This song was first presented al the second public theatre performance in the Vilno ghetto in February, 1942. Words are by Leyb Rozental (See note about author in lkh Benk Aheym). Composer Misha Veksler (1907-1943), the conductor of the Jewish theatre orchestra in the Vilno ghetto, met his death during the liquidation of the ghetto in September, 1943.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


Hey, come and buy tobacco,
Come buy my saccharin,
These days the stuff is selling cheap as dirt.
A life for just a penny.
One cent is what I earn
About the ghetto peddler have you heard!

I’m called Yisrolik,
A kid right from the ghetto,
I’m called Yisrolik,
A reckless kind of guy.
Though I’m left with less than nothing,
Still a whistle and song is my reply!

A coat without a collar,
A shirt made from a sack;
I have galoshes – haven’t got the shoes.
Whoever finds this funny,
Whoever dares to laugh —
I’ll show them that I’m not one to abuse!

I’m called Yisrolik . . .

Don’t think the gutter spawned me,
Don’t think I have no claim —
A mother and a father loved me too.
Both were taken from me,
It’s useless to complain,
But like the wind I’m lonely, it is true.

I’m called Yisrolik,
And when no one is looking,
From my eyes
I wipe away a tear.
But this anguish
Is not for speaking,
Why remember,
How much can one heart bear?

Nu koyft zhe papirosn,
Nu koyft zhe sakharin,
Gevorn iz haynt skhoyre bilik vert.
A lebn far a groshn,
A prute — a fardinst —
Fun geto-hendler hot ir dokh gehert.

Kh’heys Yisrolik
lkh bin dos kind fun geto,
Kh’heys Yisrolik
A hefkerdiker yung.
Khotsh farblibn gole neto
Derlang ikh alts nokh
A svistshe un a zung!

A mantl on a kragn,
Takhtoynim fun a zak,
Kaloshn hob ikh — s’feln nor di shikh.
Un ver es vet nor vagn
Tsu lakhn, oy, a sakh —
Dem vel ikh nokh vayzn ver bin ikh!

Kh’heys Yisrolik . . .

Nit meynt mikh hot geboyrn
Di hefkerdike gas —
Bay tate-mame oykh geven a kind.
Kh’hob beydn ongevorn,
Nit meynt es iz a shpas,
Kh’bin geblibn vi in feld der vint.

Kh’heys Yisrolik,
Nor ven keyner zet nit
Vish ikh shtil zikh
Fun oyg arop a trer.
Nor fun mayn troyer —
Beser az men redt nit,
Tsu vos dermonen
Un makhn s’harts zikh shver.

נו קױפֿט זשע פּאַפּיראָסן,
נו קױפֿט זשע סאַכאַרין,
געװאָרן איז הײַנט סחורה ביליק װערט.
אָ לעבן פֿאַר אַ גראָשן.
אַ פּרוטה — אַ פֿאַרדינסט —
פֿון געטאָ־הענדלער האָט איר דאָך געהערט.

כ׳הײס ישׂראליק
איך בין דאָס קינד פֿון געטאָ,
כ׳הײס ישׂראליק
אַ הפֿקרדיקער יונג.
כאָטש פֿאַרבליבן גאָלע נעטאָ
דערלאַנג איך אַלץ נאָך
אַ סװיסטשע און אַ זונג!

אַ מאַנטל אָן אַ קראָגן,
תּחתּונים פֿון אַ זאַק,
קאַלאָשן האָב איך, — ס׳פֿעלן נאָר די שיך.
און װער עס װעט נאָר װאַגן
צו לאַכן, אױ אַ סך —
דעם װעל איך נאָך װײַזן װער בין איך!

כ׳הײס ישׂראליק. . .

ניט מײנט מיך האָט געבױרן
די הפֿקרדיקע גאַס —
בײַ טאַטע־מאַמע אױך געװען אַ קינד.
כ׳האָב בײדן אָנגעװאָרן,
ניט מײנט עס איז אַ שפּאַס,
כ׳בין געבליבן, װי אין פֿעלד דער װינט.

כ׳הײס ישׂראליק,
נאָר װען קײנער זעט ניט
װיש איך שטיל זיך
פֿון אױג אַראָפּ אַ טרער.
נאָר פֿון מײַן טרױער —
בעסער אַז מען רעדט ניט,
צו װאָס דערמאָנען
און מאָכן ס׳האַרץ זיך שװער.

Song Title: Yisrolik

Composer: Misha Veksler
Composer’s Yiddish Name: מישאַ װעקסלער
Lyricist: Leyb Rozental
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: לײב ראָזענטאַל
Time Period: Unspecified

This Song is Part of a Collection

We Are Here Book Cover with Illustrations of a red rising sun

We Are Here: Songs of the Holocaust

Compiled by sisters Malke Gottleib and Chana Mlotek, this collection of 40 songs, issued on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, reflects the suffering, despair, longing, as well as the strength, hope and courage that led the last remnant of enfeebled Jews to take up arms against the mammoth Nazi war-machine. Save for five songs, this compilation comprises songs that were actually written or sung in the ghettos and concentration camps. Four exceptions written after the war: “Babi Yar,” “Moyshelekh un Shloymelekh,” “Kadish,” and “Mayn mame hot gevolt zayn oyf mayn khasene” are often presented at commemorative gatherings and were therefore included. The fifth song “Am Yisroel Khay” was written in a D.P. camp and is an affirmation of the will of the survivors to build new lives for themselves, holding high their belief in the endurance of the Jewish people. To enable readers and singers not conversant with the Yiddish alphabet to utilize this collection, We Are Here! Songs of the Holocaust provides parallel transliterations and singable English translations by Roslyn Bresnick Perry.

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