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Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele

11 Feb 99 - 05:06 AM (#58129)
Subject: Lyr/Tune Add: VU IZ DOS GESELE
From: Joe Offer

I came across fiddle music for this haunting tune, but the lyrics don't seem quite right. Can anybody supply the correct lyrics? A translation would help, too. I like to think I can get a general understanding of Yiddish, but my friend Mrs. Lev doesn't think that German speakers could possibly understand Yiddish correctly.
Mrs. Lev learned a Russian, not Yiddish, version of this song; but she doesn't understand Russian and has never seen it written down. Anybody got Russian lyrics and a translation?

Vu Iz Dos Gesele

Vu Iz Dos Gesele, vu iz di shtib
Un vu iz dos Meidele, vos ich hob lib?
Ot, do iz dos Gesele, do iz di shtib,
Do iz dos Meidele, vos ich hob lib?
Ot, do iz dos Gesele, do iz di shtib,
Do iz dos Meidele, vos ich hob lib?

Vu iz dos Taichele, vu iz di mir?
Un vu iz dos Derfele, vu iz di Shif?
Ot, do iz di Taichele, do iz di mir?
Do iz dos Derfele, do iz di Shif.
Ot, do iz di Taichele, do iz di mir?
Do iz dos Derfele, do iz di Shif.

Arain in dos Shtibl, main Veitik iz grois,
Altz iz geblibn, a Churm iz do Bloiz.
Nishto mer dos Gesele, nishto mer di Shtib,
Nit mer dos Meidele, vem ich hob lib;
Nishto mer dos Gesele, nishto mer di Shtib,
Nit mer dos Meidele, vem ich hob lib.

ABC format:

T:Vu Iz Dos Gesele

Click to play

To play or display ABC tunes, try

11 Feb 99 - 09:30 AM (#58146)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Barbara

What's this, Joe; collecting in the field already!?

11 Feb 99 - 04:06 PM (#58221)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Joe Offer

Well, yes, Barbara, Mrs. Lev is a treasure. She and Alan, her significant other, are the septuagenarian folkie friends I've spoken of in other threads. I asked one time whether they're married or "modern" - they're modern. Mrs. Lev is a ball of fire about four feet tall, full of songs and stories that she wants to pass on to Claudia and me, so we can preserve the "old songs." She has told me half a dozen times about how Pete Seeger visited for dinner, and how she went to visit Aunt Molly Jackson. She has a new song for me to learn or to research every time I see her. Alan, a soft-spoken bohemian sort who can make a flugelhorn sing, makes me tapes from his vast collection of old folk music records. I intend to learn everything they can teach me.
-Joe Offer-

12 Feb 99 - 10:41 PM (#58383)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Annraoi

Would they have any Macaronic songs, Yiddish / English or Russian / English, or any mixture ? Or do they know if such ever existed in their tradition ? Annraoi

13 Feb 99 - 04:01 AM (#58401)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Joe Offer

Anything in particular, Annaroi? Mrs. Lev knows lots of Russian and Yiddish songs. I saw her tonight, but won't see her again for about 6 weeks. Let me know what you're looking for, and I'll ask.
-Joe Offer-

...but I'm still looking for a translation, corrections to this text, and the Russian text & translation.

14 Feb 99 - 06:22 AM (#58529)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Philippa

Hi Joe! If you've forgotten all about macaronic songs click here for the long Macarуnachas / Macaronic Songs thread I think there was a bit about Yiddish/English language mixing in the Tzena, Tzena thread. Russian/Yiddish would be another possible combination

14 Feb 99 - 06:25 AM (#58530)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele/Am I the klutz?
From: Philippa

I thought I did type in the to limit the purple prose; perhaps I inadvertently deleted it when I added in the bit about the spelling change after I'd written all the rest?

14 Feb 99 - 06:40 AM (#58532)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: klutz

I just had to return to the web when I realised my errors: 1) that I'd left out the '/a' 2)and that you wouldn't actually see that in the previous message because of the symbols I put round it. Into the dummy corner or the remedial html class
Any more songs from Mr and Mrs Lev?
The sun's shining and I'm away out to enjoy it. 'See' you all later.

19 Feb 99 - 04:56 PM (#59278)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Joe Offer

Say, I'm still looking for a translation and corrected transliteration of this song. Anybody?
Klutz, so far, all of the songs I've learned from Mrs. Lev and her companion are also in the Digital Tradition. It's better to learn songs from a person, but it sure is nice to have that database.
-Joe Offer-

02 Apr 99 - 07:29 PM (#67692)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Joe Offer

....still looking for a Yiddish-Russian expert that can tell me more about this song and correct and translate the lyrics.
-Joe Offer-

02 Apr 99 - 08:02 PM (#67706)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Annraoi

And I am still looking for songs with mixed-language lyrics. Annraoi

06 Apr 99 - 03:01 PM (#68541)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Joe Offer

Uh, oh, I'm getting mildly desperate. I'm singing with Mrs. Lev on Friday, and I still don't have a definite answer on this. I did find a $30 songbook on the Web that's supposed to have the song, but even a compulsive songbook buyer such as I needs more than one song to motivate a buy....
Oh, dear, am I going to have to disappoint Mrs. Lev?
-Joe Offer-

06 Apr 99 - 05:50 PM (#68603)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Uilleand

I took a stab at the translation, but you really have to consult a yiddish dictionary. Some of the words seem obvious as German but mean something completely different.

