Zumer Bay Hakht Oyf Di Dekher

Summer at Night on the Rooftops
זומער בײַ נאַכט אױף די דעכער

Words by Louis Gilrod (1879-1930) set to an English song “On a Good Old Trolley Ride,” published in the Lider-magazin, no.19, Hebrew Publishing Co., 1908. The song was adapted during the Holocaust to become a song about forgetting for a while about ghetto and concentration camp life. It was submitted by Sonia Tencer, Montreal, who recounts that after the war, she met a girl in Stuthof, Germany, with whom she had lived through the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto. The girl told Sonia that the following song was sung in the Camp in Kloge, Estonia:

“Zuntik bay nakht oyfn boydem/ lz dokh a vunderlekhe tsayt I Fargest on dem geto un lager/ Verst fun kloge bafrayt, / Dort kumt nit der saniteter I Me ken dortn ton vos men vil, / Me hot nit gelebt / Ver es iz nit geven / Zuntik bay nakht oyfn boydem” (Sunday night on the garret is such a wonderful time. You forget about the ghetto and camp, you become free of Kloge. There the inspector of the sick house doesn’t come. You can do whatever you want there. You haven’t lived, whoever has not been on the garret on Sunday night).

Illustration of musical notes from the books


From Chrystie (street) to Cannon
you should see the scenes
on a hot summer night.
From Broome Street and above,
at night on the rooftops,
it’s alive, it’s noisy – it’s wonderful!
People dance and kiss each other,
they sweat and wipe themselves off.
They drink a lot of soda water.
For boys and girls
it’s a real paradise
summer at night on the rooftops.

Summer at night on the rooftops
that is a golden time
they run from the tiny rooms, those holes,
they’re freed from “prison”
no policemen go there–
there you can do anything!
You haven’t seen anything really fine
if you haven’t been
on the rooftops in summer at night.

If you are looking for brides
with all kinds of assets,
then don’t think too much,
don’t ask for advice,
make a run for it,
and head straight up onto a roof.
You will soon find a sturdy gal,
she’ll soon stick to you, too,
she’ll let you clutch,
kiss and pet her,
summer at night on a rooftops.

Fun kristi biz kenen
Ir zolt zen di stsenen
In a heyser zumer nakht.
Fun brum-strit un hekher
Bay nakht oyf di dekher,
Es lebt zikh, es roysht zikh, a prakht.
Me tantst un me kusht zikh,
Me shvitst un me visht zikh,
Me trinkt sode-vaser a sakh.
Far boyes un meydn,
lz a varer gan-eydn
Zumer bay nakht oyf a dakh.

Zumer bay nakht oyf di dekher,
Dan iz a goldene tsayt,
Me loyft fun di rumkes, di lekher,
Me vert vi fun “prizn” bafrayt.
Ahin kumen nit keyn polislayt,
Dort meg men ton yede zakh!
Ir hot keyn sheyns nit gezen,
Oyb ir zayt nit geven
Zumer bay nakht oyf a dakh.

Koym zukht ir ver kales,
Mit alerley mayles,
Dan zolt ir nit trakhtn keyn sakh,
Fregt nit keyn eytses,
Nern di fis oyf di pleytses,
Un marsht bald aroyf oyf a dakh.
Ir vet shoyn dertapn
A moyd vi a lapn,
Klepn vet zi shoyn tsu’n aykh,
Zi lozt zikh a khap ton,
A kush un a glet ton
Zumer bay nakht oyf a dakh.

פֿון קריסטי ביז קענען
איר זאָלט זען די סצענען
אין אַ הײסער זומער נאַכט.
פֿון ברום־סטריט און העכער
בײַ נאַכט אױף די דעכער
עס לעבט זיך, עס רױשט זיך, אַ פּראַכט.
מע טאַנצט און מע קושט זיך,
מע שװיצט און מע װישט זיך,
מע טרינקט סאָדע־װאַסער אַ סך.
פֿאַר בױעס און מײדן
איז אַ װאַרער גן־עדן
זומער בײַ נאַכט אױף אַ דאָך.

זומער בײַ נאַכט אױף די דעכער,
דאַן איז אַ גאָלדענע צײַט,
מע לױפֿט פֿון די רומקעס, די לעכער,
מע װערט װי פֿון פּריזאָן באַפֿרײַט.
אַהין קומען ניט קײן פּאָליסלײַט,
דאָרט מעג מען טאָן יעדע זאַך!
איר האָט קײן שײנס ניט געזען,
אױב איר זײַט ניט געװען
זומער בײַ נאַכט אױף אַ דאַך:

קױם זוכט איר װער כּלות
מיט אַלערלײ מעלות,
דאַן זאָלט איר ניט טראַכטן קײן סך,
פֿרעגט ניט קײן עצות,
נעם די פֿיס אױף די פּלײצעס
און מאַרשט באַלד אַרױף אױף אַ דאַך.
איר װעט שױן דערטאַפּן
אַ מױד װי אַ לאַפּן,
קלעפּן װעט זי שױן צו׳ן אײַך,
זי לאָזט זיך אַ כאַפּ טאָן,
אַ קוש און אַ גלעט טאָן
זומער בײַ נאַכט אױף אַ דאַך.

Song Title: Zumer Bay Nakht Oyf Di Dekher

Composer: Unknown
Composer’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Lyricist: Louis Gilrod
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: לאָױס גילראָד
Time Period: Unspecified

This Song is Part of a Collection

Songs of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song

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.”

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