Yiddish Theatre Forum [YTF]
Joel Berkowitz, Editor 
Vol. 03.009
22 December 2004

1) Zachary Baker, Appendix to "The Streets of Buenos Aires: Jevel Katz and Yiddish Popular Culture in the Argentine Metropolis" 

Synopses of selected song texts

(1) "Mucho ojo"

(a) Yiddish

In shtot vu ikh bin geborn
A rebn hob ikh gehat,
Hot er mir far mayn forn
Gelernt ot dem pshat:

- Forst in land in vaytn
Kukn in ale zaytn
In hobn gut an oyg.

Hob okho! hob mutsho okho! (mucho ojo)
Hob okho, zay nit fartrakht!
Ver es hot okho - hot mazl-brokho,
In ver es hot nit - i' nit far mir gedakht!

In ikh veys zikh vi tsu firn,
Ikh drey zikh gut in rod,
Mir kon men nisht makanirn, (< macana)
Kh'bin [...]

Mit a heyse mate           (mate)
Brit men mikh mer nit op,
Ikh zog "anda banyate!     (anda ba?ate)
Fardrey mir nisht kayn kop!"

Kh'hob okho, kh'hob mutsho okho,
Kh'hob okho, kh'bin nit fartrakht,
Ver es hot okho - hot mazl-brokho,
In ver es hot nit - i' nit far mir gedakht!

Kh'hob zikh nisht lib tsu shemen
Far mayne gite fraynd,
Velkhe s'hobn lib tsu nemen,
In geybn hot men faynt.

Ikh gey of a remate,    (remate)
Bay yederer ikh shtayg,
In makh zikh tamevate
[...] ikh koyf a fayg.

Kh'hob okho, kh'hob mutsho okho,
Kh'hob okho, kh'bin nisht fartrakht,
Ver es hot okho - hot mazl-brokho,
In ver es hot nisht - i' nisht far mir gedakht!

Mit kayn puste mayses
Fardreyt men mir nisht kayn moyakh,
Ikh zey alts vos me darf nor,
In vos me darf nisht oykh.

Ikh bin mir moy galante    (muy galante)
Tsu a meydl ven zi redt,
In ikh nem mit a purgante
Ven ikh es of a banket.

Kh'hob okho, kh'hob mutsho okho,
Kh'hob okho, kh'bin nit fartrakht,
Ver es hot okho - hot mazl-brokho,
In ver es hot nisht - i' nit far mir gedakht!

In shpet ba nakht in sine   (cine)
A meydl ven ikh nem,
Veys ikh in argentine
Vi ir opfirn aheym:

Ikh loz ir geyn a freyer
Un ikh gey bay der vant,
Tomer vart der tate in toyer
Mit a bezem in der hant.

Kh'hob okho, kh'hob mutsho okho,
Kh'hob okho, kh'bin nit fartrakht,
Ver es hot okho - hot mazl-brokho,
In ver es hot nit - i' nisht far mir gedakht!

Der malakh-hadoyme iz umtsufridn
Arofgekumen tsu got,
Mit a tayne tsu di yidn,
Vos tsores er fun zey hot:

Me zindikt vi di goyim
Mit aveyres fil,
Es kumt do yom-noroim
Shoklt men zikh in shil!

- Kh'hob okho, zogt got im, okho!
Zey betn tsheklekh bay mir mit glik,
Ver s'hot kayn kvente kayn koriente -   (cuenta corriente)
O-yenems tsetele vet kumen mir tsurik!

Oy, oy, oy, okho, kh'hob mutsho okho,
Zey betn brokhes, dem [...] oykh,

O-o-oy, okho, okho, mutsho okho,
Oy okho, mayn giter fraynd,
Ver s'hot nor okho - hot mazl-brokho,
In ver es hot nit - i' nit far mir gedakht!

(b) English

A rabbi back in my home town gave me the following advice:  You're moving
to a faraway country - take care, look around, and keep your eyes open!
Look here:  I know how to maneuver; you can't lead me astray...  I don't
burn myself with a hot mate anymore; I say "_and? ba?ate_," don't bother

(Refrain:  Look out!  If you do, you'll be blessed with good fortune; if
not, I don't want to imagine what will happen.)

