Sabbath Days and Extinguished Stars, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012 - Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sabbath Days and Extinguished Stars:

The Life and Work of Chaim Grade

A weekend course at the Yiddish Book Center with
Justin Cammy, David Fishman, and Joseph Berger

Chaim Grade

“Writers like Grade… will reach a wider audience as soon as readers feel the need to know more about their culture, and begin to look for literature to satisfy that hunger."

—Professor Ruth Wisse

Sabbath Days and Extinguished Stars will explore the life and work of Chaim Grade, considered one of the most influential writers of Yiddish poetry and prose. Many argue that Grade—and not Isaac Bashevis Singer—was the Yiddish writer who should have been awarded the Nobel Prize.

The son of a learned and enlightened Hebrew teacher, Chaim Grade (1910-1982) joined the ranks of the secular literary circle Yung-Vilne (Young Vilna). He escaped to Central Asia in 1939, after the Nazi invasion of Poland. When he returned to Vilna after the war, he observed the decimation of his city and his family.

Grade left for America in 1948 but never stopped chronicling the Lithuanian Jewish community of his youth. His writing addressed the tension between the secular and the religious. After Grade’s death in 1982, his second wife Inna Hecker Grade appointed herself as the sole guardian of his writings and reputation, effectively closing the door on any public discussion of Grade’s work or further translations into English until her death in 2010.

Now we have the opportunity to examine Grade’s work, which provides a window into the richness of Ashkenazic Jewish culture. Sabbath Days and Extinguished Stars will delve into Grade’s literary legacy and consider the unlikely story of his yet-to-be-explored archive of unpublished work.

Sabbath Days and Extinguished Stars will include four lectures:

REDISCOVERING CHAIM GRADE: Joseph Berger, the New York Times reporter who covered the death of Grade’s wife, will examine Mrs. Grade's fierce protection of her husband’s legacy and the significance of his contested papers for the literary world.

GRADE AND YOUNG VILNA: Justin Cammy, a Yiddish literary scholar at Smith College, will lecture on Grade’s early career as a Yiddish poet in Vilna and his role in Yung-Vilne.

GRADE AND THE WORLD OF THE YESHIVA: David Fishman, a scholar of East European Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, will explore the influence of Grade’s religious education on his major works, including his epic novel, Tsemakh Atlas (The Yeshiva).

GRADE AND THE WORLD OF MEMORY: Cammy and Fishman will discuss Grade’s underappreciated role as a post-Holocaust writer, whose fiction and poetry memorialized the lost world of Lithuanian Jews.

In addition to the lectures, the program will include small group discussions, a guided tour of the Yiddish Book Center’s gardens and exhibitions, a screening of the film The Quarrel (based on a Chaim Grade short story), and a special interactive exhibit related to Grade and Vilna. We’ll serve three kosher meals and there will be time throughout the program for informal conversation with the teachers and fellow participants.

The lectures in this weekend program will be filmed and presented in future online courses offered by the Yiddish Book Center.

The cost for the weekend is $260 for members and $300 for non-members. Join or renew your membership now to take advantage of the member discount. Then return here to continue the registration process or call (413) 256-4900 ext. 140 to register by phone.

Registration is now closed for this event.

Click here to view a complete schedule.

Friday, April 20

6:00 PM — Registration
6:30 PM — Shabbos dinner
8:00 PM — Welcome with Aaron Lansky and Lecture I: Rediscovering Chaim Grade (Joseph Berger of the New York Times)

Saturday, April 21

9:00 AM — Optional activities: Egalitarian, lay-led Shabbos minyan OR Tour of the Yiddish Book Center exhibitions and gardens
10:30 AM — Lecture II: Grade and Young Vilna (Professor Cammy)
12:00 PM — Light lunch
1:15 PM — Lecture III: Grade and the World of the Yeshiva (Professor Fishman)
2:45 PM
— Small group discussions
4:00 PM — Free time 
5:45 PM — Wine and cheese
6:15 PM — Dinner
7:30 PM Film screening: The Quarrel

Sunday, April 22

8:30 AM — Coffee and nosh
9:00 AM — Multimedia exhibit of Yiddish Book Center archival materials
10:00 AM — Lecture IV: Grade and the World of Memory (Professors Cammy and Fishman)
12:00 PM — Tour of the Yiddish Book Center (optional)

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Event Schedule

Friday, April 20, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

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