Semyon Vaisblai was born in 1930 in Chemerivtsi. His father worked as a cap-maker and his mother, who died when he was seven years old, was a homemaker. He had a sister and a brother. His brother died under occupation, and his sister served in the Red Army during the war. He attended a Yiddish school for four years. During the war, he was imprisoned in the Kamyanets-Podolskyy ghetto. He escaped the ghetto and, when he reached Chemerivtsi, he became the servant of a German soldier. He was then imprisoned in the Smotrich ghetto, before being sent back to the ghetto in Kamyanets-Podolskyy. The remaining time of the war, he spent on the kolkhoz in Dubinka. After the war, he worked various jobs, such as supplier and shop assistant. He worked as an administrator in the Khmelnytskyy’s synagogue in for many years.

Other Interviews:

Oy vey tsu mayne yorn (Woe to my years)

Rebbe, Reb Shneyer

Khmelnytskyy, Ukraine

First part of the song "Rebbe, reb Shneyer" (also known as "Tsvey shayles," "Oy, rebenyu,"Tayerer rebenyu") continued to be popular in Ukraine and we heard it in various places (Iziaslav, Polonnoe, Vinnytsya). In this clip, Semyon Vaisblai sings a version that he remembers from Prokurov (now Khmelnytskyy), recorded in 2008. Here is a full version of the Yiddish lyrics with an English translation. The song was commercially recorded by Rebecca Kaplan and Pete Rushefsky in 2009.

Oy rebenyu, rebenyu rebenyu Reb Shneyer,
Oy, a tsore getrofn, mayn shkheynes shikse zeyer.

Oy, di shkheynishe shikse,
a make ir in ponim,
Iz gevorn mit mayn man di heymishe mekhutonim.

Oy, zog zhe, rebenyu, oy,
oy, zog zhe oy rebenyu, oy!

Oy, vaybele, vaybele - geyt aheym.
Un shikt tsu mir, zi areyn.
Un men nemt abisele ash.
Un me tutn arayn in a vash,
Ir zolt zikh gor nisht foyln,
Ir zolt zi legn oyf koyln.
Vet zi kosher vern.
Dear Rabbi, oh, Rabbi Shneyer,
Oh, a terrible thing has happened with my neighbor's gentile wife.

The gentile woman next door,
a plague on her face,
has become very familiar with my husband.

Dear Rabbi, oh, Rabbi Shneyer,
tell me!

Woman, woman - go home,
and send her in, to me.
Take some ashes.
Give her a good wash,
Don't be lazy.
heat her over coals.
She will be kosher.

Vaisblai also shared with us of Adolf King's well-known song "Sha Sha Der Rebbe Geyt (Shh, Shh, the Rabbi's Coming), which was written around 1922.