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Shvartze Khasene: Black weddings among Polish Jews

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Abstract

On September 1, 1892, Gazeta Lubelska described two weddings that had taken place a day earlier in Lublin's Jewish cemetery. The ceremonies sparked interest not only because of their morbid location, but also because they included a mysterious ritual: four young women were harnessed to a plough and made to plough around the town limits on the Biskupice side.1 These activities were intended to halt the typhus epidemic that was raging in the vicinity.2 Additional strange rituals were undertaken by local Lublin Jews. The water from the local pond was secretly (and illegally) released, and the chains of the ponds' barrier were buried at the cemetery.3 That same year, a similar wedding was held in a cemetery in Opatów. 4 In addition to the ceremony itself, the feast and celebration, including the dancing, took place in the town's cemetery. According to local lore, the epidemic subsided a few days later. Similar cemetery weddings from that period are mentioned in the Memorial Book (Yizkor Bukh) of the Ryki Community.5. © 2011 by Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan 48201. All rights reserved.

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