Ikh fur kayn Palestine

This song was sung in the ghetto after a rumour spread that Britain – the ruling power in Palestine at that time – had agreed to let Palestine become the Jewish state.  This rumour, like many others, gave the ghetto inhabitants false hope, a feature often transmitted by Yankele Hershkowitz in his topical songs. 


The song is laden with Jewish imagery, and includes terms and heroes drawn from tradition and appropriate to the fantasy of the Jewish country described. 'I am going to Palestine' says the singer, 'that is the golden land.'  This line subverts the term 'the golden land' which immigrants usually used to refer to America rather than the 'land of milk and honey' of the Zionist dream.  The singer describes his new life: every day he will kiss the mezuzah (the amulet containing sacred texts on every Jewish doorpost), go to the mikveh – the ritual bath, and sing 'Hatikvah' the Jewish national hymn.  In Palestine, his life will be dream-bright, he will plant oranges and the moon will shine. 


In the refrain, the singer declares his in intention to bless the etrog – the citron fruit, not only during the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles, but every day and to kiss the phylacteries (as a religious Jew should).


The name Yoshe Kalb, is taken from the novel of that title, written by I. J. Singer and published in 1932, which was later adapted into a popular play.  Kalb is a Polish Jew who yearns both for women and for God and finally commits adultery. He then disappears, and returns as a different person in the story.  This symbol of Yoshe Kalb serves the singer in suggesting that when the ghetto inhabitants are free, they will begin a new life in the golden land, Israel.


The verse describes the passion for Israel felt by everyone.  Each person has a particular reason for wishing to live in Palestine.  The black marketers of Nowomiejska Street, want to go there as their businesses in the ghetto are weak, Rubin and his son want to go too, as do Goldman and his seven daughters – a reminder of Shalom Aleichem’s hero Tevye the milkman and the fate of his seven daughters.  Even Rumkowski longs to go there with his friends and army of bodyguards.


The last three lines describe the celebration that would take place after the declaration of the independent state of Israel.  This prophecy became true only on 29 November 1947, after the inhabitants of the Łódź ghetto had perished.    


This song is a Zionist song though it is full of humour.  Yankele Heshkowitz's Zionism was closer to that of the Jewish Bund’s notion of being a Jew wherever one finds oneself, than to the Zionist ideology of territory and a state for the Jewish people.

This song was composed and performed by Yankele Hershkowitz.  It was sung to Gila Flam by Yaakov Rotenberg in Israel who entitled it 'A Dream in the Ghetto'.

Words: Yankele Hershkowitz
Ikh fur kayn Palestine
Ikh fur kayn Palestine,
Dortn iz a goldene medine.
Ikh vel kishn di mezize,
In di levune shaynt.
Kh’vel zikh toyvln in der mikve,
Yedn tug zingen di tikve
Ikh vel flantsn pomerantsn,S’vet zany olerayt!
Ikh vel veyrn dozer in der kehile,
Bentshn esrog in kishn di tfilim,
In reb yoshe kalb
Vet zany undzer fraynd;
Servus yidn ikh fur ahaym.
Di novemyeske gas, oy, oy,
Di sokhrim zenen blat, oy, oy,oy,
Ale zenen haynt shoyn playte,
S’iz dokh nisht kayn shpas.
Rubin mit zayn zin,
Shmekn dort ahin,
Goldman mit di zibn tekhter,
Moyshe tsiker shmil.
Rumkowski mit zany armey,
Viln kayn eretz yisruel arayn.
M’vet klapn in polkn,
A gantse tsayt,
A gedile vet zayb, olerayt. 
Chorus: Ikh fur kayn palestine

I'm going to Palestine
Letter: Yankele Hershkowitz

I'm going to Palestine,
That golden land.
To kiss the mezuzah,
And the moon shine.
I'll immerse myself in mikveh,
Every day I sing Hatikva.
I'll plant oranges,
Everything will be fine!

I will bless the etrog
And I kiss the tefillin,
And Rabbi Yoshe Kalb
Will be our friend,
Goodbye, Jews, I'm going home.


The Nowomiejska street, oy, oy,
Their illegal traders, oy, oy, oy
We all have escaped,
It is no longer a joke.
Rubin with his son,
They want to go there,
Goldman and his seven daughters,
And Moshe Tsiker-Shmil.
Rumkowski and his army,
They also want to enter Eretz Israel.
We will make noise,
In that moment,
We will celebrate!

I’m going to Palestine