh Prylucki, 1 (Warsaw: Bikher-far-ale, 1910).