A gute heym (A Good Home), Olshanetsky and Jacob Jacob’s song about the preciousness of a traditional family environment, was sung in William Seigel and Harry Kalmanowitz’s musical comedy In gortn fun libe (In the Garden of Love), produced and staged in 1926 at the National Theater in New York. In the absence of the script, we cannot know much of the plot or how the song fit into it—if at all. Apparently, the heroine (played by the celebrated Bella Meisel) is saved from a financially driven but unwanted or forced marriage by an eleventh-hour revelation of mistaken or hidden identity, and she is then able to be united instead with her true love, Misha.
By 1926 the play’s favorable conclusion was so predictable in the context of the standard Second Avenue fare that one reviewer commented, “There were no tears [even] from the women.” Veteran theatergoers knew that one way or another, the story would not end unhappily. The redeeming elements of the production appear to have resided, according to press reactions, in the humor provided by two supporting roles played by the character actors Hymie Jacobson and Betty Jacobs (wife of the lyricist) and, as was more often than not the case, in some of the music—including this song.
By: Neil W. Levin
Lyrics by Jacob Jacobs
I have written many songs,
but in my heart
only the song of the old country remains.
It is full of soul, and it brings me great solace
whenever I remember it.
A home is love, as everyone knows.
And one who has never had a home
feels a deep longing and realizes
that only he who has a home is happy.
A good home is a blessing from God.
A good home, whatever kind a person has.
What can be lovelier
than being in your own home
together with your mother and father?
Life can be all right elsewhere,
but it’s nothing like home.
Only life at home
with father and mother
is truly good.
Lyrics by Jacob Jacobs
kh’hob fil lider ongeshribn,
nor in mayn harts farblibn
iz nor dos lidl fun der alter heym.
es iz ful mit neshome, un es brengt mir fil nekhome
ven nor ikh dermon zikh in dem.
a heym iz lib, a yeden veyst men ale mol.
un nokh eynem vos hot nit gehat keyn heym keyn mol,
derfilt er aza benken un er nemt nokhdenken
az gliklekh iz nor der mentsh vos hot [a heym].
a gute heym iz a brokhe nor fun got.
a gute heym velkher mentsh nor es hot.
vos ken den nor zayn liber
vi in eygene shtiber
tsuzamen mit tate mame zayn.
in der fremd meg afile zayn vi gut.
dokh tsu keyn heym iz dos gor keyn glaykhn nit.
gut un bakvem iz dokh nor take ot dem
vos ken zikh voynen mit tate mame
in an eygener heym.
Composer: Alexander Olshanetsky
Genre: Yiddish Theater
Robert Bloch, Tenor;
Elli Jaffe, Conductor;
Vienna Chamber Orchestra
Date Recorded: 05/01/2001
Venue: Sofiensaele, Vienna, Austria
Engineer: Hughes, Campbell
Assistant Engineer: Weir, Simon
Project Manager: Schwendener, Paul
Publisher: Anita Olshanetsky Willens
Arranger/Orchestrator: Patrick Russ
Yiddish Translations/Transliterations: Eliyahu Mishulovin & Adam J. Levitin
Arrangement © Milken Family Foundation