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DER YIDDISH-VINKL November 28, 2003

In the latter half of the 20th century, Ruth Rubin was one of the major figures in promoting Yiddish folk traditions — in music. She was a performer, a recording artist and a translator of Yiddish songs into English. Much of her written work is preserved in “Jewish Folk Songs” (1950).

One of the songs in the collection is “Bulbes” (“Potatoes”). It is an effort to provoke a smile about the sad circumstance of Jews in the Old World who, in poverty, repeatedly had to fall back on potatoes as the boring food to keep body and soul together. Both the transliteration and the translation into English are by Rubin. If you, dear reader, find the repetition boring, just imagine how boring it must have been to eat those bulbes day in and day out.


Zuntik — bulbes

Montik — bulbes

Dinstik un mitvokh — bulbes

Ober shabes in a novine a bulbe kigele!

Un zuntik vayter, bulbes.

Broyt mit bulbes,

Fleysh mit bulbes,

Varimes un vetshere — bulbes

Ober un vider — bulbes.

Ober eynmol in a novine a bulbe kigele!

Un zuntig vayter bulbes!

Ober — bulbes

Vider — bulbes,

Ober un vider — bulbes,

Vider un ober — bulbes

Ober shabes nokhn tsholnt a bulbe kigele

Un zuntik vayter, bulbes.


Potatoes on Sunday,

Potatoes on Monday,

Tuesday and Wednesday — potatoes!

Thursday and Friday— potatoes!

But the treat on the Sabbath is a pudding of potatoes!

And, on Sunday, once again, it is potatoes!

It’s bread with potatoes

And meat with potatoes

Breakfast and dinner — potatoes.

Morning and evening — potatoes.

But the special dish is always the pudding of potatoes!

And on Sunday, once again, it is potatoes!

Now — it’s potatoes

And later potatoes.

Tuesday and tomorrow — potatoes!

Week after week, it is potatoes.

But the best on the Sabbath is the pudding of potatoes!

And on Sunday once again we get potatoes!

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