Where is the street, where is the room And where is the girl that I love? There is the street, there is the room There is the girl that I love. (2X)

Where is the little pond, where is the (?)? And where is the little village, where is the (?)? There is....

Come into the room, my (?) is (?). (?) remains,..... .... Not the girl anymore that I love.

And then something about "not anymore".

Sorry I couldn't do any better. Tried to find a dictionary on the web, but there was nothing comprehensive.

So yes as someone said earlier, a German can't translate Yiddish just by virtue of the similarities of the languages. It only works sometimes.

Hope this helps at least some.


06 Apr 99 - 06:10 PM (#68611)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Joe Offer

That helps a lot, Uilleand. My German is pretty good and I was able to guess at a lot of it, but you filled in a lot of the gaps.
-Joe, still looking for more...-

07 Apr 99 - 05:07 PM (#68899)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Wolfgang

(uneducated) guesses (I'm about as sure as Uilleand):

second verse: ?: sea ?: ship

third verse:

line 3: no more the street, no more the room

Joe, could there be a typo in line 1 of that verse "Alain", that is "alone", makes more sense to me in the context of that song to give roughly in German:
Allein in dem Stьbchen, mein ? ist groЯ,
als ist geblieben, ein ? ist da blos


07 Apr 99 - 09:30 PM (#68946)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Joe Offer

I dunno, Wolfgang. The only Yiddish I can even attempt to read is phonetically transliterated. It's supposed to be written in Hebrew letters. The pronunciation is similar to German, but certainly not exactly the same. I've been trying to learn Kiddish pronunciation by listening to Klezmer CD's (The female lead singer in the Klezmer Conservatory Band has a marvelous voice, by the way). Unfortunately, I don't have a recording of this song, and I still haven't found a really reliable text. I'm still looking. Maybe I'll have to buy the book.

07 Apr 99 - 09:37 PM (#68952)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Allan S.

I hope this helps Its not exact and some of the words I am not sure of

Where is the small street where is the house And where is the little girl that I love here is the street here is the house Here is the little girl that I love

THwew is the ? why am I hereWhere is the ?? Where is the ship Here is the ?? Here I am Here is the ? Here is the ship

In the house my pain is great Everything is Believeable /Past? or Everything is ? Now Blood? No more is the girl that I loved no more is the street no more is the house no more is the girl that I loved

18 Apr 99 - 03:26 PM (#71785)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele

From Irene Heskes, Yiddish American Popular Songs 1895 to 1950: A Catalog Based on the Lawrence Marwick Roster of Copyright Entries, Library of Congress, Washington, 1992. Entry #1934, p. 274.

Du bist mayn harts/hehrts, mayn glik and Vi iz dos geseleh from the Musical Mashe, oder Margarita
Ros. no. 10677
Copr. no. E637791; Mar. 1/May 15, 1926
Mus.: Samuel Secunda
Lyr.: Israel Rosenberg
Prop./pub.: Samuel Secunda; Hopkinson Theater
Piano and voice. Two songs: "You are my heart, my happiness" and "Where is the little street (where you live)" from "Mashe or Margarita (heroine's both names)." Libretto: Israel Rosenberg. Sheet music: sold as souvenir at the theater; cover design (unsigned), with photos of Rosenberg, Secunda, and perf. Lucy German and Misha German; cast roster (in Heb./Yid. char. and Eng.) and verses in Heb./Yid. char., all on back cover.

---end of citation---

So this comes from a 1926 opera by Samuel (Sholom) Secunda, who also wrote "Bei/Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn," later made famous by the Andrew sisters. The fact that it comes from a Yiddish opera should not disqualify it as folk music--many of the Yiddish songs that people think of as folksongs, such as "Rozhinkes mit Mandlen" (Raisins with Almonds) also come from similar operas.

Using a web search, I found recordings currently available of "Vi iz dos geseleh" by Jan Peerce and the Barry Sisters.

--Charlie Baum

19 Apr 99 - 02:09 AM (#71922)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Joe Offer

Ah, Charlie, I knew you'd come through with something good. thanks a lot.
Still looking for a more accurate transliteration and full translation of the lyrics. Anyone?
-Joe Offer-

22 Apr 99 - 11:47 PM (#72877)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Charlie Baum

Part aleph (one):

Well, at last already I got my hands on a Yiddish-English Verterbuch, and figured I could finally try to translate "Vu iz dos gesele." But I couldn't figure out some of the transliterated words, so in a rabbinical way, I tried to retransliterate the line that didn't make sense: something like:

Alain in dos Shtib, mein Veitik is groiz
Altz yitzt geblibn, a Churbn iz do Bloiz

Alone in the room, my pain is large,
All that now remains, a disaster that is dim

Churbn is one of those Yiddsh words with Hebrew roots, so a knowledge of German does you no good.

