Page 173 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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Ven undzer folk yisroel
zol zayn vi a mol
un zikh nit shemen mit dem nomen yid
Volt men umetum
gehat respekt far im
Un es volt geven undz alts voyl un gut . . . .
Az Yidishkayt darf zayn dem yidn tayer
Yidishkayt dos getlekhe fayer
vos es hit im un bashitst im.
Yidishkayt ken keyner nit opmekn
Yidishkayt af der velt in ale ekn
Khotsh di sonim kenen dos nit zen
Dokh vet Yidishkayt keyn mol nit untergeyn!
If only our Jewish people behaved as it once did
without shame for bearing the name o f Jew,
then people everywhere
would treat Jews with respect
and all would be well.
Jews should cherish their Yidishkayt
It’s the sacred flame
That protects them . . . .
Yidishkayt cannot be erased
It flourishes on all corners o f the earth
Though the enemy cannot stand its sight
Yidishkayt will never be destroyed!
Obviously, one does not expect a musical comedy to provide
a theological gloss on what this
means precisely. But
the fierce note of national pride is unmistakable, and one longs
for the day when our born-again klezmorim will feel comfort­
able enough in their own artistic identity to include this side
of Aaron Lebedev’s repertoire as well. Meanwhile, from other
songs that Lebedev made famous, one may conclude, at the
very least, that
A yidish meydl darf a yidishn hoy,
that Jews should
marry in and not out.
Which brings us, finally, to that which has been lost with the
demise of Second Avenue. First of all, American Jews have lost
the subtle art of spoofing that which they hold most sacred.
Second Avenue preserved and perfected the art of Jewish par­
ody. God knows, in a time when a religious zealot can sentence
a writer to death for blasphemy, Jews can take solace in their
tolerance for a sacrilegious joke.