I'm not shy around my freeloading friends.  I go to an auction, outbid
everyone, and then act ignorant and am told to go to hell.  Don't bother me
with your pointless stories; I see everything I need to see and everything
I don't need to see, too.

I know how to behave around a girl when she speaks, and I bring along a
_purgante_ when I eat at a banquet.  Late at night I take a girl to the
movies and I know how to get her home - I let her go ahead of me while I
walk alongside the wall, in case her father is waiting with a broom in his

The angel at the gates is dissatisfied with the troublesome Jews who are
entering heaven; they sin like the goyim and then sway in the synagogue
during the high holy days, as if there is no tomorrow.

(2) "Mozesvil"

The messiah has come to a small corner of Argentina, where only Jews can be
found:  the pharmacist, bathhouse keeper, policeman, and judge (_juez_).

(Refrain:  Mozesvil, my beautiful town, you're a veritable Jewish state,
the pride of Argentina!)

Here's the central plaza, where young people stroll, greet one another with
"Buenas noches," and meet their future spouses.

A radio plays tangos to passers-by, who spread the latest gossip: Who's
become engaged, who will be having a _bris_, and who burned a "knish" on

A guy (_pundik_) stands on a street corner in his saggy knee-pants and
slippers, whistling a Spanish tune through his moustache - you can be sure,
however, that he too is a Jew.

(3) "Ikh zukh a tsimer"

I'm satisfied with Argentina, it's a _goldene medine_, but there's one
thing I'm having trouble with:  it's hard to find an apartment.  You need
_garant?as_ from _buena gentes_, and from _sociedades_ and _presidentes_ -
yet even after you've received them you still need to find a room.

(Refrain:  G'vald, yidn, _buena gente_, I'm looking for a room, a
_departamente_, if you know of one answer me _urgente_, I've got to move

I ask everyone for recommendations and I clip addresses from newspapers...
I've already been to this one... and as for that one I can't satisfy their

Starting at dawn I rent vans, pack my pillows and mattresses, and move my
furniture to the room that I've found (I've put everything on wheels, to
save on moving costs).

My furniture sits outside the place where I've found a room, but each
apartment has its own drawbacks:  this one has no conveniences, that one
has a shrew of a concierge, the next one is near a radio that's
distracting, and the noise from the marketplace is too loud outside of the
other one.

Here's a place with "conveniences":  it's infested with bugs, and besides I
can't live there together with my wife because no children are allowed.
The floor's wet, there's no washbasin or shower, and my wife looks
longingly at the bachelor next door.

... I found a great place and lived there for a year but got evicted
because I didn't pay my rent.

(4) "Ovinu malkeinu"

Business is bad, there are no banquets anywhere, so I put on my clothes and
go to "Le?n," where it's crowded and stuffy, to play a game of four-handed
dominoes.  My partner Sim?n is a big oaf [_chamb?n_]; I wish we'd never

Your move - what's taking you so long?  What's more important - the "two"
or the "three"?  Keep your pieces to yourself; anyone can see them... when
you've finished "double-six" will get eliminated and I'll make a banquet in
your honor.

I have a pretty daughter and she has a decent boyfriend who is waiting for
a dowry and thinks I'll make him happy.  But I don't have a penny to my
name, just a bag full of new nails, so after the wedding I'll invite him to
join me as my partner in dominoes.

Meanwhile, my wife Haya Sheyna sits at home and waits for me.  She needs a
coat and money for groceries, and thinks I'm a millionaire.  She sees how
much noise I make about my big business deals, so just try telling her that
it's hard times and I'm playing dominoes, _nada m?s_!

Your move; what are you thinking about, you oaf?!

End of Yiddish Theatre Forum 03.009

Yiddish Theatre Forum

Joel Berkowitz, Editor	

Leonard Prager, Senior Adviser		

	   Editorial Board

Zachary Baker		Barbara Henry 
Miroslawa Bulat		David Mazower
Avrom Greenbaum		Nina Warnke
	      Seth Wolitz

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