Where is the little street? Where is the room?
And where is the maiden for whom I have love?
Here is the little street, here is the room
Here is the maiden for whom I have love.

Where is the little brook? Where is the sea?
Where is the village? Where is the ship?
Here is the little brook. Here is the sea.
Here is the village. Here is the ship.

Around/alone in the room, my pain is large,
All that now remains, a disaster that is dim
No more the little street, no more the room
No more the maiden, for whom I have love.

I'm not sure if these are really the words; it's based on a fair amount of guesswork as to what the original Yiddish really is.

Part bais (two):

So I see this cassette tape, and it's a real bargain, and on it there are the Barry Sisters (nee Bagelman) singing Yiddish songs, including "Vi iz dus gesele." So I get the tape, and give it a listen, figuring at last, I'll have the real words to the song and I can translate it properly at last. Bad news and good news: The bad news is that they sing a different set of words that the ones reported above--but, hey, that's the folk process! The good news is that after singing two verses in Yiddish, they sing a verse in English. Who is responsible for the translation I don't know (the liner notes are less than minimal), and while it perhaps captures the spirit of the song, it is in no way an accurate translation of the Yiddish words, but the translation IS singable. (If you want to hear it yourself, the tape is The Barry Sisters Sing, D-5858, available from Tara Publications at And it turns out that there's a wonderful tune, in waltz rhythm; but from Sholom Secunda, I would have expected a great tune.

Being women, they sing the first verse more or less like our informants, but switch the genders: where is the young man for whom I have love?
Their second verse translates as:
Around in the room, my pain is great
Another maid sits on his lap
Around in the room, my pain is great
There is my young man, uncoupled already.

Then they sing their English verse:

Where is the village, the place of my youth?
Where is the boy who kissed me with a truth?
Where are the young hearts that sang unafraid?
Where are the visions and where have they strayed?
[then some Dai, Dai, Dai's and a coda:]
. . . All is but a memory.

--Sholom Mayer ben Chaim (a/k/a Charlie Baum)

23 Apr 99 - 01:50 AM (#72899)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Joe Offer

Ah, Charlie, you are a gentleman and a scholar. And very entertaining, to boot.
Thank you very much.
-Joe Offer-

23 Apr 99 - 02:33 AM (#72904)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Mark Roffe

A mensch and a talmudic scholar, it seems. Thanks for the link to


06 Nov 01 - 05:07 PM (#586998)
From: Joe Offer

I came across this in a Malvina Reynolds songbook.
-Joe Offer-

(Malvina Reynolds)

There is a bird flies around in the sky
Wheeling and turning to try and espy
The smoke from the chimney, the windows that shine
In the house of the girl who is mine.

Where is the little street, where is the door,
Where is the house that my heart's longing for?
Where is the little street, where is the door,
Where is the girl that I love?

Just like that bird I have wandered around,
Hoping that somewhere that house could be found,
That little house, on that little street
Where she's waiting, my darling, my sweet

© 1959, Schroder Music Co.

ABC format:

T:Where Is the Little Street


Click to play

To play or display ABC tunes, try

07 Nov 01 - 11:00 PM (#587992)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: GUEST,chrisj

This is a most interesting thread for someone like myself who is so ignorant of Yiddish culture. At the risk of 'drifting' what are the origins of this language?

08 Nov 01 - 04:48 AM (#588099)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: Wolfgang

In addition to questions of medical interest, there are many interesting possibilities concerning the origin of Ashkenazi populations and how they migrated in Europe. It seems likely that Jews began to arrive in Eastern Europe perhaps 1,000-1,200 years ago, when settlement was already sufficiently developed to provide them with opportunities to make a living.

One theory claims that the Jews of Eastern Europe derive predominantly from Jewish migrants from the Rhineland or from Italy, being fairly direct descendants of the original ancient Jewish / Hebrew populations.

A second theory suggests a northerly migration from the Balkans or from Central Asia, with the possibility of large scale conversions of Slavs and/or Kuzars to Judiasm.

This argument parallels the controversy over the origin and development of Yiddish – the language of Eastern European Jews. One theory proposes that Jews migrating from the Rhineland and neighboring regions spoke an old form of German which was to provide the basis of Yiddish.

Other scholars reject the German origin of Yiddish. These linguists see Yiddish grammar as fundamentally Slavonic, with modern Yiddish developed by incorporating large numbers of German and Hebrew words into the context of a basically Slavic grammar and syntax.

There has not been enough historical evidence to decide between such theories. Now, with the newly developed genetic methods, it is possible to test these ideas, for example to see if there was a significant Slavic contribution to modern Ashkenazic Jewry. Early indications from this study seem to support the "Mediterranean – To Europe – To Eastern European" pattern.

copied and pasted from DNA Evidence for Common Jewish Origin which is quite interesting to read. About 80 to 90% of the words are decipherable for a German, the other words come from a completely different source.


