Right before the Jewish wedding ceremony, usually during the time of the reception, the groom and two witnesses sign a special wedding contract called a ketubah. A ketubah is a Jewish wedding contract written in Aramaic, the legal language of Judaism, and states the husband’s obligations to the wife. The ketubah is later read out loud during the wedding ceremony and then is handed over to the wife, who is now responsible for its safe keeping. In Israel, the ketubah is a legally binding marriage contract, but in other places around the world, it only holds within the Jewish community and couples also have a civil marriage certificate.
The ketubah text is made up of the date, place of marriage, and the names of the couple, which is standard in nearly any contract. Then the ketubah goes on to say the proposal, the husband’s obligations to the wife which include basic human needs and financial security, money for the wife in case of divorce, and inheritance rights in case the husband passes away before the wife. The Jewish ketubah is meant to protect women’s rights and make divorce something very thought out.
Something that makes this wedding contract different from all others, is that a ketubah is usually not just a piece of paper but rather a work of art. Many have their ketubahs decorated and hung up on the wall for a couple of reasons. The first is to remind the couple of their obligations to one another on a daily basis and the second reason is to know where it is at all times. The wife becomes responsible for the ketubah once the couple are married, and so now she will always know where it is and can save it in case of an emergency in the home. Should the ketubah get lost or be destroyed by accident, a replacement ketubah should be obtained and married life is put on pause until it has been replaced.
A Jewish marriage is a meaningful one and the ketubah is there to set some rules, keeping everyone safe and happy within the marriage. Having a ketubah made by an Israeli artist is one way to bring an aspect of Israel into your marriage if you find it to be something important but many are just absolutely stunning like with these paper-cut David Fisher ketubot. If you plan on getting married this wedding season, don’t forget to choose a marriage ketubah that is right for you!