An unpublished song by popular Yiddish folk poet Mordkhe Gebirtig (1877-1942) kllled by the Nazis. The text is from a manuscript in the YIVO Archives. Gebirtig was the author of many song favorites like “Reyzele,” “Yankele.” “Moyshele, mayn fraynd” (Moyshele, my friend), “Dray tekhterlekh” (Three daughters). The song is in the repertoire of singer Mina Bern.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


Hershele, he lives in my memory,
and though he has been gone from me a long time
I still see him in his childhood years,
his voice still sounds to me like a sweet song.

Hershele, do you still remember
when we were both children?
Hereshele, do you still miss me,
have you ever seen me in a dream?
Hershele, do you still remember,
that old house with two little rooms?
How good it was
back then, to be with you,
when we both
lived in them;
How good it was
back then, to be with you.
Now you are far from me,
everything passes.

Hershele, we are playing together,
here we are, still two young children,
And my mother is beaming, smiling at
his mother, –
They will make a fine couple one day.

Hershele, do you still remember…

Hershele, now many years later,
is far away, it was not fated
for my mother’s wish to be fulfilled,
away, and [I] never saw him again.

Hershele, do you still remember,
that last night, the last “Farewell”?
Hershele, since that night
a wound has remained in my heart,
Hershele, do you remember,
you swore you will always be faithful to me?
How good it was
back then, to be with you
when you used to bring me flowers,
I still long for them.
How good it was
back then, to be with you,
And now, my heart tells me
it is all over.

Hershele, er lebt in mayn zikorn,
Un khotsh er iz avek fun mir shoyn lang,
Ze ikh im nokh in zayne kinderyorn,
Klingt nokh zayn kol mir vi a zis gezang.

Hershele, gedenkstu nokh,
Mir zaynen beyde kinderlekh geven?
Hershele, tsi benkstu nokh,
Tsi hostu ven in kholem mikh gezen?
Hershele, gedenkstu nokh
Dos alte hayzl, di kleyne shtiblekh tsvey,
Gut iz mir
Geven a mol mit dir,
Ven beyde hobn mir
Gevoynt in zey;
Gut iz mlr
Geven a mol mit dir, itst bistu vayt fun mlr,
Alts geyt farbay.

Hershele, mir shpiln zikh tsuzamen,
Ot zaynen mir nokh yunge kinder tsvey,
Un s’kvelt mayn mame, shmeykhlt tsu
zayn mamen, —
S’vet a sheyn porl zayn a mol fun zey.

Hershele, gedenkstu nokh. . .

Hershele, shoyn shpeter a sakh yorn
Iz vayt avek, bashert mir nisht geven,
Mayn mames vuntsh mekuyem nisht gevorn,
Avek un mer im keyn mol nlsht gezen.

Hershele, gedenkstu nokh
Di letste nakht, dem letstn ‘blayb gezunt’?
Hershele, zint yene nakht
Geblibn iz in hartsn mir a vund,
Hershele, gedenkstu nokh,
Du host geshvoyrn vest eybik zayn
mir tray?
Gut iz mir
Geven a mol mir dir
Flegst brengen blimlekh mir,
Kh’benk haynt nokh zey.
Gut iz mir
Geven a mol mit dir,
Un itst dos harts zogt mir,
Iz alts farbay.

הערשעלע, ער לעבט אין מײַן זיכּרון,
און כאָטש ער איז אַװעק פֿון מיר שױן לאַנג,
זע איך אים נאָך אין זײַנע קינדעריאָרן,
קלינגט נאָך זײַן קול מיר װי אַ זיס געזאַנג.

הערשעלע, געדענקסטו נאָך,
מיר זײַנען בײדע קינדערלעך געװען?
הערשעלע, צי בענקסטו נאָך,
צי האָסטו װען אין חלום מיך געזען?
הערשעלע, געדענקסטו נאָך
דאָס אַלטע הײַזל, די קלײנע שטיבלעך צװײ?
גוט איז מיר
געװען א מאָל מיט דיר,
װען בײדע האָבן מיר
געװױנט אין זײ;
גוט איז מיר
געװען אַ מאָל מיט דיר,
איצט ביסטו װײַט פֿון מיר,
אַלץ גײט פֿאַרבײַ.

הערשעלע, מיר שפּילן זיך צוזאַמען,
אָט זײַנען מיר נאָך יונגע קינדער צװײ,
און ס’קװעלט מײַן מאַמע, שמײכלט צו זײַן מאַמען, —
ס’װעט אַ שײן פּאָרל זײַן אַ מאָל פֿון זײ.

הערשעלע, געדענקסטו נאָך. . .

הערשעלע, שױן שפּעטער אַ סך יאָרן,
איז װײַט אַװעק, באַשערט מיר נישט געװען,
מײַן מאַמעס װוּנטש מקוים נישט געװאָרן,
אַװעק און מער אים קײן מאָל נישט געזען.

הערשעלע, געדענקסטו נאָך
די לעצטע נאַכט, דעם לעצטן ‘בלײַב געזונט’?
הערשעלע, זינט יענע נאַכט
געבליבן איז אין האַרצן מיר אַ װוּנד,
הערשעלע, געדענקסטו נאָך,
דו האָסט געשװױרן װעסט אײביק זײַן מיר טרײַ?
גוט איז מיר
געװען אַ מאָל מיט דיר,
פֿלעגסט ברענגען בלימלעך מיר,
כ’בענק הײַנט נאָך זײ.
גוט איז מיר
געװען אַ מאָל מיט דיר,
און איצט דאָס האַרץ זאָגט מיר,
איז אַלץ פֿאַרבײַ.

Song Title: Hershele

Composer: Mordkhe Gebirtig
Composer’s Yiddish Name: מרדכי געבירטיג
Lyricist: Mordkhe Gebirtig
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: מרדכי געבירטיג
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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