Yiddish Chanukah Poem
Oy ir kleyne likhtelekh
Yiddish Chanukkah poem by Morris Rosenfeld, in English translation by Theodore Bikel
Translator's note:
Bear in mind that the poet died in 1924, and wrote this at a time when there was no Israel
and the notion of Jews fighting for and gaining their homeland was but a distant longing.

O ir kleyne likhtelekh
Ir dertselt geshikhtelekh
Mayselekh on tzol
Ir dertseylt fun blutikeyt
Beryeshaft un mutikeyt
Vunder fun amol.

Ven ikh zey aikh shminklendik
Kumt a kholem finklendik
Ret an alter troym
Yid, du host gekrigt a mol
Yid, du host gezigt a mol
Ot dos gloybt zikh koym

S'iz bay dir a tolk geven
Bist amol a folk geven
Host amol regirt
Host amol a land gehat
Host amol a hant gehat
Akh, vi tif dos rirt.

O, ir kleyne likhtelekh
Ayere geshikhtelekh
Vekn oyf mayn payn
Tif in harts bavegt es zikh
Un mit trern fregt es zikh
Vos vet itster zayn?
  O little lights of mystery
You recall our history
And all that went before
The battles and the bravery
And our release from slavery
Miracles galore.

As my eyes behold your flames
I recall our heroes' names
And our ancient dream:
“Jews were learning how to fight
To defeat an awesome might
They could reign supreme”

“They would rule their own domain
When the enemy was slain,
The Temple cleansed and whole.
Once there was a Jewish land
And a mighty Jewish hand.”
Oh, how it moves my soul!

O little lights of mystery
You retell our history
Your tales are tales of pain.
My heart is filled with fears
My eyes are filled with tears
"What now?" says the haunting refrain.
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