In 1982, COMMENTARY published in English for the first time The Rebbetzin, a 1974 novella by the Lithuanian writer Chaim Grade (1910-1982). Born in Vilnius, Grade began his intellectual life as a student of the noted Torah scholar Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, but by his late twenties had become one of his city’s most admired writers. The introduction accompanying COMMENTARY’S original publication of the story notes that Grade “specialized in exploring the inner life of East European Jewry between the two world wars—a period when such modernizing forces as secularism, socialism, and Zionism were in active and often ugly conflict with one another and with traditional religious beliefs and practices. No other writer rendered that world and its conflicts more vividly or with more intimate authority than Grade.” Set in Lithuania in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s The Rebbetzin takes as its subject the trials and tribulations of the aging rabbi Koenisgberg, his wife Perele, and their adult children. This weekend, we offer The Rebbetzin in its entirety, as translated from the Yiddish by Harold Rabinowitz and Inna Hecker Grade.
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