08 Nov 01 - 10:14 PM (#588738)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: GUEST,chrisj

Thanks Wolfgang, I think I feel a trip to the library coming on and maybe a bit of surfing the web.

30 Sep 04 - 05:46 AM (#1284752)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele
From: GUEST,Abraham Diner

For those interested in this excellent yiddish song, I would
recommend listening ( or buying) the bilingual version by
Jay and the Americans, the pop group from the 1960's made up
of jewish boys. The song titled in english WHERE IS THE VILLAGE?
( VI IZ DUS GESELE) is included in the CD : JAY AND THE AMERICANS:
Livin' above your head/Try some of this.ref BGOCD570. IT is track
number 17. It begins with a poem like intro in english about the
loss of father, mother, sister, brothers and sweetheart ( spoken
or better said recited). Then begins solo by singer Howie Kane in
yiddish and takes up half the song, then the other half is sung in
English. The great arrangement is by Artie Butler, who has also
arranged songs for Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. It is an
excellent presentation of this sung. Howie Kane ( born Howard
Kertschenbaum) does a magnificent interpretation. The song lasts
3:16 min. Howie Kane sings in perfect yiddish. All I can say is
"enjoy, enjoy".
The version by the Barry Sisters is great, but this one by

30 Sep 04 - 06:28 AM (#1284770)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dus Gesele ( VI iz dus gesele)
From: GUEST,Abraham Diner

This song can be found under two spellings:


      VI IS dus gessele
It depends on the yiddish pronunciation according to gepgraphical
areas. For example ,,jews in poland speak different yiddish pronunciation than jews in Russia. The language is basically the

    JAY and the Americans sing the song as VI IZ DUS GESELE.
( WHERE IS THE VILLAGE? is the english title).
    All in all , a great yiddish song and a great interpretation
in perfect yiddish.

01 Oct 04 - 01:21 AM (#1285653)
Subject: ADD Version: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Joe Offer

I really want to hear that Jay and the Americans recording.
Here's the transliteration from Songs of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song, by Eleanor and Joseph Mlotek. I think the Mloteks usually do a good job. Transliteration of Yiddish isn't an exact science - and German Yiddish transliteration is quite different from what you'll find in the U.S.
-Joe Offer-

Vu Is Dos Gesele

Vu iz dos gesele, vu iz di shtib (shtub)?
Vu iz dos meydele, vemen kh'hob lib?
Ot iz dos gesele, ot iz di shtib,
Ot iz dos meydele, vemen kh'hob lib.

Vu iz dos taykhele, vu iz di mil?
Vu iz dos derfele, vu iz di shil?
Ot iz dos taykhele, ot iz di mil,
Ot iz dos derfele, ot iz di shil.

Arayn in di shtiber, mayn veytog iz groys,
Alts iz geblibn a kholem nor bloyz,
Nishto mer dos gesele, nishto mer di shtib,
Nishto mer dos meydele vemen kh'hob lib.

Notes: Folksong: the text of one stanza was published in 1912 by Y. L. Cahan. The Ukrainian equivalent, beginning with "Gdye eto ulitsa" was published by Z. Skuditski in 1936. Dov Noy and Meir Noy bring the first stanza in Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian. It also appears in another folksong "Du zolst nit geyn mit keyn andere meydelekh" (You Shouldn't Go With Any Other Girls). The second stanza of the present text was transcribed by the compilers from a recording of Jan Peerce. A related theme is in the song "Fargangene yorn" by Leyb Ayzn in Leye Bloch-Lederer's collection Di shenste geklibene yidishe lider:
    "Ikh ze nokh dem shtetl, Ikh ze nokh di shil
    Ikh ze nokh dem taykhl vi oykh di vaser-mil
    Ikh ze nokh mayn libste fun vayt ergets dort
    Zi kumt mir in kholem un redt nit keyn vort"

    I still see the town,
    I still see the synagogue,
    I still see the brook and the mill.
    I still see my beloved in the distance.
    She silently comes to me in my dream.
Actress Mina Bern sang the song in the musical Those Were the Days.

Note that I added a couple of MIDIs to this thread.
-Joe Offer-

02 Oct 04 - 06:58 AM (#1286757)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Abraham diner

Thank you for your note, Joe Offer. That transliteration is not very accurate but still can be useful. The line should be "meidele, veymen ich hob lieb". "Veymen" means "who". "Meidele, veymen ich hob lieb" means "the girl that I love".

In our local Jewish community newspaper (Caracas, Venezuela) I recently read an article that Madonna, who has converted to Judaism and is studying Kabalah, will record an album of Yiddish songs. Can't wait to see what Yiddish songs she will choose. I hope that one day Barbra Streisand will decide to record Yiddish songs, since she speaks perfect Yiddish, coming from Brooklyn.

