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Did Inna Grade Leave a Will?

Yiddish writer’s papers may wind up in Jerusalem

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Inna Grade.(Jack Manning/The New York Times/Redux)

The New York Times (a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture) has published the latest in its series of items on Inna Grade, who died two weeks ago. (The Times broke the news of her death. Oh, no, sorry, that was us, though you wouldn’t know it from the NYT—not to be peevish or anything.)

Inna Grade was the 85-year-old widow of the Yiddish writer Chaim Grade. She was best known in Yiddish literary circles as a somewhat miserable person who spent three decades after her husband’s death blocking scholars and translators from coming anywhere near his work. Many of those scholars and translators started chomping at the bit when Grade died earlier this month, seemingly without a will—and thus no clear inheritor of Chaim’s literary estate.

But a New York attorney is now claiming that Grade composed a will, back in 1992, and that he has a copy. The lawyer told the Times that Grade wanted her husband’s papers to go to a Hebrew University professor of Yiddish named Yehiel Szeintuch and his wife. If valid, the will is a blow to organizations like the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, which has reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Chaim Grade’s papers. Additionally, the Times reports that two septuagenarians who say they are Inna Grade’s first cousins have come forward as well, but have not expressed interest in her husband’s estate.

One thing is for sure: There’s a great sultry jazz number missing from Fiddler on the Roof. “If Inna’s got a will, baby, Inna’s got a way.”


New Twists in the Tale of Chaim Grade
[NYT]
Related: Keeper of the Flame [Tablet Magazine]

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Nechama says:

Perhaps Inna Grade has had reason to protect Chaim Grade’s Yiddish manuscripts. It seems vultures have been encircling these treasures & personae for their own reputations & endeavours. Perhaps the manuscripts should be serialized in the Yiddish edition & the English edition of the Forverts Newspaper & therefore be categorized as Yiddish in the public trust. On second thought the present Editor of the Forverts Newspaper asked his co-Yiddishist the following @ the newspaper headquarters when I was on tour as a student with the Uriel Weinreich 1999 Summer YIVO program held @ Columbia University: “[In relation to Yiddish & to the newspaper] Where have the Litvaks been?” This comment is an affront to Ab Cahan & his legacy. Or perhaps in Vilnius, Lithuania, under the tutelage of Professor Dovid Katz, who has been advancing the attributes & uniqueness of Lithuanian/Northeastern Yiddish language, literature, heritage, history & culture. We may be surprised as to who, davke, acquires his papers, how it plays out & who & what will be written about this tale as has been written with respect to the Chaim Grade vs. I.B. Singer Yiddish literary merits, feuds & camps. There are many spoons stirring this pot of soup. In the end I will pay handsomely for the Yiddish & translated text as this is capitalized-upon Yiddish, & not Yiddishist-Yiddish, which is what Inna Grade was afraid of.

An ingenious plan on Inna’s part–to preserve the sanctity of the “Grade inheritance” in its most pristine form, at least to the end of her life–and to keep the Jewish world looking in , inquiring about the latest turn, in her health. With obits that probably turned Singer like a latke on cast iron, in his grave,nuch? {the Alrightnik! The Galitzianer!} How else would some cranky old Jewish lady in the Bronx, with no kinder, kein gelt, and her farbisseneh punim –have ever accomplished such a thing ?

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I’ll read some of her papers for sure.

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Did Inna Grade Leave a Will?

Yiddish writer’s papers may wind up in Jerusalem

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