Zayt Gezunterheyt!

זײַט געזונטערהײט!

A bride’s farewell to her parents. Words published in 1901 by S. Ginsburg and P. Marek; words and music published in 1909 by Joel Engel and in 1911 by Z. Kisselgof.

Abraham M. Bernstein writes that klezmorim (musicians) played this melody at the end of the wedding when the in-laws would bid farewell and the mood was melancholy. Later, the melody changed into a happy one.

Sergei Prokofieff used the melody in his Overture on Hebrew Themes, Opus 34, composed in 1919. In that year, Prokofieff, who was on his first visit to the United States, went to Carnegie Hall for a concert by a group of former students of the St. Petersburg Conservatory and, as a result, Prokofieff became interested in Jewish themes. According to Nakhman Meisel, Simon Belilson, the head of the Zimroh Ensemble, gave Prokofieff a collection of Jewish melodies. Prokoflieff selected this and another for his overture. During his second visit to the United States, he adapted them for a small symphony orchestra. In 1946, the performance of the overture by the Carnegie Sextet received the Annual Recorded Music Award.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


Oh, fare well, my beloved parents!
I am going far away, on a road
to where no wind blows
where no bird flies,
and no cock crows.

Fare well, my beloved parents!
I am leaving you,
My God grant
you life and health,
and me a happy path.

Note: As ‘zayt gezunt’ are more the normal parting words, there’s a slight difference in emphasis here, which is conveyed here by deconstructing farewell into its original parts.

O, zayt gezunterheyt, mayne libe eltern!
lkh for avek in a vaytn veg,
Vu keyn vint veyt nit,
Un vu keyn feygele flit nit,
Un vu keyn hon kreyt nit.

Zayt gezunterheyt, mayne libe eltern!
Ikh for fun aykh avek,
Got zol gebn
Gezunt un lebn,
Un mir a gliklekhn veg!

אָ זײַט געזונטערהײט, מײַנע ליבע עלטערן!
איך פֿאָר אַװעק אין אַ װײַטן װעג,
װוּ קײן װינט װײט ניט,
און װוּ קײן פֿײגעלע פֿליט ניט,
און װוּ קײן האָן קרײט ניט.

זײַט געזונטערהײט, מײַנע ליבע עלטערן!
איך פֿאָר פֿון אײַך אַװעק,
גאָט זאָל געבן
געזונט און לעבן,
און מיר אַ גליקלעכן װעג!

Song Title: Zayt Gezunterheyt!

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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