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Rabbis and Wives (1974)
by Chaim Grade
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These three superb novellas by the internationally celebrated Chaim Grade reaffirm his reputation as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Yiddish writers of our time. Combining the richness of character and the moral concern that have consistently marked Grade's work, these stories offer a luminous picture of Jewish life in Lithuania between the two world wars, with its everyday problems and its spiritual yearnings. The characters portrayed will strike responsive chords in today's readers. 'The Rebbetzin' is the account of an ambitious woman who constantly pushes forward her scholarly husband, with the image always before her of the more eminent rabbi to whom she was once betrothed. In 'Laybe-Layzar's Courtyard' Grade gives us the people of a crowded Jewish neighborhood in Vilna, among them a fanatical pietist, a restless playboy and his vindictive wife, and a rabbi who finds that he cannot escape the yoke of the rabbinate or involvement in the destinies of others. In 'The Oath' a dying merchant extracts a series of pledges from his wife and children that will profoundly alter the course of their lives.
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