I’m obsessed with the song “Shein vi di Levone” (Beautiful as the Moon).
I’ve always liked the song. I have at least two versions, by the Barry Sisters and Metropolitan Klezmer, and then yesterday I discovered even more. Yeah, I know that Yiddish song isn’t really a big hit among my age group. I never did like the same things as everyone else.
I heard Yiddish growing up, from my mother’s side of the family. I know a smattering of words and some choice phrases. Then I studied Yiddish for a year when I was in grad school and writing about klezmer. That’s when I came across this song and decided it was fabulous.
Now the song is a sad one, though.
My grandmother and three of her siblings survived the Second World War. (There were eight originally; one died before the war.) The two surviving girls both ended up in the United States. My grandmother died years ago, when I was a teenager, but her sister (my great-aunt) is still alive. We don’t live near each other, but I love her to bits; she’s the closest thing to a grandmother I have left.
And she’s not well. She spends her days singing in Yiddish. And guess what song she’s been singing?
Shein vi di Levone.
Beautiful as the moon.
Shining like the stars
A gift from heaven
You were sent to me.
Pardon me while I go bawl. In Yiddish.