Folksong. Text published by S. Ginzburg and P. Marek in 1901; words and music published in 90 geklibene yidishe folkslider, 1926. The text sometimes begins “Oyfn veg shteyt a boym.” Israeli musicologist lssachar Fater suggests that the song derives from the end of the ’70s of the 18th century, when Rabbi Menachem Mendl of Vitebsk and Rabbi Israel of Polotsk led a few hundred Hassidim to Palestine.
A children’s parody was published in the Mitteilungen zur judischen Volkskunde 22 (1907). Yiddish poet ltsik Manger used the first two lines in his popular song “Oyfn veg shteyt a boym” (On the Road a Tree Stands) expressing the love of a mother for her fledgling. Chava Lapin recalls a parody that the Halutsim (Pioneers) sang “Oyfn veg shteyt a boym, shteyt er ayngeboygn/ Fort a yid keyn erets-yisroel/ Mit tserisene hoyzn/ Got, got, groyser got,/ Du bist dokh a tate,/ Az mir vein mertse shem onkumen in erets-yisroel/ Vet men leygn a late.” (On the road a tree is bent, a Jew goes to Palestine in torn pants.-God, great God, You are a father. When we will, with luck, arrive in Palestine, we will put on a patch). Other Yiddish poets like Aaron Zeitlin and Zalman Schneour used these lines to portray strong images in their Holocaust poems. Schneour writes in “Lebn kloyster”: “Lebn kloyster shteyt a boym, / Shteyt er ayngeboygn, / Hengt oyf im der rev fun shtetl / Mit oysgepikte oygn” (Near the church a bent tree stands.On it the rabbi of the town hangs, with gouged out eyes).
A tree stands halfway down the road,
Stands bent over.
A Jew is traveling to Israel
With eyes full of tears.
God, dear God!
Let’s say the afternoon prayer.
When Jews will come to Israel,
There will be great rejoicing.
In mitn veg shteyt a boym,
Shteyt er ayngeboygn;
Fort a yid keyn erets-yisroel
Mit farveynte oygn.
Got, got, groyser got!
Lomir davnen minkhe,
Az yidn vein torn keyn erets-yisrol
Vet zayn sosn-vesimkhe! simkhe!
אין מיטן װעג שטײט אַ בױם,
שטײט ער אײַנגעבױגן,
פֿאָרט אַ ייִד קײן ארץ־ישׂראל
מיט פֿאַרװײנטע אױגן.
גאָט, גאָט, גרױסער גאָט!
לאָמיר דאַװנען מינחה,
אַז ייִדן װעלן פֿאָרן קײן ארץ־ישׂראל,
װעט זײַן שׂשׂון־ושׂימחה שׂימחה!
Song Title: In Mitn Veg Shteyt A Boym
The Songs of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song anthology comprises songs that were either never printed before or appeared in rare and inaccessible publications — sometimes in different versions and without proper sources. Most of the songs in this book were submitted by readers of Chana and Yosl’s column “Perl fun der yidisher poezye” (Pearls of Yiddish Poetry) in the Yiddish newspaper Der Forverts (The Forward), initiated in October, 1970. Over 25 years, thousands of songs were collected in correspondence and on cassettes from readers throughout the world, and they represent a veritable national Yiddish song archive. Chana Mlotek, in her introduction, writes, “In the course of years the inquiries, contributions and enthusiasm of these readers have kept our own interest unflagging and have reinforced our dedication to this effort. And in recent years our participants have also been augmented by new readers from the former Soviet Russia, who receive our newspaper there or from newly-arrived immigrants in this country and Israel.”