Zog Nit Keynmol – Yiddish Song

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican
Age: 71
Occupation: Teacher
Residence: Mexico
Date of Performance/Collection: 9/25/2016
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English, Yiddish

Original Yiddishזאָג ניט קיין מאָל, אַז דו גייסט דעם לעצטן וועג,
כאָטש הימלען בלײַענע פֿאַרשטעלן בלויע טעג.
קומען וועט נאָך אונדזער אויסגעבענקטע שעה –
ס׳וועט אַ פּויק טאָן אונדזער טראָט: מיר זײַנען דאָ!פֿון גרינעם פּאַלמענלאַנד ביז ווײַסן לאַנד פֿון שניי,
מיר קומען אָן מיט אונדזער פּײַן, מיט אונדזער וויי,
און וווּ געפֿאַלן ס׳איז אַ שפּריץ פֿון אונדזער בלוט,
שפּראָצן וועט דאָרט אונדזער גבֿורה, אונדזער מוט!ס׳וועט די מאָרגנזון באַגילדן אונדז דעם הײַנט,
און דער נעכטן וועט פֿאַרשווינדן מיט דעם פֿײַנט,
נאָר אויב פֿאַרזאַמען וועט די זון אין דער קאַיאָר –
ווי אַ פּאַראָל זאָל גיין דאָס ליד פֿון דור צו דור.

דאָס ליד געשריבן איז מיט בלוט, און ניט מיט בלײַ,
ס׳איז ניט קיין לידל פֿון אַ פֿויגל אויף דער פֿרײַ,
דאָס האָט אַ פֿאָלק צווישן פֿאַלנדיקע ווענט
דאָס ליד געזונגען מיט נאַגאַנעס אין די הענט.

טאָ זאָג ניט קיין מאָל, אַז דו גייסט דעם לעצטן וועג,
כאָטש הימלען בלײַענע פֿאַרשטעלן בלויע טעג.
קומען וועט נאָך אונדזער אויסגעבענקטע שעה –
ס׳וועט אַ פּויק טאָן אונדזער טראָט: מיר זײַנען דאָ

Zog nit keyn mol, az du geyst dem letstn veg,
Himlen blayene farshteln bloye teg.
Kumen vet nokh undzer oysgebenkte sho,
S’vet a poyk ton undzer trot: mir zaynen do!

Fun grinem palmenland biz vaysn land fun shney,
Mir kumen on mit undzer payn, mit undzer vey,
Un vu gefaln s’iz a shprits fun undzer blut,
Shprotsn vet dort undzer gvure, undzer mut!

S’vet di morgnzun bagildn undz dem haynt,
Un der nekhtn vet farshvindn mit dem faynt,
Nor oyb farzamen vet di zun in der kayor –
Vi a parol zol geyn dos lid fun dor tsu dor.

Dos lid geshribn iz mit blut, un nit mit blay,
S’iz nit keyn lidl fun a faygl oyf der fray,
Dos hot a folk tsvishn falndike vent
Dos lid gezungen mit naganes in di hent.

To zog nit keyn mol, az du geyst dem letstn veg,
Himlen blayene farshteln bloye teg.
Kumen vet nokh undzer oysgebenkte sho –
S’vet a poyk ton undzer trot: mir zaynen do!

 

English Translation

Never say this is the final road for you,
Though leaden skies may cover over days of blue.
As the hour that we longed for is so near,
Our step beats out the message: we are here!

From lands so green with palms to lands all white with snow.
We shall be coming with our anguish and our woe,
And where a spurt of our blood fell on the earth,
There our courage and our spirit have rebirth!

The early morning sun will brighten our day,
And yesterday with our foe will fade away,
But if the sun delays and in the east remains –
This song as motto generations must remain.

This song was written with our blood and not with lead,
It’s not a little tune that birds sing overhead,
This song a people sang amid collapsing walls,
With pistols in hand they heeded to the call.

Therefore never say the road now ends for you,
Though leaden skies may cover over days of blue.
As the hour that we longed for is so near,
Our step beats out the message: we are here!

Zog Nit Keynmol (translates to Never Say, also known as Hymn of the Partisans), is a traditional Yiddish/Jewish song that is considered to be one of the main anthems of the Jews that managed to survive the Holocaust. It was written during WWII by a Jewish prisoner of the Vilna Ghetto, after which it quickly became a symbol of resistance agaisnt the Nazi occupation. Sang to the tune of a traditional military march, the over time came to symbolize the memories of those lost during the war. It is often sung at annual Holocaust memorial ceremonies.

The informant, Reyna Babani, is a 71-year-old Mexican Jew who lives in Mexico City. Because she grew up in such a close-knit community, Reyna considers herself an expert on Jewish culture. She was taught the song as a young girl in a Yiddish elementary school in Mexico City. Beginning at the age of 13, all students were made to participate in a yearly Holocaust memorial ceremony. Because of this, at that age Reyna quickly became familiar with the song and the heartache that was associated it. Although the song was considered quite sad, she insists that it also had a hopeful tone, as the lyrics called for courage and strength during difficult times.

Songs like this are great indicators of what life was like for Jews after the war. Clearly, they were very distraught over what had occurred. But somehow, they managed to stay positive and move on through the inspiring songs sung by the youth. It appears that children like Reyna were instrumental in keeping Jewish communities alive and strong.