I wonder whatever became of Howie Kane (born Howard Kirschenbaum) who sang "Where Is the Village?" (Vi IZ DUS GESELE?) in such perfect Yiddish in the Jay and the Americans recording. I know that Jay Black of Jay and the Americans still gives shows at Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, New York, and that he includes "Where Is the Village?" (Vi Iz dus gesele) in his show as a song in memory of the holocaust. How his version compares to Howie Kane singing on the original recording, I don't know. But I read in the Internet that it was Jay Black who provided the English lyrics found in "Where Is the Village?" Keep in touch.

02 Oct 04 - 07:26 PM (#1287076)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Joe Offer

Thanks for pointing that out, Abraham. I think I posted that version from the Mlotek book too late at night. I used my scanner to copy the text, and I did a horrible job of proofreading. I think I corrected all of my mistakes in that post, and it should be right now. The proper word is "vemen" (Mr. Scanner copied it as "yemen," and also got the word "mil" incorrect). I think they you'd agree that "meydele" "meidele" are both correct transliterations of the same word, and that there are various spellings of "taykhele" [Teichlein (little pond) in German] .

I will make sure that Mr. Scanner receives appropriate punishment and re-education. He usually does a very good job for me, but perhaps he doesn't have enough experience with Yiddish.....

-Joe Offer-

03 Oct 04 - 07:17 PM (#1287706)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Bill Hahn//\\

Madonna singing Yiddish. That should be something---how long will that last---as long as Dylan's Christianity, Sammy Davis' Judaism? Liz Taylor's? Yusaf Islam formerly Cat Stevens (love the way they write that) has some sort of record of longevity in these things---perhaps he will break the record---he has to beat Muhammad Ali formerly known as Cassius Clay. No small feat.

I wonder---does the word "hype" come to anyone's mind here??

Bill Hahn

05 Oct 04 - 09:47 AM (#1289152)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Abraham Diner

The news went around the world. MADONNA SANG 2 YIDDISH SONGS for her kabbalah professor Phillip Berg. Yet, In all the articles I read on the Internet, and there are many, no one was able to indicate the titles of the songs she sang. If someone knows, please let us know.

You don't have to be Jewish to sing Yiddish songs. In the 1960's and in one of her first albums Joan Baez sings a beautiful English version of Dona, Dona. The Andrews sisters became an international sensation when they sang BEI MIR BISTU SCHOEN in the 1940's. This music was later classified as YIDDISH SWING. And included songs by Benny Goodman. Dinah Shore (yes, she's Jewish) had a hit with an English version of YES, MY DARLING DAUGHTER in the 1940's.

Celia Cruz (the Latin salsa queen) recorded a salsa version of Hava Nagillah, and there are rumors that she recorded a version of My Yiddishe Mame in Havana, Cuba in the 1940's-1950's, but I can not confirm it.

And all the male vocalists of the 1960's recorded selections from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF: for example, Robert Goulet, John Gary, Jerry Vale, Tony Bennett...etc. Sinatra? I don't recall any Jewish song recorded by him, although he had many Jewish friends.

06 Oct 04 - 02:57 AM (#1289942)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Wilfried Schaum

Joe - your first request was started before I joined the MudCat. Might be good so, because your second version makes better sense with the 2nd stanza.

Vu iz dos gesele, vu iz di shtib (shtub)?
Where is the small lane, where is the chamber?
Vu iz dos meydele, vemen kh'hob lib?
Where is the girl I love?
Ot iz dos gesele, ot iz di shtib,
Ot iz dos meydele, vemen kh'hob lib.
There is ...

Vu iz dos taykhele, vu iz di mil?
Where is the small pond, where is the mill?
Vu iz dos derfele, vu iz di shil?
Where is the small village, where is the school?
Ot iz dos taykhele, ot iz di mil,
Ot iz dos derfele, ot iz di shil.
There is ...

Arayn in di shtiber, mayn veytog iz groys,
In the chambers my pain is great
Alts iz geblibn a kholem nor bloyz,
All that has remained only a dream now
Nishto mer dos gesele, nishto mer di shtib,
Nishto mer dos meydele vemen kh'hob lib.
No more the small lane ... (as in 1st stanza)

The small lane: In former times the Jews were restricted to a limited area in villages and towns, mostly a narrow lane. In my hometown we still have a Jews' lane which is a little bit broader and longer than usual. In cities like Frankfurt and similar metropoles of commerce one could find a Jewish quarter in former times.
Shtib: could be a small house, consisting of only one room.
The school is the synagogue in Yiddish.

The use of the Slavic words ot (there) and nishto (nothing) proves that the song originated in Eastern Europe.

06 Oct 04 - 03:13 AM (#1289949)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Joe Offer

Wilfried, I'm wondering about shtib (shtub). Could it mean
Stube in German, like in Bierstube - a small gathering place??

I suppose the "little street" would be called Judengasse in German and Austrian towns.

