4th Annual Hungry for Yiddish

Dear Friends,

I now have a beautiful new website:


Please go there for updated information.



4th Annual

Hungry for Yiddish: A Mitzvah Project
Thursday, December 12, 8:00pm

Subterranean Arthouse, 2179 Bancroft Way, downtown Berkeley.
Featuring Heather Klein’s Inextinguishable Trio, Saul Goodman’s Klezmer Band, Bruce Bierman, and special guests: Safra!

$10-$20 suggested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds.

Proceeds donated to the Berkeley Food Pantry, which provides hunger relief in Berkeley and Albany.

Co-presented by KlezCalifornia and the San Francisco Jewish Music Festival

8:00 p.m. Safra between Jewish, Middle Eastern and Balkan.
8:30pm: Yiddish song with Heather Klein’s Inextinguishable Trio.
9:00pm on: Klezmer dance party, with music by Saul  Goodman’s Klezmer Band featuring

Mike Perlmutter (clarinet),  Dmitri Gaskin (accordion), Ilana Sherer (violin), Jack Hanley (poyk, mandolin), and  friends. Bruce Bierman will lead dancing.

More info:  www.subterraneanarthouse.org


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A New Year

Dear Friends,

I hope you all had a relaxing summer. I am sorry to not have sent out an update since June, but the summer has proven busier than expected!

However, I look forward to announcing my new and improved beautifully created website by Matt Jerome Technologies. I also have had some wonderful photos taken by Betsy Kershner. All in all, I hope you will enjoy the new look.

Secondly, I am excited to perform some wonderful music and engaging concerts for audiences in the upcoming months and next year.

This Weekend:

I am excited to be working with the Jewish Women’s Theater of Los Angeles this weekend. Its a wonderful day of Literary workshops and its….FREE.

Who: Jewish Women’s Theater
Time: 2-2:45 p.m.
When: Sunday, August 18th
Where: Palo Alto JCC
3921 Fabian Way


Next Week:

Next Thursday at Midnight, I will be performing excerpts from the modern opera Lilith and the Night Demon by Composer Josh Horowitz and performed with Internationally-recognized Eastern European Music Trio, Veretski Pass.
> This performance will take place at the Yiddish music festival KlezKanada in the Laurentian Mountains, an hour from Montreal. The selected excerpts from the show will be in preparation for the upcoming World Premiere in May 2014 in collaboration with The Jewish Music Festival and San Francisco Choral Artists.

When: Klezkanada Music Festival
Where: 1 hour from Montreal
Time: 12 a.m.

Find out more about Lilith and the Night Demon

More to come!


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Spring Song



Lyrics: M.M. Shaffir

Music: David Botwinik


Last week I was so inspired by the beautiful songs of David Botwinik while performing them in Pennsylvania. This lovely song is labeled “nostalgic” in Botwinik’s beautiful book of songs, I also see this song as a look into an enchanted picture of spring.




This song is great for both classically trained and non-classical singers. It can be performed in different keys, and venues and has a lovely subtlety in the music and in the way the poetry is set.  Also, it is music by a living composer which makes this very important to get into singer’s programs and on concert stages.



A breeze came up to a birch tree,

And kissed her branches.

The surrounding forest saw everything

And asked the trees to remain silent.


Then the breeze embraced her,

And she imagined

That the sky and the earth were just now witnessing

One of her true dreams.


A nearby stream saw everything

And there was nothing to hear.

The birch only trembled

And let out two glistening tears.


The sun hurried to set,

A bird warbled beautifully,

The forest listened

And evening drew near.


****If you are interested in this beautiful song and other amazing songs by David Botwinik, please learn about his music and buy this book: http://holocaustmusic.ort.org/memory/yiddish0/david-botwinik/


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March means Peysakh

Zog Maran

words: Abraham Reisen

music: Samuel Bugatch

Unknown to me this is one of the most well known Peysakh songs. It is in Songs of Generations, and also in most Haggadah’s.

A lovely Yiddish singer I met in Las Vegas described this song to me last summer, comparing the time of the Marrano’s (Spanish Jews forced to convert during the inquisition in the 15th and 16th century) to the Holocaust in her eyes. Having to hide your identity, and your religious customs.

