Tuesday, December 27, 2005

"My Zayde" by Moshe Yess


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As I stroll through blogland, peeking in the windows of your blogs, I notice that so many of you, especially at this time of year, or during the High Holidays, recall your grandparents with such a fondness, such a warmth of spirit.

Unfortunately, I only knew one grandparent, and he passed away soon after I turned four years old, so my memories of him are rather limited. But his gentle spirit, his smile and his goodness live on in my mother and all she represents.

For all of you who have been fortunate to know and have a Zayde, or a Zaydie, or a Gramps, or a Grandpa, or a Saba, or a Papa, or--as in my case--a Grospappi, this song with its beautiful and tear-jerking lyrics are for you.

My Zayde lived with us in my parents’ home,
He used to laugh, he put me on his knee.
And he spoke about his life in Poland,
He spoke, but with a bitter memory.

And he spoke about the soldiers who would beat him;
They laughed at him, they tore his long black coat.
And he spoke about a synagogue that they burned down one day,
And the crying that was heard beneath the smoke.

Chorus:
But Zayde made us laugh,
Zayde made us sing,
And Zayde made a kiddush Friday night;
And Zayde, oh, my Zayde,
How I love him so,
And Zayde used to teach me wrong from right.

His eyes lit up when he would teach me Torah,
He taught me every line so carefully.
He spoke about our slavery in Egypt,
And how G-d took us out to make us free.

But winter went by,
Summer came along,
I went to camp to run and play.
And when I got back home,
They said, “Zayde’s gone,”
And all his books were packed and stored away.

I don’t know how or why it came to be,
It happened slowly over so many years,
We just stopped being Jewish
like my Zayde was,
And no one cared enough to shed a tear.

Chorus

But many winters went by,
And many summers came along,
And now my children sit in front of me.
And who will be the Zayde of my children,
Who will be their Zayde, if not me?

Who will be the Zaydes of our children,
Who will be their Zaydes, if not we?

5 comments:

TM said...

Boy that brought a tear to my eye. I used to listen to that song with my Bubeh and Zayde. They loved Yiddish/Jewish music and I can thank them for exposing me to such a rich and beautiful part of our culture. And it's true, I do find myself thinking about them more around the holidays. Thanks for sparking that memory!

tm said...

Oh, and Happy Chanukah of course!

cruisin-mom said...

Pearl, I had a Zada...my mom's dad...he died when I was about 16, but I can still remember his infectious laugh...he loved his four grandchildren more than life itself.
That song is beautiful.

PsychoToddler said...

That song is really about the Jewish experience in America, right? We're losing the generation that was tied to Europe, and the centuries old practice of Judaism.

And the generation that grew up here broke away from it. Who will be the Zaydes of our children?

It brings a tear to my eye too.

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