Text & Translation

צוויי לידער

Two Poems

Miryam Ulinover

Translation by Mindy Liberman


Miryam Hirshbeyn (1888/1890 – 1944) was born into an observant, middle class family in Łódź, Poland. Sholem Aleichem encouraged her to write when visiting Lodz in 1905. In 1912 she married Volf Ulinover, a merchant from a Hasidic family; they had two daughters. She wrote first in Polish, German and Russian but eventually only in Yiddish, publishing in Yiddish newspapers and journals from 1915 on. She published a book of poetry, Der bobes oytser (Grandmother’s Treasure,) edited by poet and critic Dovid Frishman in 1922. It was well received, but it remained her only published book. Several of her poems were included in Ezra Korman’s anthology Yidishe dikhterins (Yiddish Women Poets) Chicago, 1928. Five handwritten poems were found in the Warsaw Ghetto Ringelblum Archives. They are included in Poetry in Hell: Yiddish Poetry in the Ringelblum Archives, translations by Sarah Traister Moskovitz. She had apparently sent them to Itsik Manger at Haynt, a Warsaw daily, where some were accepted for publication. Ulinover mentored younger poets, hosting a literary circle in her home. She and her family were interned in the Łódź ghetto in February 1940. She continued to hold the literary evenings until deported and murdered in Auschwitz, August 1944. It was thought she had manuscripts with her, but none were found. Der bobes oytser was reprinted in Jerusalem, 1975, edited by Dov Sadan. with Hebrew translations by Yehoshua Tan Pai, A complete collection of her poems appeared as Un Bonjour du Pays Natal, edited and with a scholarly introduction by Natalia Krynicka, with French translations by Batia Baum, Paris, Bibliothèque Medem, 2003. Her work is discussed in A Question of Tradition by Kathryn Hellerstein, Stanford University Press, 2014.

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אַ שבת־גרױל

שטום געלעגן איז אַ מידער
שבת־פֿרידן אומעטום,
אין דער לופֿט אַ שבת־ניגון
איז געגאַנגען ציטריק אום.
פּלוצלינג בלאָזט אַ װינט אַ קאַלטער,
ס׳װאַקסט אַ יאָמער, גרויס, אַלץ גרעסער;
ס׳האָט אַ ייִד געקױלעט ס׳װײַבל
מיט דעם שבת־מוציא־מעסער!...

A Sabbath Horror

Silent and peaceful everywhere
Lay a weary Sabbath calm,
In the air, vibrating gently
Came a tender Sabbath song.
But suddenly a cold wind blows
A loud lament swells up and grows:
Someone has killed his little wife
Using the challah-blessing-knife!…

צו מאָרגנס

און שבת צו מאָרגנס װערט ליכטיק און שײן,
קאָנסט װוּנדער פֿון טײַטש־חומש הערן און זען,
װען פֿון באָבעס װערט בײַ אונדז אַרומגערעדט,
װי די מאַמע שׂרה לאַכט זיך אױס אין בעט
אין איר שענסטן קאָפּטוך, גליקלעך, שטאָלץ ביז גאָר,
אַז מלאָכים־צוזאָג איז געװאָרן װאָר...
און פֿון גאָלד׳נעם מיזרח שטראָמט אַ זיסער דופֿט,
און דאָס סעדל באָדט זיך אין באר־שבֿע־לופֿט,
און די הימלען שמײכלען נסימדיק און בלאָ:
אין די באָבע־יאָרן ג׳האַט אַ זונעניו !

In the Morning

And Sabbath morning dawns under sunlit skies,
Wonders of the Bible dance before our eyes,
When we gossip about grandmothers we knew,
How Mother Sarah, her best scarf on her head,
Proud as she could be, the angels’ words came true,
Laughed with merriment right out loud in her bed …
And from the golden east wafts a sweet perfume,
And the Be’er Sheva winds bathe the orchard blooms.
And the blue skies smile, such miracles, such joy:
In her grandmother years, a small baby boy!

Miryam Ulinover. “Two Poems.” In geveb, June 2020: Trans. Mindy Liberman . https://ingeveb.org/texts-and-translations/two-poems-ulinover.
Miryam Ulinover. “Two Poems.” Translated by Mindy Liberman . In geveb (June 2020): Accessed Sep 22, 2020.


Miryam Ulinover


Mindy Liberman

Mindy Liberman is a retired librarian living in Los Angeles