— The wedding contract —
A ketubah is a special legal document, the marriage contract, which is an integral part of a Jewish wedding ceremony. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom in relation to the bride. It was set up in ancient times by the Rabbis to protect the wife in case her husband died prematurely or divorced her in which case she would lose her financial support. To ensure the wife would not become destitute and without means the ketuba ensured that a sum of money was paid to the wife in the event the marriage ended. Nowadays a modern equivalent would be maintenance in the case of divorce.
— The Ketuba today —
Traditionally, ketubot are written in Aramaic, the spoken language of Jews at the time ketubot became standardized. Over the years up until more recent times, the content and style had basically remained the same with slight differences found between the sephardic and askenazic versions however in the last century with the growth of the conservative and reform movements changes have been made to include translations to hebrew and english for example and additional texts that help avoid situations of a chained wife. Other broader types of variations can be inclusions of texts from secular literary sources that reflect the individual lifestyles of the modern bride and groom.
— Getting your Ketuba —
Finding a suitable ketuba has become one of the more enjoyable preparations of the bride and groom as they lead up to their big day. Ketuba writing and painting has always been a mainstay of Jewish ceremonial art. There are many artists nowadays who apply their talents to creating unique and individual ketubot and these works can be found in many of the gift shops and artist studios throughout Israel and in the many stores throughout the world that service the wider Jewish communities.
— Your Ketuba, your wedding and your home —
Once the desired ketuba is found, it is used under the chuppa, the wedding canopy, as part of the wedding service. It is read out by the Rabbi and witnessed and signed by two people. It is considered an honor to be chosen as the witnesses and sometimes there can be a serious discussion amongst concerned parties as to who is to be chosen! At the end of the ceremony the ketuba is given to the bride or bride’s mother for safekeeping and often later finds its way on to the walls of the new couple’s home as an adornment for their new home.