Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Bajrach Schafir

Born in Pshemishl in the middle of the nineteenth century. Gifted with a poetic talent and mastering several languages, S. created songs in four languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, German and Polish. At the age of fifteen he began to tour across the Galician cities and towns, staying months long in Brody, Kolomea, Lemberg and other cities, where he used to sing his songs in the wine cellars or in private dwellings during weddings. The number of his songs were great, and only a small part of them were published.

S. was one of the interesting types in Galicia. From one side he was a terror there due to his hul-meyishkeyt, from the other side however -- the darling, because he was the "comic" of the society, who made everyone laugh.

S. also often used to recite his creations, mixing them with a high German rhetoric, in the casino of Pshemishl ofitsirn.

According to Dr. Yitzhak Shiper, who heard S.'s more well-known song collection: "Fraydele the Mame" (Lemberg 1882), "Shir bat yehudah" (1883), "Melodien oys der gegend am san" (Krakow 1886), in 1893 the Leipzig theologist Dr. Zalman issued a collection of Yiddish songs "Judische Melodien Aus Galizien u. Russland", in which it is also found several songs of S.'s. S.'S songs consist of for a certain literary value. They possessed a lovely rhythm and were written in a more-or-less enduring ferzmos fun ymbn, trakheyen and onfibrakhn. Their biggest drawback is the badkhan-ish tsetsoygnkeyt and the deep German-like language. Some songs of Schafir's were nevertheless very popular, such as an instance of the national poem "Droysn blozt a vint a kalter", which was until today sung in Galicia as a folksong. For us there is of greater interest the second part of Schafir's "Melodien": "Oys der negend am son", which brought about a series of comical songs, couplets, satires etc., according to the manner of the "Broder songs".

Avraham Kahana (Ab"rkh) characterized S. and his creations as such:

"Unfortunately Shafir was a neglected talent who produced as a tandetnik only for the minute in order to earn a poor groschen." One volume of his songs S. called a "lkhm hklukl" D. H. a simple nothing, an instruction on the simplicity of Yiddish, and in the introduction he wrote a song in Hebrew, discussing the question because he wrote in Yiddish and published it only herewith, in the language spoken by six hundred thousand Jews.

The idea for his songs [according to Avraham Kahana] was "laughter, dance and knakn, and finally reformed. Calls for reform were by rabbis, betlnim-kloyznikes, opponents of newspapers, theatre, etc. But understood all the advice from the mouth of Bajrach Schafir was able to know a weak cooperation (?), he was too much "lts". The second bunch, were, the "lkhm hklukl" had already much less poetry, although here and there he made an impression on the various geferte vitsn across btlnim, rabbis, Chasids, the boulevard, reform movements, and other motifs that were partly cultural-historical, but not a poetic value. So it also was with the opportunity gedichtn due to the "ringtheatre-brand", Tisa Eslar protests, the death of Montefiore vkhdumh. Ale zakhn were farzen with melodies, ibergenitsevet, from other items".

Due to a criminal, S.'s crime put him in the jail of Pshemishl for two years, then he, after a long time, lived in Krakow, where he was a teacher of French, German and Hebrew, and he passed away before the World War, leaving many songs in his own handwriting.

[According to Jacob Mestel, who B. Perzenlik knew and was in a certain period witnessed from his activity, Sh. actually belongs to the series of the "Badkhanim-actors".

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", 1914, pp. 608-10.

  • Dr. Itzhak Shifer -- "Di broderzinger", "Morgen", Lemberg, 9 April 1927.

  • Avraham Khhna (Ab"rkh) -- Der yudisher trubador fun pshemysl -- birkh shafir, "Morgen", Numer 704, 1929.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 233.

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