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Chaim Grade (April 4, 1910, in Vilna, Russian Empire [now Vilnius, Lithuania] — April 26, 1982, Los Angeles, California, Buried in Riverside Cemetery Saddle Brook, NJ ) was one of the leading Yiddish writers of the twentieth century.
Total Books: 12
Chaim Grade, the son of Shlomo Mordecai Grade, a Hebrew teacher and maskil (advocate of the European Enlightenment), received a secular as well as Jewish religious education. He learned for several years with Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, the Chazon Ish (1878—1953), one of observant Judaism's great Torah scholars. In 1932, Grade began publishing stories and poems in Yiddish, and in the early 1930s was among the founding members of the "Young Vilna" experimental group of artists and writers. He developed a reputation as one of the city's most articulate literary interpreters.
Towards the German invasion of Vilnius in World War II, Grade fled eastward and sought refuge in the Soviet Union. When the war ended, he lived briefly in Poland and France before relocating to the United States in 1948.
Grade's postwar poetry is primarily concerned with Jewish survival in the wake of the Holocaust, among whose victims were his wife Frumme-Liebe Grade, the daughter of the Rabbi of Glebokie, and his mother Vella Grade Rosenthal, daughter of Rabbi Rafael Blumenthal.
Grade's most highly acclaimed novels, The Agunah (1961, tr. 1974) and The Yeshiva (2 vol., 1967—68, tr. 1976-77), deal with the philosophical and ethical dilemmas of Jewish life in prewar Lithuania, particularly dwelling on the Novardok Mussar movement. These two works were translated from the original Yiddish into English by Curt Leviant. Grade's short story, "My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyner," describes the chance meeting of a Holocaust survivor with an old friend from the mussar Yeshiva. The narrator has lost his faith, while the friend has continued to lead a pious and devoted religious life. The former friends debate the place of religion in the postmodern world. The story has been made into a film, The Quarrel and a play.
Grade's second wife Inna (née Hecker) died in New York on May 2, 2010. She had translated a number of his books into English.
While less famous than Isaac Bashevis Singer or Sholem Aleichem, Chaim Grade is considered among the foremost stylists in Yiddish. His work is now hard to find in English.