The "Better Times" Project

Janis Ian & Friends

Linda Gritz & Pauli Katz (Yiddish)

Better Times Will Come by Janis Ian Performed by Pauli Katz & Linda Gritz
  1. Kumen Vet Di Tsayt (Better Times Will Come, Yiddish) Pauli Katz & Linda Gritz 2:05


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Watch the video.

Play this on the jukebox and listen to a lot of other versions too.
You can also download all the different musical versions, in the order they went up.

Check Linda’s oral history project website for more info.
Also check the Klezmer Conservatory Band’s website, Jim Guttman’s Bessarabian Breakdown website and the Màiri Anna NicUalraig’s Scottish Gaelic page on this site for more info.

Kumen Vet Di Tsayt  קומען װעט די צײַט

Yiddish text by Linda Gritz
Recorded by members of the Katz-Gritz Family, October 2020
Pauli Katz (daughter), melody
Linda Gritz (mom), harmony
Mike Katz (dad), technical director

We are active members of Boston Workers Circle (Arbeter Ring), a thriving Jewish community that serves as a home for secular Jewish life, a voice for progressive Jewish values and social change, and an arts and education center celebrating Yiddish, Jewish, and progressive culture.

Currently (October 2020), all of our activities take place online, so feel free to join our community from around the world!

From Janis: When people comment on my wonderful ear for accents, I always credit my parents and grandparents. I grew up hearing English, Russian, Polish, French, German – and Yiddish. It was the language my parents used to keep secrets from me, which only intensified my interest in it. To this day, the sound of the Yiddish language pops me right back to my grandparents’ homes, where it functioned as a universal language for families of different nationalities who’d come to visit. My relatives and their friends might not be able to understand one another in their “native tongues”, but they all spoke, and read, and wrote, Yiddish.

Now, years after rebelling against the extra schoolwork my parents tried to impose, that would have taught me the same language skills, I regret not paying more attention. The Yiddish language is rich, filled with sayings my father’s mother would mutter under her breath when she got annoyed (“May you grow like an onion, with your head in the ground!” was one). A language without curse words as we know them in English, but plenty of dire warnings (another favorite was “May the Angel of Death follow you all the days of your life and jump on your shadow until it disappears, poof!”) And there’s always the famous Joe Singer compilation How to Curse in Yiddish, full of lines like “May you be bled dry by leeches, but enough blood should be left for the bedbugs, lice and mosquitos to dine well, too!”

Having worked with a few Klezmer musicians in my life, I began contacting them in search of a Yiddish translation. And in typical Yiddish-keit fashion, a cantor I knew passed the request on to someone else, who passed it to someone else, who sent it to Jim Gutman (bass player in the Klezmer Conservatory Band), who gave it to founder and director Hankus Netsky. Hankus recorded a piano track and sent it to lyricist Linda Gritz, and what he received from her was instead this a capella version, sung by Linda and her daughter Pauli Katz. 

Perhaps, after all this, you can see why I feel such an affinity with my Irish colleagues – just have a look at the “Gaelic Saga” on Màiri Anna NicUalraig and Aoife Scott’s pages!

At any rate, it was a real pleasure for me to hear a song I wrote, in the preferred language of my grandparents. I hope you enjoy it as well, and special thanks to everyone involved!

KUMEN VET DI TSAYT – קומען װעט די צײַט
“Better Times Will Come”, adapted for Yiddish by Linda Gritz
As sung by Pauli Katz & Linda Gritz

Yiddish Lyrics in Transliteration

Kumen vet, kumen vet di tsayt,
Kumen vet, kumen vet di tsayt,
Ven di velt vet fareynikt zayn,
O, kumen vet di tsayt.

Lomir shafn a velt on a shrek,
Ful mit freyd un libshaft on an ek,
Harmonye un haskome,
Nito mer keyn milkhome,
O, kumen vet di tsayt.

Kumen vet…

Af undz’re teg vet kumen a sof,
Naye doyres vaksn, blien uf,
Tantsn un zingen
In an eybikn friling,
O, kumen vet di tsayt.

Kumen vet…

English Translation (not singable)

The time will come,
The time will come,
When the world will be as one,
Oh, the time will come.

Let’s create a world without fear,
Full of joy and love without end,
Harmony and accord,
No more war,
Oh, the time will come.

The time will come…

An end will come to our days,
New generations grow and bloom,
Dancing and singing
In a never-ending spring,
Oh, the time will come.

The time will come…

Lyrics in Yiddish Alphabet

קומען װעט, קומען װעט די צײַט
קומען װעט, קומען װעט די צײַט
‏װען די װעלט װעט פֿאַראײניקט זײַן
אָ, קומען װעט די צײַט

 אַף אונדז’רע טעג װעט קומען אַ סוף
נײַע דורות װאַקסן, בליִען אוף
 טאַנצן און זינגען
 אין אַן אײביקן פֿרילינג
 אָ, קומען װעט די צײַט
 …קומען װעט

קומען װעט, קומען װעט די צײַט
קומען װעט, קומען װעט די צײַט
‏װען די װעלט װעט פֿאַראײניקט זײַן
אָ, קומען װעט די צײַט

לאָמיר שאַפֿן אַ װעלט אָן אַ שרעק
פֿול מיט פֿרײד און ליבשאַפֿט אָן אַן עק
חאַרמאָניע און הסכּמה,
 ניטאָ מער קײן מלחמה
אָ, קומען װעט די צײַט