It is a great addition to Peysakh repertoire.

A zisn Peysakh!



This is a great song for Passover, because it shines a light on a another difficult time in Jew’s history. The poem tells of brave Jew’s continuing to practice their customs in secret and the dedication that lends a quiet heroism which can be heard throughout the music.

The whole song, you are worried about the Marrano’s safety as they are pursuing their rituals in secret, but finally at the end of the poem you find that when they are asked how they will protect themselves, they answer that the enemy will find them singing.


Perform this piece because it gives a clear story that is easily relayed to audiences, or even introduced seamlessly into a Seder at your house, a synagogue, or a friends’ house.

Also, it is important to relay the story of the Marrano’s. As of this point in my own research, I do not know many songs of the Marrano’s.



Tell me, Marrano, brother mine,
where is your Passover table set?
Deep in a cave, in a chamber,
there my Passover table is set.
Tell me, Marrano, where and
from whom will you get white matzos?
In the cave, with God’s help,
my wife kneaded the dough there.
Tell me, Marrano, how will you
manage to get a Haggadah?
In the cave, deep in the cracks,
I have long since hidden it there.
Tell me, Marrano, how will you
defend yourself when your voice
will be heard?
When the foe will capture me,
I shall die with a song on my lips.


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Naye lid – New song

Dear Friends,

Happy new year!

With a new year brings exciting new concerts, collaboration with friends, new music and uncovering old music.

The 3rd Annual Hungry for Yiddish; A Mitzvah Project was a great success in Los Angeles and Berkeley raising a total of close to $1400.00 for Los Angeles local food bank, and Berkeley food bank. Thank you for everyone in attendance, and all the wonderful local musicians what a great way to end the year!

Newly posted podcast from Klezmer Podcast:                               http://www.mixcloud.com/klezmerpodcast/klezmer-podcast-99-heather-klein/

A Song of love:

Du, Du

Words: Aliza Greenblatt

Based on a Palestinian tune

A popular love song in the 30’s based on a Palestinian tune. Since the moment I heard this song, it sounded like a lovesick mermaid at sea meets Wuthering Heights. It is such a perfect song for longing, and anyone in a long distance relationship, can definitely relate to this one!

What’s to love

My favorite part of this music is the freedom of the verse and the constant of the chorus. The words in the verses are so beautiful in Yiddish, but really do not translate the beauty into English.  The music suits the Yiddish perfectly for the chorus section and has a beautiful pleading when speaking “du, du.” This is a great piece to use to improvise and create a really interesting arrangement with instrumentalists, or even a duet with another singer, or the audience. Enjoy; lovebirds.


I walk near the edge of the sea and look for your everywhere

A gentle wave murmurs the magic of your voice.

You – the most delicate of flowers. You – in all my dreams.

The skies expand in the distance and a breeze touches the shore.

The breezes whisper a heavenly melody, and longing flutters in my heart.

Take my longing, gentle breeze, and carry my greetings to him.

Tell him I long for him so, that I am dying of longing.

Pearls of Yiddish Songarranged by HLK

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Holiday Song

Dear Friends,

I am so grateful that I have followers that have read my blog this year. A blog is something I never thought I would do, since I wasn’t sure what I had to say. But, it has proven to be a great place to share some of my favorite songs and continue to get others interested in Yiddish song.

Thank you all for the support and I wish you all a warm holiday season and a happy new year!

During the winter season I produce a benefit concert for local food banks: Hungry for Yiddish; A Mitzvah project.

Come hear some of the songs that I have written about on my blog. Thanks for your support!                                     (Click performances for more information).

A sheynem dank, happy holidays and happy new year,



3rd Annual Hungry for Yiddish; A Mitzvah Project~


Thursday, December 6th @ 7:30 p.m.

Arbeter Ring (Workmen’s Circle) 1525 S. Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA.


 Thursday December 13th ~ 9 p.m.

