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Chaim Grade (1910–1982)

Author of Rabbis and Wives

Includes the names: Chaim Grade, Chaim Grade, Chaim Grade, Хаим Градэ, Хаим Граде

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Chaim Grade was born to a Jewish family in Vilnius (Vilna), Lithuania, at that time part of the Russian Empire. His father Shlomo Mordecai Grade was a Hebrew teacher and an outspoken advocate of the Haskalah or European Jewish Enlightenment; his mother Vella sold fruit to help eke out a living for the family. Chaim received a strict religious education but also read secular books. In 1922, he gave up his studies and began publishing his stories and poems in Yiddish. During the early 1930s, he was among the founding members of the Young Vilna experimental group of artists and writers. When Nazi Germany invaded Vilnius in World War II, he fled east and sought refuge in the Soviet Union. Both his young wife Frumme-Liebe and his mother, who had stayed behind, were killed. In 1945, he published Doyres (Generations), a collection of poems previously published and more recent poems about his lost family and friends. He remained in Soviet Central Asia until 1946, then lived briefly in Poland and Paris, where he helped revive Yiddish cultural life and become recognized as one of the defining voices of Holocaust literature. He married his second wife, Inna Hecker, and immigrated to the USA in 1948, settling in New York City. Among his acclaimed novels, the best known are probably The Agunah (1961) and The Yeshiva (2 vol., 1967–68). His 1951 short story "Mayn krig mit Hersh Raseyner" (My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyner) was adapted into a film called The Quarrel and a play. In 1955, he published his memoirs, Der mames shabosim (My Mother’s Sabbath Days).
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