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​©Translated from R’ Yom Tov Ehrlich’s Yiddish song by Mrs. Dina Storch



The sun was setting, down in a flame
On waves its reflection would glitter
And there on the ocean a ship swiftly glides
With Russian Marines, filled with armor

The captain stands still on the deck of the ship
A telescope pressed to his face
He suddenly spots a magnificent shore
A city that glistens with grace

The city, Odessa, is lit at its port
It sparkles like diamonds aglow
From there our captain a melody hears
From days of long, long ago

The melody stirs him with memories of past
Familiar his youth filled with lessons
Not Beethoven, Mozart, not Wagner or Bach
This tune is quite different in essence

He’s drawn by the melody, feeling confused
Giving him no peace at all
He runs through the city and combs every street
From where comes this heart-wrenching call?

The melody draws him and so does his heart
He cries out to all passersby
But no one’s aware – they don’t seem to hear
The tune that makes each of us cry

As the melody grows, the captain’s in distress
He races through the city
Running in and out each street
Was it louder over here?
Or was it clearer maybe there?
…And suddenly the tune … has faded … disappeared …

And suddenly sneaking along a dark wall
He spots an elderly woman
She clutches a small package under her arm
Her eyes, under kerchief, are hidden
“Muterel!” he asks her, “a tune I do hear
My mind is filled with confusion
The streets I have raced and I’m drawn to this place
Perhaps it is just an illusion.”

The woman is thoughtful “Your face says it all!
Your dress tells the tale of a skipper
But you are a Jew and you yearn on this day
For tonight – is the night of Yom Kippur.”

“THE NIGHT OF YOM KIPPUR!?!” The captain cries out
“I remember my years as a child
And this is the nigun of Kol Nidrei
Stored in my memory … all this while”

“Thank the One Above
Who showers us with love
He picks the perfect moment
And sends us what we need.
Don’t you see,” says the woman,
“Our Baal T’filah has been taken
There’s no one here today … to lead the Kol Nidrei!”

He enters a courtyard surrounded by walls
His uniform soaked with his tears
The room’s filled with children, with women, some men
My, how he’s fallen these years

The Shul is tiny, the candles are lit
Somebody hands him a Siddur
He puts on a Tallis, his face turning pale
And slowly recites every letter
בישיבה של מעלה, ובישיבה של מטה
אנו מתירין להתפלל עם העברינים
And from both his eyes falling tear after tear
Streaked is his face with emotion!

The night is black – A drizzle falls – The ship stands waiting – The foghorn calls
The signals flash – The projectors bright
Searching for a captain in the middle of the night …
In vain it waits – A wasted call
The captain won’t be back at all…
They search the sky – They comb the shore
The captain will be back no more …
And slowly the sailors are weary and tired
While the captain has ascended even higher

He stands by the Amud bowing his head
The tears uncontrollably flow
He envisions his father descending to hear
His son of long, long ago

But how can he lead when his heart is so full
His mind, ready to burst!
He turns from the Amud and faces the Shul
Addressing the listeners first
Do you know, dear friends, what has transpired here?
Something so frightening and holy
In one half an hour a person to take
And make him so fortunate and happy

Yidden! Today I’ve discovered my joy
From the swamps I was drawn and uplifted
A niggun I searched and behold I have found
My faith that has long ago drifted

The night is black – The ship sails by – the stars all glitter – in the deep blue sky
Our captain has ascended even higher … higher …. Higher …

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