 Subterranean Arthouse ~ 2169 Bancroft, Berkeley, CA


Holiday Song~

Di Chanuke Likht (or Tiny Lights; as it also is known)

music: Zavel Zilberts; words: Morris Rosenfeld

This song was introduced to me by a Yiddish singer from Las Vegas (my hometown). While going through sheet music in her house she sang this song to me. She didn’t have the sheet music, so I recorded her. Then, after learning it through her recording I found that I already had the music! It was an exciting moment to find that the sheet music was already in my possession. When you look at the music it looks like a classically composed song, but when I heard my friend sing it in her home, it sounded like a folk song she had sung all her life.

Why sing it?

This is a great Chanuke song to sing in the stead of some of the well known holiday songs. I am playing around this year with incorporating some newer Chanuke songs with some older ones that people know. That way, no one is completely shocked when they hear a new piece. It is a great song.


What does it mean?

Oh ir klayne likhtelakh

ir getzehlt geshikhtelakh

Mayselakh on a zohl.

Ir derzehlt fun blutigkayt

Beryeshaft un Mutekayt

Vunder fun a mol

Oh ir klayne likhtelakh

Eyerer geshikhtelakh

Veken oof mayn payn.

Tif in hartz bavekt es zikh

Vos vet vayter zayn?


Oh you tiny lights

You tell such stories

Chapters without number

You tell of bloodshed, preserverance and bravery

Wonders from the past.


Oh you tiny lights

Your stories awaken my yearning and pain

Deep in my heart there is this rush

And with tears within me I ask myself

What will happen now?




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October Song ~~

Back from high holidays and a little vacation I am fresh and ready to start my upcoming Yiddish song class. If you have enjoyed reading my blog, enroll in my class and sing, and learn these songs in person! Email me if interested: heatherklein.klein@gmail.com

From the song cycle: Five Yiddish Songs

Viglid – Cradle Song

Words: Esther Shumiatcher 1899- 1985 (Amazing lady if you want to know more: http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/shumiatcher-hirschbein-esther#bibliography

Music: Lazar Weiner

There are many lullabies/cradle songs that singers have found in music collections, but this is definitely one of my favorite as far as the words go. I love the music, but I really think the text is what stands out in this piece writte in the 1930’s.

What’s to Love

Shumiatcher really uses the Yiddish language, especially the consonants to convey her love of Yiddish and the sweetness of a child. Using the dimmunitive to convey an innocence that dwells in a blade of grass, a little pea in a little shell, and a little bunny. In English, not as cute, but in Yiddish it could even rock me to sleep. Knowing that the poet was originally from Belarus, you get that sleepy sounding “lyu-lyu” in the lullaby which I think always deepens the beauty of the lullaby.

Why sing it?

Though this is written with a classical accompaniment, I am definitely going to teach this towards the end of my class for more of a challenge. It is the melody that can haunt you if you get to know it well enough, but beginning singers, it is a challenge. The music feels more modern in spots, in fact more modern than the poetry, but it works well. This is a sad lullaby, you can hear the mother wishing for a better life for her child (like many Yiddish lullabies) but this feels different to me because the mother makes a reference to wanting to wander with the child in a dream-like state, which isn’t something I have heard before in lullabies. I also love the reference at the end when she wishes her child to “grow” and that the field will be  watching. Definitely a great piece, sing it!


A little piece of grass shoots up from the ground

sleep, sleep my little bunny, lyu-lyu

Cows and a little lamb have come to your little cradle

Lyu-lyu my child

We have no roof above us, you sleep under a straw roof, lyu-lyu my child.

You are wandering overhead, you and I and others. Lyu-lyu my child.

Your father is in the field; with the oxen.

a pea is happy in its cute little shell; and from the fields there will be a little bread.

Lyu-lyu, my child.

Grow my child, and grow big, the field is watching you.

Lyu-lyu my child.




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Song of the week – September 10th


In der finster

Words: Zisha Landau

Composer: unknown (published by M. Gelbart)


Just having come back from KlezKanada there was so much amazing singing and in particular a beautiful tribute to Adrienne by Shura Lipovsky. As Shura began to sing this song on the deck of the Retreat Center as Klezkanada, I remembered hearing Adrienne’s voice teaching it to me.  I remembered her breathy attack of the beginning as she almost dug into the warmth of her vocal timbre to bring out some pain and a whispered sexual tone. 


What’s the interpretation?

