Composed and sung by Yankele Hershkowitz in the Łódź Ghetto. Performed by Yosef Mulaz and recorded by Gila Flam in Israel, 1985.

Yiddish Transliteration

A ‘pensjonat’
Lyrics: Yankele Hershkowitz

Verse 1:

A ‘pensjonat’ gevot oy makhn,
Oy vey,
A ‘pensjonat’ gevot oy makhn,
Fresn, zoyfn in uplakhn,
Oy vey, oy vey,
Fresn, zoyfn in uplakhn,
Oy vey, oy vey, oy vey

Verse 2:

A ‘pensjonat’ an idilye,
Oy vey,
A ‘pensjonat’ an idilye,
Mit muzik un mit a vilye,
Oy vey, oy vey,
Mit muzik un mit a vily,
Oy vey, oy vey,  oy vey.

English Translation

The Boardinghouse
Lyrics: Yankele Hershkowitz 

A boardinghouse they decided to build,
Oy vey,
A boardinghouse they decided to build,
Eat, swill and laugh,
Oy vey, oy vey,
Eat, swill and laugh,
Oy vey, oy vey, oy vey.

Verse 2:
A boardinghouse, exclusive,
Oy vey,
A boardinghouse, exclusive,
With music and a villa,
Oy vey, oy vey,
With music and a villa,
Oy vey, oy vey, oy vey.

This song is a parody on a Yiddish folksong, 'Af dif felder, grine felder' (Over the green fields, on the plain) and it uses the inner refrain of that song, 'oy vey'.  It is the only song composed by Yankele Hershkovitsh that paraphrases an original song.  The original ballad, written by the well known Yiddish poet Zalman Shneor, tells of a soldier dying somewhere in the green fields during World War I, and asks a bird not to tell his mother of his death.  The theme underlying the ghetto version is also death.

The song is a critique of the Beirat, which in 1941 built a pensjonat, a recreation center of sorts, in the green fields of Marysin.  Marysin also contained orphanages and youth organisation centres as well as the cemetery.   The Beirat members did not know shortages, while in contrast the ghetto dwellers went hungry.  They did not feel guilty or ashamed, however, for living the 'good life' within the ghetto.

In the pensjonat (a Polish-German-Yiddish word) as described in the first recorded verse, the Beirat members eat and laugh.  The second verse informs us of the high standards of living they enjoyed.  All the lines rhyme, except for the 'oy vey, oy vey,' which was the experience of the dwellers' pain.