The goal of the project is to launch the website featuring the virtual reconstruction of the archives and collections of the Jewish Historical and Ethnographic Society (JHES) including essays and data on its creation, activities and liquidation, as well as on the fate of its collections.
The project is directed towards preservation and popularization of the legacy of the most significant Jewish academic institution, active in Russia in 1908-1929; it will also provide a new insight into the outcomes of Jewish studies in Russia at the most dramatic moment of its history.
What makes the project particularly relevant is that the JHES, founded in St. Petersburg in 1908, was the major center of Jewish studies both in Russia and the early Soviet Union. Famous scholars and social activists were involved in JHES activities, among them were S. Dubnov, L. Shternberg, M. Vinaver, S. Tsinberg, S. An-sky etc. JHES was the publisher of the seminal periodical on the Jewish Studies, Evreiskaia Starina (The Jewish Antiquity). In 1912-14, JHES supported historical and ethnographic expeditions to the shtetls within the Pale of Settlement, organized by S. A. An-sky. The expedition’s data represented the first attempt of systematic studies of the Jewish history and ethnography in Russia. In 1916, the first Russia’s Jewish Museum was founded, featuring primarily the exhibits collected in the course of these expeditions. In late 1929, JHES, Evreiskaia Starina and the Museum were closed down by the Soviet authorities. The archives and collections of JHES were scattered around various museums of the former USSR, including Ukraine and Byelorussia, some had left the country. By no means all the items pertaining to the history of JHES have been located so far, even though a number of related articles have been published.
Dr. Alla Sokolova, leading researcher at the State Museum of the History of Religion (St. Petersburg), researcher, lector and curator of exhibition programs at the Interdepartmental Center "Petersburg Judaica" (European University at St. Petersburg).
Alexander Ivanov, researcher at the Association "Petersburg Judaica".
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).
In the picture, from left to right, are: A. Rechtman, S. Yudovin, S. An-sky, Sholem Aleichem, O. Rabinovich (Loeva), M. Ginsburg at the exhibition of judaica collection gathered during the An-sky fieldwork, in the halls of Jewish Historical and Ethnographic Society (JHES), 1914. (Source: collection of the Association "Petersburg Judaica", № an-195)