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Zog es mir nokh amol 02:51
 

Liner Notes

Zog es mir nokh amol, with lyrics by Jacob Jacobs, is a song from Ellstein and Israel Rosenberg’s operetta Der berditchever khosn (The Bridegroom from Berditchev), which starred Ludwig Satz and Zina Goldstein and opened the 1930–31 season at the Public Theatre in New York.

The plot is set in the Ukranian city of Berditchev prior to the First World War. It was the custom throughout eastern Europe for well-to-do merchant-class households to provide meals for out-of-town students at local yeshivas, with specific nights assigned to each of them on a weekly basis. In this play, a yeshiva student named Avremele is assigned his weekly esn teg (eating day) at the home of such a wealthy Jew, Isaac Varshavsky, who has pursued worldly cultured enlightenment—having sent his children to Paris for secular education—while still fully observant of traditional Jewish life and law and a member of the religious community. Avremele falls in love with Varshavsky’s daughter, Reizele, but he conceals this from her father, as well as his secret ambition to become a painter. A more socially and economically suitable student from her own circle, Boris, is also in love with her, but she is ambivalent about Boris’s marriage proposal.

During a party for Reizele at her home, her parents and other adults step out, leaving the young people celebrating on their own. Meanwhile, Avremele shows up for his esn teg meal. Reizele’s friends, knowing of his feelings for her, tease him by staging a mock wedding ceremony, with her complicity, simply as a party joke. Her father returns home just as the mock ritual has been completed. Astounded, he informs Reizele that joke or not, she is now legally married according to the provisions of Jewish law (since the prescribed words have been said in the presence of legally acceptable witnesses), and she must get a get (a bill of divorce) from Avremele. Avremele refuses, even when offered various enticements. In Jewish law, a married woman cannot be divorced if she cannot obtain a bill of divorce directly from a husband known or presumed to be alive—in which case she is known as an aguna. As a man who refused to give his wife a get, Avremele would become a pariah in the community, subject to ostracism, and perhaps even harm. So he runs away to Italy to study painting. Isaac manages through unspecified means to secure a rabbinical annulment of the marriage, but after two years Avremele returns as a famous painter to find that Reizele is about to be married to Boris. Avremele gives her a picture he has painted of her in Italy, demonstrating that he has never forgotten her. Reizele asks his forgiveness—telling him that in the end, he is the most charming of all suitors. In the song Zog es mir nokh amol (Tell Me Again), Avremele pleads with her to marry him (properly, this time). He sings that he will do anything to gain favor in her father’s eyes: become a Zionist (presumably like Isaac), or return to religious orthodoxy. Most important in the song is Avremele’s plea to Reizele to repeat what she has just told him, having longed for more than two years to hear it: “Tell me again, oh, tell me again, I’d like to hear those beautiful words from you. Tell it to me again.” Following the song, Reizele goes off to the marriage canopy with Avremele instead of Boris.

The review in the Forverts, the largest Yiddish daily newspaper, criticized the play as tired and uninventive, but the music was praised as the redeeming element: “The operetta is full of beautiful melodies composed by the young Abe Ellstein.”

By: Neil W. Levin

 

Lyrics

Lyrics by Jacob Jacobs

If I would only be fit
to find favor in your eyes,
the whole world would already be mine.
I would sing “Hatikvah” [Become a Zionist]
and would even go to the mikvah [be religious],
just so you will be together with me. I would cut a deal
to become a slave to your father,
like Jacob was to Laban.
I would suffer all kinds of terror
and would even milk the cows,
so long as I would always be able to see you.

Tell me again,
oh, tell me again,
for I’d like to hear
those beautiful words from you.
Tell it to me again,
oh, tell it to me again,
for your words bring me joy
and give me constant encouragement.

My heart is overflowing
with such great joy
of having lived to hear
such words from you.
Tell it to me again,
oh, tell me again.
Oh, my heart, my dear,
Tell it to me again.

Lyrics by Jacob Jacobs

ven ikh zol zikh nor oystoygn,
gefinen kheyn in dayne oygn
volt di gantse velt geven shoyn mayn.
ikh volt gezungen di “hatikvo,”
zikh ge’toyvl’t in der mikve,
abi du zolst mit mir in eynem zayn.

ikh volt gemakht a mase-matn,
a knekht gevorn bay dayn tatn,
vi yankev iz bay lovnen geven.
ikh volt gelitn ale eymes,
un gemolkn di beheymes,
abi ikh zol dir shtendik kenen zen.

zog es mir nokh a mol,
oy, zog es mir nokh a mol
vayl ikh bin gern tsu hern
di sheyne verter fun dir.
zog es mir nokh a mol,
oy, zog es mir nokh a mol
vayl dayne reydn brengt freydn
un git mir mut on a shier.

mayn harts es vakst in mir
atsinder fun groys freyd
az ikh hob derlebt tsu hern
fun dir azelkhe reyd—
zog es mir nokh a mol,
oy, zog es mir nokh a mol
oy, nekhomele, nekhomele
zog es mir nokh a mol.


 

Credits

Composer: Abraham Ellstein

Length: 02:51
Genre: Yiddish Theater

Performers: Bruce Adler, Tenor;  Barcelona Symphony-National Orchestra of CataloniaElli Jaffe, Conductor;  David Krakauer, Clarinet

Date Recorded: 06/15/2001
Venue: Sala Sinfonica del Auditori (A), Barcelona, Spain
Engineer: Hughes, Campbell
Assistant Engineer: Kornacher, Bertram
Assistant Engineer: Weir, Simon
Project Manager: Schwendener, Paul

Additional Credits:

Publisher: Music Sales Corp.
Arrangers: Patrick Russ/Zalmen Mlotek
Orchestrator: Patrick Russ
Yiddish Translations/Transliterations: Eliyahu Mishulovin & Adam J. Levitin
Arrangement © Milken Family Foundation

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