To sing this song I feel that your interpretation needs to be 1/3 sex kitten, have “benkshaft” (longing), and the other third needs to contain a smidge of pain.  This song to me is so sexual, as every orifice is explored in the dark everything is new and more exciting.  This person see’s their lover differently; softer, gentler, more pliant. The translation in SOG used the word “pliant” which could have many different interpretations to the singer.  Maybe in the dark the lover wants to be with someone else, and the darkness makes the current person’s appearance flexible then the lover can see whomever they want to believe is there.  


What’s to love?

As you have read above, this song can have many meanings.  It is an earthy melody that breathes darkness and sensuality and a long night of exploring another person.  This song is very wordy, but each consonant is there to create more sensuality with your mouth. It draws you in just like a lover in the dark. Have fun with this piece, and definitely sing it with someone you love, or dream about loving in the audience.  Enjoy!



In the darkness your eyes are prettier. In the darkness your hands are more delicate.

In the darkness, when I ‘m resting quietly far from you, you are softer, gentler, more pliant.

In the darkness, your face is paler. In the darkness, your fingers are softer.

In the darkness, when you close the shutters, you are softer, gentler and more pliant.

In the darkness, your face is gentler.  In the darkness, your heart beats more and more wildly.

In the darkness, if you call me, I don’t know where- you are softer, gentler, more pliant.

translation thanks to SOG (songs of generations)


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June 23rd ~ Song of the Week

Mehr darf ikh nit

Words: Isidore Lillian and Music: Sholom Secunda

This is a great song I found. When I played it on the piano I thought it really worked well with a Jazz-style accompaniment. Besides being a cute up-beat piece, it can also work as a fun theatre piece.

What’s to love

Here is another great example of an up-beat theatre song that can be played moderato and used toward the middle of the recital. One of my favorite parts about this song is the message. Corny as it is, “rye, pumpernickel; a piece of bread and a little love, that’s all I need. I think this message is well suited to the time period, as it is written during the war (1943) the sentiment and the words are simple which make the song easy to love.  What kind of goals do you have? This person obviously knows exactly what he wants and he is ready to scream it out, a pretty wife and a little love, more he doesn’t need. In 2012 most people need more than that, but, I love that Lillian has compared love to bread.  Still one of my favorite pieces that I really want to perform more often!


What is your goal in life?

Tell me, what is your goal?

A piece of bread with a little love

I will ask you what you want? Love or assets?

A stick of bread with a little love

If Eliyahu hanovi shows himself to you

And if you get a chance to be correct

When he tells you your hearts’ desire; ask me.

What would you ask; let me hear

What I want is a piece of bread, rye, or pumpernickel, with a little love.

More I don’t need.

What I want is a little room; my wife should be pretty, with a little love.

More I don’t need.

Are you looking for luck it’s found in love

Its sweet as wine refreshes the heart

All it does is unify the heart

What I want I will scream it out

I want is my wife to supply me with a little love.

More I don’t need.

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June 9th ~ Song of the week


Words: Lev Rozenthal and Music: Misha Veksler

3 years ago I started a concert series called Hungry for Yiddish. I wanted to put together a cycle of songs about hunger the homeless in the Bay Area.  Yisrolik is a song similar in poetry and feel, to the well-known song Papirosin. It is a great song to begin a concert because it has an upbeat tempo, and can get the audience involved by clapping.  

What’s to love

This is a great piece about a young boy in a ghetto wanting to sell cigarettes.  He is a street dealer, and wants to tell the audience about about himself; his characteristics, which seem to be common in many of these theatre songs, and it makes a great character piece. Also, I love that this song has very light-hearted lyrics, but then he ends the song with: “why remember and grieve my heavy heart?” All of a sudden, Yisrolik becomes more than just a schemer on the streets of the Ghetto, and you as the singer get to add that extra characteristic into this great song.


So, cigarettes I got’ em

And everything you need

Try my bargains, I’ve got the best in town

My life for a penny, my profit’s even less.

You know me, the ghetto dealer kid!

My name’s Yisrolik, I ‘m here in the Ghetto

My name’s Yisrolik, I’m hefty, tough and strong

I am always broke and yet, oh, can only muster a whistle and a song

2nd ending:  (whistling) Why remember and grieve my heavy heart?


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