Now that we’re getting closer to our wedding date, I’m excited to share with you some of the final details coming together for our big day. Our ketubah, or Jewish wedding contract, has arrived! The ketubah is a document signed by the couple as a symbol of the vows they make on their wedding day. Today, a ketubah is often a treasured piece of art, made such by the principle of hiddur mitzvah, which says that whenever a physical object is needed to fulfill a commandment, the object should be made as beautiful as possible. To learn more about ketubot, you can read my post here.
We decided to purchase our ketubah from Naomi Shiek, the artist behind Woodland Papercuts. Naomi was wonderful to work with and I cannot recommend her highly enough. She was very quick to respond to all of my questions, sent us multiple proofs, and coordinated with our rabbi directly to make sure that he approved all of our text selections. Even though Naomi lives a world away in Israel, her work arrived quickly and impeccably packaged.
Paper cutting is a very old art form that has origins in many cultures, including European Judaism. Cut paper ketubot have been found dating back to the 17th century! Mr. T and I were both very drawn to these beautiful works of art, and we decided to choose one for our ketubah.
We chose Naomi’s Winter Berries Ketubah design with a gold background. Choosing our design was simultaneously easy and so difficult because all of her designs are so beautiful. The text at the top is a traditional Conservative text written in Aramaic, an ancient language written using the Hebrew alphabet. The traditional text is what makes a ketubah “kosher,” and it all depends on how you observe, what you believe, and what your rabbi agrees to sign.
The background behind the cut paper layer is a hand-painted gold paper. Combined with the white and ivory paper layers, I think it creates an understated, classy, and timeless look.
Many couples choose to include a verse or phrase on their ketubahs, such as, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” which is a verse often recited during the wedding ceremony. We chose the verse, “You and I, in joy and happiness without end,” an alternative I discovered during a late-night ketubah research session. This verse spoke to us and we felt it described well our hopes for our future together.
Mr. T and I composed the English text together based on several we read online. One helpful source in our search was Modern Ketubah. For us, the English text was what was most important to us. While the traditional text makes our marriage kosher in the eyes of the Jewish community as a whole, there are still many groups of people who will still not see our wedding as valid, since I am a Jew by choice. We feel very lucky to live in a place in the world in which people are free to marry as they choose, and also where women are equal partners and have equal legal rights in the relationship. For us, the English text is most important because it is our native language and reflects most accurately our vows and promises for each other. This is the text we decided on:
“Let the world witness that on the ___th day of May in the year 2015, in the community of Peabody, Massachusetts, and in accordance with the laws of Moses and Israel, the holy covenant of marriage was entered into between the bride, ’Miss T,’ and the groom, ’Mr. T.’ Surrounded by family and friends, we affirm our commitment to each other as husband and wife. Our dreams and our experiences will now be forever intertwined. We promise to celebrate all of the passages of life together with joy and reverence. In times of happiness we will cherish each other, and in times of trouble we will protect each other. Our home will be a place filled with warmth and light, shared freely with all who dwell there. We willingly enter into this covenant of companionship and love: from this day forward, we are as one.”
The ketubah is traditionally signed prior to the wedding ceremony, but we have chosen to sign ours during the wedding ceremony in order to have all of our guests act as witnesses. It will be displayed during the wedding reception for the guests to get an up close look. As the date gets closer and closer, I can’t wait to sign this thing and make it official!