-Joe Offer-

06 Oct 04 - 03:22 AM (#1289950)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Wilfried Schaum

Correct - Stube is any room in a house. Yiddish pronounciation is shtib, cancel shtub - it doesn't rhyme.
Judengasse is the word. I forgot that you have worked in Germany for a time, otherwise I would have used it.


06 Oct 04 - 09:56 AM (#1290200)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Abraham Diner

SHTIB.- means house. SHTIBL- a word from similar root
means a small house where the yeshiva boys study torah.
Similar to the one you see in the movie YENTL, where
the yeshiva boys sit in a long rectangular table and

07 Oct 04 - 02:54 AM (#1290982)
Subject: RE: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Wilfried Schaum

Thanks, Abraham. Shtibl is of the same root as shtib, it's the diminutive. In German to form a diminutive you add the syllable -lein, in Yiddish shortened to -l.

16 Dec 04 - 05:22 AM (#1358411)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Abraham Diner

Neil Sedakas new yiddish album. " Brighton Beach Memories""
dID anyone have a chance to listen to it? write us your opinion.
What I noticed is that many of the songs are the classical yiddish
songs that were recorded in the 60's by singer Connie Francis.
Yes, Neil Sedaka is jewish. What a blessing to have a Yiddish
album from him.

30 Mar 05 - 08:33 AM (#1446805)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Abraham Diner

A good web site for hebrew, yiddish, french, english, spanish, ladino
songs by ESTHER OFARIM is

You can also make requests for songs, which the webmaster then chooses
3 songs for the public to decide which has the highest percentage.
You can request the following yiddish songs:
Oyfn pripithok, sung in yiddish
Rakefet, hebrew version of Margaritkelech
Daylight is dawning, english version of margaritkelech

these mp3 songs you can download to your computer and burn them
on an audio cd or data cd.

13 May 05 - 04:26 AM (#1483901)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,abraham diner

Should Barbra Streisand record a yiddish album?
What's your opinion.
Should the album be bilingual, with the songs sung in english
and yiddish, similar to what she did in her french album JE M'APPELLE
What would be a good title for this album: " Jewish...Barbra Streisand". "Farbrent", "Call me bubale" " Yiddish songs" " The Yiddish album", " Best of yiddish songs",
What songs should she include?: " Mein yiddishe Mame", "Yankele",
"Bei mir bistu schon ( Barbra as a trio), " Yossel, Yossel".
" Vi iz dus gesele ( where is the village)", "Oyfen pripitchok",
" Margaritkelach", " Lomir sich iberbeiten", "Sunrise, sunset",
"yidl mitn Fidl" (could be a remastered duo with Molly Picon).
"Tumbalaika", " Vus geven is geven und nitu" "Eili, Eili" "chiribim, chiribom", "bublitchki",
Who should do the english lyrics, Marilyn and Alan , Stephen Sondheim,
Tim Rice, Paul Simon
Can'y wait for Barbra Streisand to record " The Yiddish Album"

13 May 05 - 04:46 AM (#1483917)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Mark Cohen

Wilfried, don't be so quick to "cancel" the word "shtub". The Yiddish/Hebrew vowel in question (a vav with a dagesh, or dot, to the left of it) is pronounced "ee" in some locales and "oo" in others. My grandfather and aunt used to have (playful) fights at the Passover seder: "It's Dayenu!" "No, it's Dayeni!" Not to mention the classic noodle pudding, which was either "kigel" or "kugel" depending on which side of the table you were sitting on. My high school friend Steve Cohen used to laugh whenever Mike Cohen (we all sat next to one another in homeroom, of course) said "Zu gezunt" when someone sneezed; Steve would say "Tzi gezint" (to your health). I was told that the two accents were "Galitzianer" and "Litvak." From the expression on my grandfather's face when he said "Litvak" I knew which one he was. And he loved kigel.


13 May 05 - 05:14 AM (#1483934)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Joe Offer

Abraham, you might be able to talk me into the Neil Sedaka album, but I don't think I'd go for a Yiddish album from Streisand, even if her voice is "just like butter."
On second thought, maybe I'll stick with Chava Alberstein's Yiddish songs. Now, there's a Yiddish album.
-Joe Offer-

13 May 05 - 09:12 AM (#1484094)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Wilfried Schaum

Mark - I should cancel shtub here only because of the rhyme.
That both sounds u/i are used I know well, I could hear both in my home town.
The i is an absolute must in the diminutive stibl, from germ. Stьbel, where the ь is always changed to i.

21 Aug 05 - 03:59 PM (#1546674)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Abraham Diner,

09 Sep 05 - 02:56 AM (#1559541)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,ponzu

Russian version:

Крутится-вертится шар голубой,
Крутится-вертится над головой,
Крутится-вертится, хочет упасть,
Кавалер барышню хочет украсть.

Где эта улица, где этот дом?
Где эта барышня, что я влюблен?
Вот эта улица, вот этот дом.
Вот эта барышня, что я влюблен.


Whirling and spinning is a blue ball
Whirling and spinning over head
Whirling and spinning, trying to fall
A young man is trying to steal a girl.

