Mayn Tate a Koyen

My Father a Cohen
מײַן טאַטע אַ כוהן
Illustration of musical notes from the books


I’m not afraid of you, big hero,
go ahead, hit me, try it!
As soon as my father hears about it,
then woe to you.

Because my father is a Cohen,
it’s no joke to him:
He can tear a man to pieces
when he gets angry.

Once, in the yard, Avreml
gave me a kick,
and my father, red with rage
went after him.

But Avreml was lucky –
just at that moment
his sick father died
oh, did he get lucky.

Because a Cohen must leave
the house where a corpse lies –
c’mon, hit me. Do you think
miracles like that always happen?

Kh’hob far dir, mayn held, keyn moyre,
Shlog mikh nor, prubir!
Koym dervist zikh dos mayn tate
lz dan vey tsu dir.

Vayl mayn tate iz a koyen,
S’iz mit im keyn shpas:
Er tseraysn ken a mentshn,
Ven er vert in kas.

Eyn mol hot in hoyf Avreml
Mir derlangt a shtoys,
Un mayn tate, royt fun tsorn,
lz tsu im aroys.

Nor a mazl hot Avreml­
Grod dem oygnblik
Shtarbt avek zayn kranker tate,
Oy, hot er a glik.

Vayl a koyen muz farlozn
S’hoyz vu s’ligt a mes —
Shlog mikh nor; du meynst, az tomid
Treft zikh aza nes?

כ’האָב פֿאַר דיר, מײַן העלד, קײן מורא,
שלאָג מיך נאָר, פּרוביר!
קױם דערװיסט זיך דאָס מײַן טאַטע, —
איז דאַן װײ צו דיר.

װײַל מײַן טאַטע איז אַ כוהן,
ס’איז מיט אים קײן שפּאַס:
ער צערײַסן קען אַ מענטשן,
װען ער װערט אין כּעס.

אײן מאָל האָט אין הױף אַבֿרהמל
מיר דערלאַנגט אַ שטױס,
און מײַן טאַטע, רױט פֿון צאָרן,
איז צו אים אַרױס.

נאָר אַ מזל האָט אַבֿרהמל —
גראָד דעם אױגנבליק
שטאַרבט אַװעק זײַן קראַנקער טאַטע,
אױ, האָט ער א גליק!

װײַל אַ כוהן מוז פֿאַרלאָזן
ס’הױז װוּ ם’ליגט א מת –
שלאָג מיך נאָר; דו מײנסט, אַז תּמיד
טרעפֿט זיך אַזא נם?

Song Title: Mayn Tate a Koyen

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

Mir Trogn Song Book Cover with Illustrations

Mir Trogn A Gezang: Favorite Yiddish Songs

First published in 1972, Mir Trogn A Gezang: Favorite Yiddish Songs was reprinted six more times (in 1977, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000) due to popular demand. The songs in this anthology represent a sampling of beloved folk and well-known Yiddish songs, many of which are scattered in various song collections; some appear in very rare and inaccessible collections; and some were never before published. Folk songs comprise about a third of this volume and were selected mainly on the basis of popularity and sometimes for their historic significance. Needless to say, they are only representative of the vast, rich treasure of Yiddish folk material. The selection was made not only on the basis of personal preference, but in the knowledge they are favorites of many who sing these songs. Most of the songs represent the repertoire that was sung at Yiddish summer camps, May 1st demonstrations and at social gatherings. Many songs were introduced to American Jewry by Jewish immigrants who came to the United States after World War II, for whom these songs had been favorites in Poland and other East European communities destroyed by the Nazis.

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