Tsi darf es azoy zayn?

'Tsi darf es azoy zayn?' (Does it have to be this way?) was another one of the popular creations of the Vilna ghetto theatre's songwriter Kasriel Broydo. Making reference to how much things have changed during the war, the lyrics question why things have to be this way.

English translations by Lloica Czackis and Bella Klein. All lyrics have been adapted and transliterated according to the standardized YIVO Yiddish, except for where is required by rhyme.

This recording, recreated by Gustavo Beytelmann, is from the CD, Tangele: The Pulse of Yiddish Tango available worldwide. The accompanying booklet contains translations of all lyrics to English. Courtesy of Tzadik and Tangele.

The same streets and trolleys, 
Numbers eleven and four,
The same newsboys are rushing, shouting:
“Buy a newspaper, buy from me.”
It is the same blue sky,
But the person under it, is no longer the same;
The sun continues to shine as if not understanding,
I hear a voice within me that asks:
     Does it have to be this way?
     Must it be this way?
     That happiness is destined for one,
     Yet for another everything is prohibited.
     Who determined that
     The world should be this way?
     My heart asks,
     Does it have to be this way?
     Does it?
For them the squares and boulevards,
For me such a pauper’s place.
Why should the others always fool me,
Why for me there is only a well of tears?
Why does it say on that sign:
“Entry is forbidden”?
For them, why is my house, my little berth
My bed, as hard as a stone?
     Does it have to be this way?...

Di zelbe gasn un tramvayen,  
Numern elf un fir,
Di zelbe yinglekh loyfn, shrayen:      
“A tsaytung koyft zhe, koyft bay mir.”         
Der zelber himl, nor nisht enlekh
Der mentsh vos unter im;       
Es shaynt di zun alts nisht farshtendlekh,     
Ikh her es fregt in mir a shtim:           
     Tsi darf es azoy zayn?                   
     Tsi muz es azoy zayn?                   
     Az far eynem iz glik bashert,                    
     Un far dem tsveytn iz alts farvert.            
     Ver hot es ayngeshtelt,                 
     Azoy zol zayn di velt?                  
     Es fregt, un vekt dos harts mayns:
     Tsi darf azoy zayn?           
     Darf azoy zayn?                
Far zey di skvern un bulvarn, 
Far mir aza kvartal.    
Farvos zol yener mikh alts narn?        
Farvos far mir a trern-kval?    
Farvos der oyfshrift oyfn bretl:         
“Farvert iz vayter geyn”?       
Farvos far zey mayn heym, mayn betl,          
Un mayn geleger hart vi shteyn?       
     Tsi darf es azoy zayn?...