Ketubah or Not to Ketubah


Now that we’ve decided to go forth with the amazing Rabbi that we recently had the honor of meeting, the details of the ceremony come into play. The tug of war has begun with the give and take of specific aspects to be put in, left out and transformed. I’m cool with the Chuppah. I’m down with the breaking of the glass. Mostly because I like to yell “Mazeltov!”. It just rolls so nicely off the tongue, how can one resist? However, there are a few aspects that I really get hung-up on like the Ketubah.

The Ketubah or marriage contract is one of the more significant components within a Jewish wedding. Back in the day the Ketubah basically was a guarantee in writing that the man would provide for the woman’s needs and if he divorced her then he had to pay a specified sum of money to ensure her well being. In other words, it’s just like a modern day government issued marriage license but with a bit of a sexist edge. That’s a whole ‘nother post so we’ll just ignore that little piece…

Here in lies my dilemma. We weren’t going to get legally married on principle because we believe that everyone has the right to love who they want and in-turn should be able to marry who they want. In representation of our beliefs, we had decided not to marry until our friends could marry. Having our son Raiden enter our lives completely changed that ideology on a strictly legal level.

Either way, we were going to have a wedding to celebrate our love for one another and our life together. The legal representation of it was not important to us. That is until we found out that there is a ton of red tape to cut through just to ensure full legal rights to one another without it. Even if we somehow figured out a way around not getting officially married, it wouldn’t actually guarantee anything. So, we could go that route or we could just get legally married and have it done in one easy step. With the future of our son at stake, we weren’t willing to take any chances. So, hello marriage license goodbye good intentions. We had to choose our battles and unfortunately lost this one.

This brings us to the Ketubah. It holds no legal significance other than in Jewish Law. For me, Jewish Law has no bearing other than in respect for Alx and his family. For Alx, Jewish Law is circumstantial. So, Alx wouldn’t mind having a Ketubah. I’m not sure if I mind. I mean it’s just another contract, right? So what is my hesitance? I think it stems from that fact that a piece of paper means nothing when it comes to my love for Alx. We have already confessed our love and commitment to each other. We have been calling ourselves husband and wife for years, frankly because we have been living in matrimony. We don’t see our son as being born out of wedlock at all. The commitment was and is already there. The rest is just formality.

Our Rabbi has suggested that we have a Ketubah because it would be a great place to bring together all that is us. It can be as creative and unique as we want it to be. It can encompass all aspects of our culture, selves and family. Whether it be two-dimensional, three-dimensional, in English, Hebrew or Japanese, it could be the embodiment of everything of importance to us.

 Streets of Desire by Micah Parker

Well, when you put it that way, why NOT have a Ketubah? I mean really, it sounds right up my alley but I still have this little itch in the back of my brain that just doesn’t want it. I’m not sure what’s causing the itch or even if it’s significant, but it is really annoying. I’m confident that our Rabbi can help me scratch it but do I want to? This must be the nature of weddings or any other major event for that matter.

Maybe I’ll give a bit of slack or maybe I’ll tug a bit towards my end. Either way, I’m sure we’ll figure it out but there’s no one I’d rather be playing with than Alx. That’s the most important aspect to me.

5 thoughts on “Ketubah or Not to Ketubah”

  • I’m Jewish (born to an inter-faith family) and my husband is United Methodist.  We chose to have a Ketubah because I wanted some Jewish symbols in our wedding.  We chose a semi-secular wording in English and Hebrew and found a way to translate his name and his parents’ name into Hebrew.  We used and picked a pattern with two connected circles (wedding rings) – one has the Hebrew Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li and the other has the English translation.  Now my husband likes to joke that when he wants something (new tools) I have to let him do it because “it’s in the ketubah”.  It’s a beautiful piece of art commemorating our wedding and marriage.

  • Someone showed me Dan Sroka’s website and somehow I ended up here. I grew up in a Jewish household and quite frankly the idea of suggesting that marriage required a contract really turned me off. Well, I guess I’m not a very traditional kind of girl and it never occured to me to put a ketubah on my shopping list when I got engaged. But, Luke, who’s Presbyerian by he way and has no intention of converting, did some reading up on Jewish traditions and really liked the idea of preserving our vows in some kind of art-work that could be put up in our home and be as beautiful as a wedding portrait but without the egotism (let his mother put our picture up in her living room he says). While Dan Sroka’s photograhic ketubahs are increible, Luke decided that he really wanted something more traditional, strangely enough. A little Googling around led us to who have a huge assortment of (almost 250) different ketubahs with customizable Interfaith texts. I called their number and was invited to visit their Toronto showroom. The owner was so sweet and helpful my resolve not to have a Ketubah went right out the window. “It couldn’t hurt” says Luke, shrugging his shoulders like my dad.

  • My husband and I chose to have a ketubah as part of our interfaith wedding ceremony and it now occupies a very prominent space in our home. Our ketubah was handmade by someone very special to us and we chose a text that we felt spoke to our commitment to our partnership and to creating a home where all are welcome and respected. We even edited our chosen text a bit. I am including a link to the website through which we purchased our ketubah as there are some pictures of our ketubah and ideas about how to make your ketubah special and personal.

  • I came across your post and just had to chime in. I completely agree with your rabbi and Dan Sroka that a ketubah would be a terrific addition to your wedding ceremony. There is some debate as to what exactly qualifies today as a ‘ketubah.’ For example, many Reform jews or interfaith or even secular couples get married with a ‘ketubah’ that does not utilize the original Aramaic text used by the Orthodox. Many would argue that such a document is not technically a ‘ketubah’ at all because it is not properly fulfilling the mitzvah under Jewish law. Call it what you want, but many couples choose to honor the ketubah tradition in a way that makes sense for them, and most artists now offer a variety of texts that are more modern and egalitarian in nature to reflect that desire. And one of the best reasons to have a ketubah is that you can easily frame it and hang it in your home as a beautiful piece of art to enjoy and a constant reminder of the day you two finally said “I do.” It’s actually one of the few items that will remain after the wedding! Then, in terms of “bringing together all that is us” as your Rabbi suggests, you can either commission a fully custom ketubah, or let me suggest that you can write your own vows and can have them translated in the ketubah into another language or even two! (Hebrew, Japanese, whatever!), you can incorporate a phrase that might be meaningful to you (again, can be in any language), and/or you can find an existing design that “speaks” to you (many designs incorporate other cultures already) or customize an existing design or the colors or by adding a design element so that it reflects the two of YOU. The possibilities are endless, and with most artists printing giclee ketubot these days, it’s not hard to get a ketubah that is customized for you at a fairly reasonable price.

  • When people ask me if they should get a ketubah, I tell them yes, if it is something they feel would have meaning for them. The modern ketubah has been reinvented from its old ways. A ketubah for a modern couple is a personal statement of love, a personal symbol that expresses your marriage. I suggest ignoring all of the old legalistic implications of what a ketubah has meant in the past — unless you are being married in a Conservative or Orthodox ceremony, they don’t apply to you. Instead, think of the ketubah in the same way you think of your wedding ring: a public symbol of your love and marriage.


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