6: Song, "Di Naye Al Chet," lyrics by Morris Rund, music by Sholem Secunda, 1928, sung by Jane Peppler, 2016.
In “Di Naye Al Chet” ("The New Al Chet"), with lyrics by Morris Rund and music by Sholom Secunda, copyrighted in 1928, individuals confess their failings on Yom Kippur, even as they suffer from poverty. Drawing on text from the traditional confessional prayer (Al Chet) that is said on Yom Kippur, the song pokes fun at the characters for their grudging confessions, while also chastizing a God who would punish their small missteps with such hardship. Jane Peppler, who performs the song together with Aviva Enoch and Randy Kloko, translated the lyrics. She is a Yiddish music specialist who performs little-known Yiddish theater music from before the Holocaust. Her Polish Jewish Cabaret website features more than 100 Yiddish theater songs with English subtitles. She also hosts Yiddish Penny Songs, a site featuring over a hundred tenement song broadsides from the beginning of the twentieth century.
Suggested Activity: Have your students listen to the song and ask the following questions: How is the song related to the Jewish traditions of Yom Kippur? Do you see the song as participating in prayer in some way? Is the song humorous? Is it bitter?
Invite your students to write a new stanza for the song that has a similar structure and tone but takes place in the present day.
"Di Naye Al Chet," lyrics by Morris Rund, music by Sholem Secunda, 1928, sung by Jane Peppler, 2016. Lebedik Yankel: Yiddish Songs from Warsaw Volume 2. Published with permission from Jane Peppler.