Az Der Rebe Tantst

When the Rabbi Dances
אַז דער רבי טאַנצט

Folksong, partial text and music published in 1932 by A. Z. Idelsohn. Alternate title is Az Der Rebe Zingt (When the Rabbi Sings).

A variant in a children’s game song was published in 1916 by Joel Engel. There, instead of Hassidim, “talmidimlekh” (students) imitate “der rebe” (the teacher): “Un az der rebe shteyt… Un as der rebe shpringt…” (When the teacher walks… When the teacher stands… When the teacher jumps…). S. Altman’s version has additionally “Un az der rebe loyft’‘ and “Un az der rebe shvaygt” (When the teacher runs… when the teacher is silent).

There are other versions with the rabbi eating, drinking, laughing, coughing, sneezing, etc. In 90 geklibene lider, 1926 and in Selected Jewish Songs for Members of the Armed Forces, 1949. The melody was used in the Halutsim song “Vu bistu geven, tokhter mayne getraye?” (Where have you been, daughter, dearest mine?).

Illustration of musical notes from the books


When the Rebbe dances,
and when the Rebbe dances,
all the Hassidim dance,
all the Hassidim dance.

When the Rebbe sings,
and when the Rebbe sings,
all the Hassidim sing,
all the Hassidim sing.

When the Rebbe sleeps,
and when the Rebbe sleeps,
all the Hassidim sleep,
all the Hassidim sleep.

When the Rebbe laughs,
and when the Rebbe laughs,
all the Hassidim laugh,
all the Hassidim laugh.

Az der rebe tantst,
Un az der rebe tantst,
Tantsn ale khasidim,
Tantsn ale khasidim.

Az der rebe zingt,
Un az der rebe zingt,
Zingen ale khasidim,
Zingen ale khasidim.

Az der rebe shloft,
Un az der rebe shloft,
Shlofn ale khasidim,
Shlofn ale khasidim.

Az der rebe lakht,
Un az der rebe lakht,
Lakhn ale khasidim,
Lakhn ale khasidim.

אַז דער רבי טאַנצט,
און אַז דער רבי טאַנצט,
טאַנצן אַלע חסידים,
טאַנצן אַלע חסידים.

אַז דער רבי זינגט,
און אַז דער רבי זינגט,
זינגען אַלע חסידים,
זינגען אַלע חסידים.

אַז דער רבי שלאָפֿט,
און אַז דער רבי שלאָפֿט,
שלאָפֿן אַלע חסידים,
שלאָפֿן אַלע חסידים.

אַז דער רבי לאַכט,
און אַז דער רבי לאַכט,
לאַכן אַלע חסידים,
לאַכן אַלע חסידים.

Song Title: Az Der Rebe Tantst

Composer: Unknown
Composer’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Lyricist: Unknown
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Time Period: Unspecified

This Song is Part of a Collection

Pearls of Yiddish Song Cover with Illustration of musicians playing instruments

Pearls of Yiddish Song

First published in 1988 as Pearls of Yiddish Song: Favorite Folk, Art and Theatre Songs, this anthology contains 115 songs. Some material had never been published, while others, included in rare song collections or sheet music, were largely inaccessible. The songs presented reflect Jewish life in Eastern Europe and the United States and depict childhood, love, family celebrations, poverty, work and struggle. There are also songs from the Hasidic and Maskilic movements, songs of Zion and of America, as well as songs from the Yiddish theater.

The title of this anthology derives from the weekly two-page feature column “Pearls of Yiddish Poetry,” which the compilers Yosl and Chana Mlotek initiated in 1970 in the Yiddish newspaper Der Forvertz (the Yiddish Daily Forward). Hundreds of readers from around the world — including authors, composers, singers, actors — became co-participants in this collective folk project and recalled melodies, lines, fragments, stanzas and their variants of songs, poems, and plays which they had heard in their youth. At first, readers sent in only written material. Later, they also taped songs on cassettes, many of whose melodies had, until then, never been recorded. They also identified and supplied missing information regarding lyricists, poets, and composers and described the circumstances surrounding the songs’ origins, their dissemination, diffusion and impact.

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