The dissertation of the Soviet researcher in the field of Jewish ethnography Isaiah M. Pulner (1900 – 1942) "The Jewish Wedding Ceremonies" was not completed. The author died in the besieged Leningrad. The dissertation was preserved in the form of its last draft with incomplete author's editing marks.
The study of wedding ceremonies is one of the most traditional topics in ethnography. Wedding is not only a rite of passage, but also a space in which many elements of traditional culture are manifested: costume, cuisine, music, dance, etc. Meanwhile, there is still no monographic study dedicated specially to the Ashkenazi wedding. Pulner's unfinished dissertation could have been such a monograph, but it never happened.
Isaiah M. Pulner used for his research both analysis of various written sources – fiction, memoirs and religious literature and materials from his Byelorussian and Podolian expeditions to the shtetls of the former “pale of settlement”. This is the most valuable part of his research. The Pulner’s book (in fact, it is an unfinished book) is of double interest: it is, on the one hand, a detailed description of the traditional Jewish wedding, and, on the other, the important mile stone in the history of the ethnography and Jewish studies in the USSR.
Preparing the final version of the dissertation Pulner had no time to put all quotes in Yiddish in the taped text. It is necessary to restore a number of missing quotes, put the editing marks and so on in process of publication of the manuscript. Pulner’s work needs certainly a detailed commentaries based bough on contemporary situation the ethnography and in Jewish studies. The publication of the text of "The Jewish Wedding Ceremonies" will be preceded by three articles: 1) scientific biography of Isaiah M. Pulner; 2) archeographic description of his field materials; 3) the critical analysis of Isaiah M. Pulner's dissertation, its sources and its methodology. The main text will be accompanied by two appendixes: 1) the article "Music of the Jewish wedding", 2) the commented interviews with the Jews made in the former shtetls during the expeditions in 2005-2018. The monograph will be illustrated by historical photographs and works of Jewish painters and graphic artists dedicated to the Jewish wedding.
Head of the project team:
Prof. Valery Dymshits, researcher at the Interdepartmental Center "Petersburg Judaica" (European University at St. Petersburg), professor at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences (St. Petersburg State University).