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What a Ketubah Is and the Significance of the Jewish Wedding Contract
Ketubah Designs That You'll Love for Your Wedding
7 Tips for Choosing a Ketubah Design for Your Wedding
The Interfaith Ketubah and How It Has Affected Today's Marriages




The Interfaith Ketubah and How It Has Affected Today's Marriages

Many marriage ceremonies today follow long-standing rituals out of sentiment and to honor previous generations. This is especially true of religious wedding ceremonies.

Given this, the emergence of the interfaith ketubah (plural: ketubot) should not be surprising.

The symbolic breaking of glass is a tradition at Jewish weddings. Like this, reading the ketubah, even by non-Jews and non-religious Jews, reinforces a sense of shared culture and community.

Join us as we explore how the interfaith ketubah has developed a unifying role in modern Judaism and society more broadly.

What is a Ketubah?

A Ketubah is an elaborate written document that outlines the terms of a Jewish marriage. How you write ketubah text depends on such factors as the branch of the faith it represents and the couple's preferences.

Whether the ketubah text is purchased already written or created by the couple, it is notably similar to the vows taken at most weddings. For instance, Reform Jewish ketubahs can often use formal but egalitarian language.

There are guests and witnesses at the ketubah signing ceremony. The bride, groom, witnesses, and officiant sign the ketubah to confirm that the couple can meet its terms. The couple usually frames the ketubah and displays it in their home.

How Did the Ketubah Originate?

The ketubah most likely began around 440 BCE, when the Hebrew Bible (the foundation for the Christian Old Testament) was written. It originated as the mohar, a financial settlement between the bride's and groom's families.

Somewhat akin to dowries in other cultures, this predecessor to the ketubah was created to compensate the bride's family for losing a productive household member.

This tradition gradually moved away from goods or property. It grew into a more symbolic document to explain the groom's responsibilities to the bride.

A thousand years after the mohar began, a formally codified version of the ketubah came into existence. Eventually, it evolved into the modern ketubah.

The Modern Ketubah

Today, every denomination in the Jewish faith uses the ketubah. These denominations range from Orthodox and Conservative to Reconstructionist and Humanist. Each has its particular traditions and protocols for creating ketubot.

Just as many of today's couples choose to write their wedding vows, so too do many Jewish couples decide to write their ketubah text. And many pre-made ketubah designs are available today, including some lovely ones.

The Interfaith Ketubah

Modern times also bring changes to long-held customs, and the ketubah is no exception. Today, marriages commonly join couples of differing faiths. As with interfaith wedding ceremonies, the interfaith ketubah incorporates and unifies religious differences.

Some people might consider the interfaith ketubah to be a show of disrespect for tradition, even an iconoclastic gesture. It isn't hard to imagine some faith branches, even individual families, rejecting it outright.

But this is also true of interracial marriages, for example. Not long ago, biracial couples broke through cultural (and often legal) barriers to marry. Other couples followed suit.

The interfaith ketubah also symbolizes a more recent emergence of and changes to the different branches of Judaism.

Reconstructionist Jews believe that Judaism represents the evolution of the Jewish people. Its adherents see Judaism, like life itself, as encouraging deep consideration of the past and a passion for connecting it to the present.

The Multicultural Ketubah

The cross-cultural inroads the interfaith ketubah has made have encouraged other faith groups to adopt this ritual for their weddings.

One notable example is an evangelical Christian couple in San Antonio. They chose to adopt the ketubah as part of their 2011 marriage ceremony, considering it a way to honor the role of Judaism in forming Christianity.

Modern ketubah practices also engage those of various sex and gender identities. Some Ketubah companies now specialize in customizing ketubahs to fit not only a non-traditional couple's gender identity but also their values and language preferences.

Choosing a Multicultural or Interfaith Ketubah

A ketubah is such a unique and personal item—one you will always treasure. So, when choosing one, think about your preferences and priorities ahead of time. Don't make it a hasty decision!

The following are some suggestions we came up with for choosing a multicultural or interfaith ketubah:

  • Get started with the planning process well in advance of the wedding. You never know what glitches or delays will come along, and you want everything to go well.
  • Involve one another as partner or spouses-to-be throughout the selection process, both the design and the text. Otherwise, the ketubah won't serve its purpose.
  • Discuss images that come to mind when thinking about your relationship. If you know where to find the original image, write it down. If it's an original thought, try to do a rough sketch.
  • Read through sample ketubah text for phrasing and concepts that appeal to you. Write these down, too.
  • If you decide a specific text captures your thoughts, ask the artist you're working with to use or adapt that for your ketubah.
  • If you want to write your ketubah text collaboratively, set aside time for a long and productive brainstorming and writing session with your fiancé or fiancée. Consult with your rabbi if you have one.

Now, send in your order and take care of the rest of your wedding planning!

Mazel Tov!

We hope you've enjoyed reading about the ketubah tradition. Should you get married and want one of our lovely ketubot, please reach out as soon as you know. We want to take the time to work with you and accommodate all your wishes!

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