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DER YIDDISH-VINKL December 31, 2004

Hanukkah is ever old and ever new — as the following poem by Alef Katz testifies when he reminds us of events 2,000 years ago and their meaning for Jews today.

It is in the light of this everlasting tradition that Der Vinkl now runs the third in a series of poems that appeared in the Forverts devoted to the theme of the Maccabees and their successful resistance to the attempt of the arrogant Antiochus Epiphanes (God’s spirit on earth) to impose his religion on the Jews. Here is a transliteration of the Jewish version into the Roman alphabet by Goldie Adler, followed by an English version by Gus Tyler.

Hekher Shoyn 2,000 Yor

Fun di likht, vos brenen freylekh

Zing ikh itster un dertseyl aykh

Mit a shtolts un varem kol

A geshikhte fun amol.

Di geshikhte, zi banayt zikh

Un ir shtoltser ruf tseshrayt zikh

Ruft tsu undz in yedn dor

Hekher shoyn tsvey toyznt yor.

Az mir zoln zikh nit bukn

Nor mit an oysgeglaykhtn rukn

Vi amol, azoy oykh haynt

Shteln zikh antkegn faynt.

Shtoltse yidn, shtoltse mentshn,

Lomir vayter tsindn, bentshn

Un tseflakern dem flam

Fun di likht fun undzer shtam.

Zol der flam fun zeydes brenen

Un di eyniklekh derkenen

Vi geshen in yed dor

Hekher shoyn tsvey toyznt yor.

* * *|

More Than 2,000 Years

By these candles burning brightly

I do bring a tale most sprightly

With a proud and hearty voice

A song to make us all rejoice.

The story always reappears

The song, it never disappears

It rolls right on from age to age

Two thousand years have been its stage.

It says thou shalt not bend thy head

You’d rather stand erect — or dead

As once you did so once again

Hold head up high as you did then.

Yes, you’re Jews who stand up proud

You’re not just bodies in a crowd

So, light the candles, let them flare

Display our courage everywhere.

Now let the light of grandpas shine

And to their families give a sign

As we have done in years gone by

We’ll live a life with head held high.


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