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Articles:

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
7 Modern Papercut Ketubah Ideas for Your Upcoming Wedding
5 Reasons Why A Modern Ketubah Is Perfect for Your Interfaith Wedding
What to Consider When Choosing Your Ideal Ketubah Text
The Ultimate Anniversary Ketubah Text Guide
5 Reasons to Have a Custom Ketubah for Your Wedding




What to Consider When Choosing Your Ideal Ketubah Text

Are you planning your wedding and ponder the role a ketubah will play in it? If so, it's essential to consider the ketubah's history and the tradition that has developed around it. It's every bit as beneficial to think about the role it plays in modern Judaism.

A ketubah is one of the key symbols of the Jewish faith. It shows a couple's shared values—both spiritual and secular. An ideal ketubah text should be one that both establishes the terms of marriage and is flexible enough to allow that marriage to grow and flourish.

Because of that, some interfaith couples may think that having a ketubah for weddings would not fit them — they are incorrect.

What follows is some background on the ketubah and guidance for selecting an appropriate modern-day ketubah text.

Tenets of Judaism

p>Above all, Judaism teaches its followers that there is one God, "incorporeal and eternal," who wishes all people to do what is just and merciful. Everyone is created in God's image and deserves dignified and respectful treatment.

This tenet guides how Jews live and worship. It reflects their celebrations and symbolic rituals and the terms upon which they accept others into their faith—as they often do. Needless to say, it is also the foundation on which a ketubah text should rest.

Branches of the Jewish Faith

Some see the major branches of Judaism as a continuum. Often, those describing the faith align them based on their historical development. They focus mainly on the historical inclination of each to adapt to contemporary society.

The branches are:

  • Orthodox
  • Conservative
  • Reform

Within these branches, distinct movements have also formed. They include Ultra-Orthodox, Hasidic, Modern Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Jewish Renewal, and Humanistic Judaism.

Each branch or movement adheres to Judaism's fundamental tenets—though it interprets them in different ways. Each also has its particular interpretations of Jewish marriage customs. This influences how a ketubah text should be written.

For instance, the Orthodox text is treated as a legal document with many requirements. The rabbi does not always sign it, but two male witnesses will sign and confirm that the couple can meet the terms laid out in the document.

Reform Jewish or Interfaith couples tend to use formal but egalitarian language in their ketubah texts. They also enjoy a degree of latitude in selecting those texts.

Origins of the Ketubah Tradition

In ancient times, in today's Middle East, a father had to consent to a daughter's marriage. By giving up his daughter to a new household, he faced losing a contributing member of his own.

So the groom's family would enter into a mohar (financial agreement) with that of the bride. In the centuries to follow, these agreements' financial obligations proved a burden to many new couples.

Centuries later, rabbis instituted the ketubah as a commitment to the bride's well-being that did not involve gifts of money or goods.

Throughout history, ketubahs have been written in Aramaic. This Semitic language was a lingua franca in the Near East starting around the Sixth Century BCE. Then, it gradually faded from use around the Seventh Century CE.

When used in ketubahs, this historical language details the groom’s financial responsibility to the bride. English and Modern Hebrew translations of the Aramaic usually paraphrase the wording. Doing this makes it more accessible to today's Jews and their spouses-to-be.

Today, Israel is the only country where the ketubah is binding under both civil and religious law. In other countries, it is binding only under religious law and has to accompany civil wedding documents.

The Ketubah Text/h2>

Today, a Ketubah continues to be a brief yet elaborate written document outlining the terms of a Jewish marriage. Often, a ketubah text is purchased already written. Sometimes, it's created collaboratively by the marrying couple.

A modern-day ketubah text roughly approximates the vows taken at most traditional weddings. The couple's religious backgrounds and commitments play a significant role in how a ketubah text is created.

For example, different branches of Judaism will want specific wording. Interfaith couples might articulate their marriage expectations differently, too. They would wish to distinguish their combined beliefs from those of a couple with two Jewish spouses.

A ketubah text should also reflect the couple's cultural backgrounds and affinities. This is especially important today. The definition of "marriage" has changed as taboos (like same-sex marriages) evaporate.

Interfaith Jewish marriages have emerged gradually. But the practice is now widespread in North America and elsewhere. And today, the Conservative and Reform branches of Judaism recognize LGBTQ marriages as well as ordinations.

There has been a healthy demand for updated ketubah texts, including LGBTQ and Interfaith ketubahs. These can better reflect these changes through their wording and the principles underlying those words.

Choosing Your Ideal Ketubah Text

Professional artists craft many modern ketubahs. But despite the beautiful designs, only a ketubah's text contains the affirming words of the marriage agreement. To this day, a ketubah still requires the signatures of two witnesses.

A ketubah text should reflect a couple's faith and expectations for their life together. And, though it may sound archaic, per tradition, a ketubah text should also include the groom's promise to provide for his future wife.

As discussed, each branch or movement within Judaism has its specifications for a ketubah text. When considering ketubah texts, it's wise to consult with a rabbi.

In fact, the marrying couple's rabbi or other spiritual leader has a valued role to play. This individual consults on and gives a nod of approval to the engaged couple's selected ketubah text.

Suppose you choose to buy your ketubah text pre-written. Then you should know that most American ketubah texts consist of an Aramaic or Hebrew part and an English one.

The couple might ask the artist who writes and designs their ketubah to consider making certain additions or alterations to the text. If agreed, the purpose would be to capture the nuances of the marriage agreement more accurately.

Writing the Text of a Marriage

If you look at ketubah text examples, you might be surprised at the concise writing. A few words can capture a lot, though. And the fewer the words, the greater a couple's latitude in adhering to their commitment. That is, without being stifled by it.

Hang your signed ketubah in your home as a reminder. It doesn't only send a message about your marriage agreement but also about the long and evolving traditions that have shaped it.

And reach out to us at Ketubah Studio by MP Artworks when you're ready to choose your ketubah text. We'll help you make sure it's the best one for you and the values you wish to uphold in your marriage.

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