Where is that street, where is that house?
Where is that girl who I love?
Here is that street, here is that house,
Here is that girl who I love.

09 Sep 05 - 09:07 PM (#1560199)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Joe Offer

Thanks, Ponzu - a friend of mine has been looking for that Russian version for a long time - and I'm going to sing with her tonight.
-Joe Offer-

07 Oct 05 - 09:46 AM (#1577954)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,

when I was a little boy of about 12 years, I heard this song in a little Village in Silesia but the text was if I remember it well:

Oynmal noch wirsde weinen um mich
Oynmal noch wird is dir layd tun um mich
Oynmal da wirsde das alles varstehn,
Dach dann is es layder schon zu spaet.

Das someone know this version of Vi iz dus gesele.
It would be nice of you to mail it to me.
Dr.Andreas Kowarsch

19 Feb 08 - 05:31 PM (#2266772)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Sheila

More than fifty years ago, my grandmother from Poland sang this melody with different words. Phonetically, as I recall (with apologies):

Krasnoy oy oblitcha, Belle eets vet,
Teemeen a lyubitcha, Netsee bya net,
Teemeen a lyubitcha, Nit toy dom,
Teemeen a zhervushka, shtoy oovalooba lum.

That's just the way I remember it. It may make no sense at all, but she said something about white and pink flower petals and a young man who wants the love of a girl.

But the music is the same as that posted by Joe Offer on 11 Feb. 99. Can anyone elucidate?

Many thanks.

19 Feb 08 - 07:22 PM (#2266900)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,volgadon

Seems like Polish, which I can barely understand. Dunno if they have an 'y' sound, but I would separate the words like this:

Krasnoye oblitcha, beleyee tsvet,
tee mena lyubitch a net seebya net,
tee meena lyubitch, a nit toy dom,
tee meena zhervushka, shto uvlyublyon.

My stab at a translation would be:
pretty cloud, white colour,
you love me, but not yourself (unless it's 'ne teebya net' in which case it would be 'but I don't', or 'you are gone'),
you love me, but not your house (or maybe: your house is gone,)
you zhervushka (whatever that is) me, because I've fallen in love.

Polish or Byelorussian speakers please help!!!

19 Feb 08 - 07:25 PM (#2266902)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Volgadon

Come to think of it, zhuravushka is a diminutive form of crane, so maybe he is calling her that.

20 Feb 08 - 07:49 AM (#2267256)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Volgadon

I found some interesting stuff out here.
It's mentioned as a Russian song from the turn of the century, not a word about Jewish origins, interstingly enough, and compares it to a Polish folk song, collected in Silesia, with similar words and tune. The origin is unknown for both. The Polish (a girl walking along the street) resembles vu iz dos gesele a lot more than the Russian which is about elopement).

20 Feb 08 - 08:28 AM (#2267280)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Sheila

Dear Volgadon,

What incredibly similar melodies. Thank you for your erudition and perseverance. Of course, it will always be my Grammy's voice singing whatever I heard it to be.


20 Aug 10 - 02:42 AM (#2969151)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Ah Yiddisheh Mameh

This is another rendition of the song, it's heartfelt but the lyrics are a combination of different versions:

20 Aug 10 - 11:40 AM (#2969428)
Subject: History of Yiddish for Dummies
From: GUEST,F.

History of Yiddish in a nutshell, as drawn from books and internet sources (not my own research):

- Roman Empire, first centuries AD: Jews from Palestine settled in many parts of the empire, also in southern Germany via Italy and present-day France. The principal languages were "Vulgar Latin" and "Germanic".

- AD 843 to 1348: "High German" in various dialects was spoken by Christians and Jews alike. Many religious terms were of course retained from Latin/Greek resp. Hebrew/Aramaic (tiny traces of Latin as well). All male Jews were supposed to learn Hebrew and Aramaic, the pronunciation was adapted to German usage. Some Jewish writers used the Hebrew letters at hand to write pure German. Slavs were generally not within hearing!

- 1348ff: Many German-speaking Jews fled from socio-religious prosecution to Poland and Lithuania, including present-day Belorus, Ukraine etc.

- 1348 to ca. 1800: There the communities held contact among each other and with the Slav population. The contact with German language was largely interrupted, so Yiddish language evolved, borrowing from those Semitic and Slav languages. The influence of Caucasus Judaism (with their languages Persian and Turkish, the latter by conversions!) was negligable, in terms of genes and language. - German changed considerably as well, together with the sociolects spoken by Jews in Germany (often, but falsely, named "West Yiddish").

- ca. 1800 to 1945: The contact between Yiddish and German speakers increased considerably. Creole versions became common and also influenced the "pure" Yiddish dialects.

- since 1945: Purists try to reestablish True Yiddish, while Hebrew in Israel has to be pronounced the Spanish way. For the first time Yiddish became something like a "religious language": of antizionist Jews centered in New York.

