YIVO, National Library of Israel team to acquire Chaim Grade collection

JTA) — The literary estate of Chaim Grade will be handed over to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York and the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem.

The joint acquisition, announced Tuesday, includes 40 boxes of Grade’s letters, manuscripts and photographs, and 20,000 books from the personal library of the Yiddish novelist and poet on the Holocaust. The physical documents will reside with YIVO at the Center for Jewish History in New York, and the two organizations will jointly translate, publish and digitize many of the works. 

Grade, a Vilna native, died in 1982, and the fate of his estate was in limbo after the death of his widow and second wife, Inna Hecker Grade, in 2010. According to The New York Times, Inna Grade had designated the Yiddish scholar Yechiel Szeintuch, a professor at Hebrew University, to take over the estate, but did not legally file the will, leaving the materials in the hands of the public administrator of Bronx County, N.Y. 

The public administrator invited a handful of institutions to submit proposals to acquire Grade’s works, including the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass.; the New York Public Library; Harvard University; and the University of Texas. The sum of the winning bid by YIVO and the National Library of Israel was not disclosed. 

The National Library of Israel, located on the campus of Hebrew University, will be eligible to display documents from the Grade collection in 2017, when its new building is complete.

According to the Times, YIVO and the National Library will seek to raise $150,000 to fund a fellowship for a Yiddish scholar to write a book about Grade’s postwar Yiddish milieu.

In a statement on Tuesday, YIVO said it was seeking $100,000 for the Chaim Grade Archive Fund to make the collection fully accessible to the public.

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