Vayl ikh bin a yidale
The singer, Yaakov Rotenberg, claimed that this song describes the events of the beginning of World War II, when the Germans bombed the roads on the way to Warsaw from the air, killing innocent people on the highways. However, the song could just as easily have been from an earlier period, and received new meaning in the ghetto.
The refrain is an ironic commentary on the question 'Why do you sing?' The answer is 'Because I am a Jew'. The theme is developed by the contrast between verse and chorus, each verse reflecting on the innocent refrain, which in turn becomes less innocent and more ironic as the song progress.
The melody is a 'catchy' one in a minor key, probably of Yiddish theatrical origin. The first verse describes war breaking out and causing all sorts of speculation on the part of the Jews. The second verse stresses the results of the war for the Jews and refers to their common heritage as a source of comfort. Every Jew must mourn the khurbn (the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem). But this is not the end of the destruction, as more and more victims continue to fall. The verse provides the example of a young girl struck down in the street by flying shrapnel. And yet, although all this happening, 'because I’m a Jew I sing a song'. There are no more words to describe catastrophe, no more words to cry out, but the singing goes on. The third verse concludes with the moral: shrapnel and bombs can hit and kill anyone, rich or poor, fat or thin.