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Natan Meir headshot JUNE2016

The Cholera Wedding: A Magical Ritual to End an Epidemic

This session explores the history and meaning of a peculiar ritual that emerged among East European Jews in the 19th century: to stop the spread of an epidemic, the community would marry its most vulnerable and marginalized members—orphans, beggars, and the disabled—to each other in a wedding held in the cemetery. We will examine an array of historical and literary sources that illuminate this hidden corner of Jewish life.

Natan Meir

From his groundbreaking research on the Jews of Russia to his work as a consultant for Moscow’s Jewish Museum, Professor Natan Meir has earned an international reputation as a scholar of Jewish social, cultural, and religious history. His latest book, Stepchildren of the Shtetl, recovers the histories of Jewish Eastern Europe’s social outcasts: the disabled, the mentally ill, orphans, and beggars, and he is currently engaged in a new project on folklore, magic, and sexuality in European Jewish culture. Students praise his classroom as an inspiring intellectual space. He also speaks eight languages and is probably pondering questions of historical causality—and what to make for dinner—while trail-running.

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CWB Lecture with Dr. Natan Meir: “The Cholera Wedding: A Magical Ritual to End an Epidemic”

Thursday, May. 7 @ 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM


accessibility friendlyhearing impaired accessibleThe full inclusion of people of all abilities is a core value of the Pittsburgh Jewish Community. Please discuss accessibility accommodations with the contact person for this event.

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To view candle lighting times for locations other than Pittsburgh, visit Chabad.org.