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.