How to Choose the Text for Your Ketubah
Find the right English or Hebrew message
By Elisa Drake
The legal marriage contract for a Jewish wedding is called the ketubah. Its tradition dates back more than 2,000 years and originated as a way to give women more marital rights. The original Aramaic ketubah was a legal contract that promised a husband's property to his wife-to-be in the case of his death or their divorce, to ensure her maintenance and well-being. While Orthodox Jewish couples still use this original text, endless variations - from Jewish reform to interfaith to same-gender to secular humanist - now better reflect a modern outlook on marriage and serve as unique works of art.
- What You Need to Know
- A ketubah is a Jewish marriage license, and it is traditionally signed by the bride and groom, along with two witnesses.
- Your ketubah text is often determined by your religious denomination. Orthodox ketubahs include a traditional Hebrew message, whereas reform ketubahs usually include a more modern interpretation and English translation.
- Ketubahs are most often bought in Judaica shops or online.
- Consult your rabbi for instructions on how to fill in blanks in your ketubah text, as well as religious rules governing the ketubah signing.
Talk to your rabbi about your ketubah. You might not know exactly what you want yet, but you can describe the general sentiment you want to convey. The text on your ketubah will likely vary depending on whether you are orthodox, conservative, reform, interfaith, or otherwise.
View samples of ketubah text and recognize the difference between different styles and wordings. A traditional orthodox ketubah likely includes old-fashioned language that serves as more of a pre-nuptial agreement than a marriage license. More modern, reform ketubahs might include English translations and read similar to marriage vows. Ask your rabbi for advice based on previous weddings he has officiated.
Visit Judaica shops. They may have a limited selection of ketubahs, but it's helpful to see completed documents.
Peruse samples online. A simple internet search for "ketubah" will produce dozens of results that demonstrate a wide range of options.
Decide which text best suits your feelings about marriage. Within each general category of text, there are numerous variations, often depending on the ketubah provider.
Fill in your personal information. Most ketubah providers have a worksheet to use as a draft before the provider creates the final copy.
Go over your choice with your rabbi. He or she can ensure that any Hebrew (or Aramaic) text is correct and can give the provider an official sign-off (sometimes required).
About the Author
Elisa Drake has been a writer for more than 15 years, including for publications such as Ladies' Home Journal.
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