Thus Yiddish can be regarded as an ethnic term (not identical to the wider notion Ashkenazic), although before, say, 1900, Jewish religion was more or less a precondition: apostates would drop the language as quickly as possible. On the other hand, I know persons who think of themselves as "Yids" without speaking Yiddish, "because it was prohibited under Stalin". The popular saying "A yid zol sikh blaybn a yid!" can be translated "A Jew of Yiddish ethnicity should stick to its religious and other customs, such as having no political or military ambitions."

Thus Yiddish folklore is to be treated like any other *ethnic* folklore: for some it is a part of their identity, others are free to borrow or quote it, but the difference must be noted.

F. (neither a Jew nor a historian, just wanting to spread some basic information for madcutters like the one who complained about Wolf Krakowski being unintelligable ...)

21 Aug 10 - 09:20 AM (#2969964)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: leeneia2

Volgandon, thanks for the links to music. I printed the music for 'Szіa dzieweczka' and have added it to my piano book. My husband read the title and said, "I went to school with her!"

AY Mameh, thanks for the history of Yiddish.

I made a MIDI of 'Vu is Dos Gesele,' but I'm beginning to feel that I don't need another piece with its particular tonality.

14 Mar 11 - 07:25 PM (#3113796)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: Joe Offer

There's mention made above of a recording by Jay Black of Jay and the Americans. My friend Mrs. Lev sent me a link to a YouTube recording of the song today - Art work by Marc Chagall.


15 Mar 11 - 06:37 PM (#3114511)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,leeneia

Thanks for the link, Joe. It explains a lot.

05 Jun 11 - 08:51 PM (#3165709)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele

I hope everyone is clear now about "shtub" vs. "shtib". In the Northeastern dialect ("Litvisher" that covers the area of the former Lithuanian Duchy including the Baltic States, Belarus, Northern Ukraine), the "oo" sound is as in "food". In Central and Southeastern Yiddish (Central includes Poland and Galicia; Southeastern is mostly Ukraine, which would be "Poylishe, Galistyaner, Voliner etc."), the written "oo" sound in most words is pronounced "ee". Thus, because the song came from Russia, it was "shtib" rather than "shtub" which is obvious from the rhyme with "lib"). A "shtub" can be a room, but most often refers to a one-room cottage, which is all poor people could afford. A "shtibl" would be a small one-room cottage (not a "shtubl" in any dialect). I don't know where the custom arose, but Chassidim in particular often set up small shuls in one-room houses which became known as "shtiblekh". But I suppose a "shtibl" could have two rooms or could be someone's living room - the idea is that it is small - not a large synagogue. In New York, you can easily find a storefront "shtibl". I should point out that Mandy Patinkin and Barbra Streisand did not study in a small "shtibl" in "Yentl". If you remember the movie at all, they studied in a large yeshive ("religious high school" for talented Talmudic students).

21 Mar 12 - 09:57 PM (#3326748)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Merle

My father was born in 1909. His family was from Byelrus. When I was a little girl, he sang "Vu is dos gesele" in Yiddish and Russian. My transliterations: "Vu is dos gesele, vu is der shtib, vu is dos meydele vemen ich hob lieb, nit taw dos gesele, nit taw der shtib, nit taw dos meydele vemen ich hob lieb."
"Gdyet a ulitzya, gdyet a dom, gdyet a bareshna shtoya lyubov, ot a ulitzya ot a dom, ot a bareshna shtoya lyubov."
His translation as I remember it: "Where is the street, where is the house, where is the little girl I used to love? Gone is the street, gone is the house, gone is the little girl I used to love." He said the song was about a soldier returning home to his village after the war, and the village was completely destroyed. He also said the song was used in a movie made in Europe perhaps sometime in the 1930's.
Two Russian-speakers I spoke to and asked about the song said they didn't really recognize the words I was saying were lyrics from a Russian song. They said it didn't sound like Russian. My "poetic", singable English translation would be, "Where is the house, where is the street, where is the little girl I'd kiss when we'd meet, Gone is the house, gone is the street, gone is the little girl I'd kiss when we'd meet. Several years ago my brother worked as an educational consultant is Kyrgyzstan, and said the first day he was there he came across a street musician singing this song. Jay Black's version is beautiful!

18 Jul 21 - 10:46 PM (#4113762)
Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Add: Vu Iz Dos Gesele
From: GUEST,Pat S

Russian, Polish, Silesian, Kyrgyz -- oy! Isn't it obvious? The song is "Szla Dzieweczka do Laseczka" (should be a slash through the first l). The melodies have nothing in common, but the chorus of the Polish song is virtually identical to the verse of the Yiddish song. Easily found on Youtube. The Polish song has no nostalgia or even much romance. The rhythm of its chorus is much the same as "Vi Iz Dus Gesele." "Szla Dzieveczka" is a favorite at Polish weddings, picnics and parties -- often bellowed by drunk people holding hands and swaying. (The Polish song can also be traced to a Hindi song in a Bollywood movie and a song written for a Japanese public television (NHK) children's program... but I digress.)