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DER YIDDISH-VINKL January 17, 2003

The old rhyme on Jewish sobriety and gentile inebriety says: Shiker iz a goy, shiker iz er, trinkn miz er, vayl er iz a goy. Nikhter iz a yid. Nikhter iz er, davnen miz er, vayl er iz a yid.

Despite this characterization of the different drinking habits of Jews and non-Jews, the number of drinking songs popular in Jewish folk culture is hardly the product of a people seeking admission to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, backbone of the Prohibition Party.

One example of a popular Yiddish song that deals with drinking is “Tayere Malke” (“Dear Malke”). The original words and music are by Mark Warshavsky (1840-1907), author and composer of many popular Yiddish songs, including “Oyfn Pripetshik.”

The transliteration from the Yiddish is taken from Joseph and Eleanor Mlotek’s compendium, “Pearls of Yiddish Song.” The English version is by Gus Tyler.

Tayere Malke

Tayere Malke —

Gezunt zolstu zayn!

Gis on dem bekher

Dem bekher mit vayn

Fun dem dozikn bekher

Er glantst azoy sheyn,

Hot getrunken mayn zede

Mayne zeyde aleyn

Geven shlekhte tsaytn,

Vi es makht zikh amol

Nor dem bekher hob ikh gehaltn —

Ayzn un shtol.

Es hot mesameyekh geven ale kinder

Bekant iz dos dir,

Funem tatn iz der bekher

Gekumen tsu mir.

Tayere Malke

Gezunt zolstu zayn!

Far vemen zol ikh trinkn

Dem dozikn vayn?

Lekhayim vil ikh trinken

Far dem pintele yid,

Vos mutshet zikh tomid

Un vert keyn mol nit mid!

Lekhayim vil ikh trinken

Un take on an ek,

Far di vos zaynen geforn

Oyf eybik avek!

* * *

Dear Malke

My dearest darling Malke

And may good health be thine

Please, come fill up the beaker

My beaker full of wine.

From this, the selfsame beaker

That shines upon the shelf

My grandpa, he, no shiker,

Reserved it for himself.

There were the troubled moments,

They do come now and then

But I did grip my goblet

As do all mighty men.

It did amuse the children

As you must surely see

To see my daddy’s beaker

When he passed it to me.

And so, my dearest Malke

May health be always thine

Now whom shall I be toasting

With this good glass of wine?

To good life I am drinking

To what does make a Jew

Who endlessly does struggle

But finds his strength anew.

To life, good life, I’m drinking

And I’ll go on and on

For those who have departed.

For those forever gone.

Engage

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