The Arty Semite

New Train Coming

By Ezra Glinter

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On the Yiddish Song of the Week blog, Forverts associate editor Itzik Gottesman writes about “An Ayznban a Naye,” or “A New Railroad Train,” based on a song by the renowned poet and songwriter Eliakum Zunser. Gottesman writes:

Eliakum Zunser

“An ayznban” was sung by David Shear of New York City and recorded by me in his apartment in 1989. Shear was born in Luboml (Libivne in Yiddish), Poland. He studied in Ostrovitz, near Keltz in a Navaradok Yeshiva in the 1930s. This was a mussar yeshiva and if you are not familiar with that term, I recommend you read Chaim Grade’s novel “The Yeshiva” as well as other works by him. This kind of yeshiva emphasized ethics in an extreme way. That the yeshiva students there would sing “An ayznban,” which is an adaptation of Elyokum Zunser’s (1836-1913) song “Lid fun ayznban” (not to be confused with his song/poem “Der ayznban”) is not that surprising, since Zunser’s poetry often mixed parable and Jewish ethics.

Read the whole post and listen to the song here.


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