Solomon Golub’s Borukh ato, zingt der tate (Worshipped Are You, Papa Sings) is a setting of a poem by the famous Yiddish labor movement poet Avraham Reisin (1876–1953). The father’s expression of faith in God despite the hard conditions of his life, evident in the words “this stooped, tired man,” are typical of Reisin’s expressions of determination—though his sentiments in this regard were more politically than religiously driven. Here, this determination and optimism (“There is still something here, there remains much to love”) are renewed, if not reborn, with the experience of joy that surrounds the Hanukka celebration and his kindling of the Hanukka lights. For him, the sounds of Hanukka b’rakhot and songs, far from referring to something “long forgotten,” represent a modern analogy to the ancient Maccabean struggle, which, in the father’s sensibilities, is not a modern-day struggle for religious freedom, but a working-class struggle for economic and social justice. Thus he intuits in the Hanukka story a measure of holiness. The arrangement here is by William Zukof, whose countertenor voice is meant to recall that of a child in this particular rendition.
Sung in Yiddish
Poem: Avraham Reisen
"Borukh ato (worshipped are You)", the father sings
As he lights the candles.
And the mild, delicate light falls upon his pale face.
A fire that's precious and holy shines in his eyes;
And this stooped, tired man begins to stand erect.
And it seems to me -- and we believe it --
There still is something here, there remains much to love.
The hour is a holy one.
Old sounds, long forgotten?
But no, they are still resounding.
Sing father: "Borukh ato . . . ."
I am still your child.
Performers: The Western Wind
Translation: Abe and Gert Gershowitz
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