How We Make the Custom Ketubah of Your Dreams

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Each and every custom ketubah we make at Artketubah.com is unique, created one-at-a-time for your wedding. The process is simple yet creative and meaningful.

First, choose a piece of art, a Ketubah Design, that speaks to your hearts. Searching through art and choosing a piece for your home, to represent your marriage, is a process that will teach you about each other and inevitably bring you closer together. Each limited edition ketubah is a gyclee print created from a high quality scan of Nishima’s original artwork. If you are not quite sure about one or more pieces of art, feel free to order a sample. Also keep in mind that any piece that includes a border can be re-designed without the border. Likewise, borders can be added to any piece. Small adjustments to the art are also possible, as are extra hand-worked embellishments such as gold or silver details or leafing, handwritten texts and/or quotes, or 3-D words in Hebrew and/or English on a canvas piece (see examples).

Second, speak to your rabbi and with his/her guidance, choose a text for your ketubah. Orthodox, Conservative and Israeli rabbis will likely be very specific about which Aramaic or Hebrew text they want you to use. Most rabbis of all denominations will allow you to choose your own English text. We do not charge a fee to mix and match texts, so we encourage you to spend time reading and connecting with the texts on this site. If you find an English text you love on another site, or want to write your own, there is only a nominal fee to use these ($35). Please contact the other site for permission, however. (My policy is to share all my texts for free.) We can also use any Hebrew text or help you translate your custom text into Hebrew.

Third, please fill out a personalization form. This form asks you for specific information about your wedding and your names in Hebrew and English. Now is the time to learn each other’s mother’s middle names! Most people use their most formal English names on the ketubah, since this text is traditionally a formal contract. We encourage you to spend time researching everyone’s complete Hebrew names, as your ketubah will be a legacy for the generations. Please let us know if any parent is deceased, as there is a special acronym in Hebrew meaning “of blessed memory”. Ask your fathers if they are Cohen, Levi, or Israel. If they don’t know, they are probably Israel. Cohen or Levi is added to their Hebrew names (Moses the Cohen, Moshe haCohen). You will need to decide how many signature blanks you want on your ketubah. The most common choice is bride, groom, rabbi, and 2 witnesses. However, we can use any configuration for your unique ketubah.

Fourth, you can make some decisions about the presentation of your final ketubah. What size would you like your ketubah to be? Most ketubahs can be printed in three different sizes. (Nishima likes the large sizes, but some people prefer a smaller ketubah.) Which of the offered English and Hebrew fonts would you like your texts to be written in? Do you want your ketubah printed on paper or canvas? Do you want us to stretch and/or frame the canvas? Would you like a quote added? Other embellishments?

Finally, look over the extras to be clear what you need to finalize your ketubah. If your wedding is less than three weeks or even one week away, please pay for a rush order. Shipping is by UPS and can be flat or in a tube, ground, 2nd day, or overnight. Fees are related to current UPS pricing plus shipping supplies. If you want to look over your ketubah design– with your text on the art– before we print, please order a digital proof. This is important if you want to participate in the graphic design of text on art. If you order a quote, the digital proof is included.

Once you order your ketubah and extras, we will put together your personalized texts and email you (and your rabbi) a PDF of the texts, including signature blanks and any quote you might choose. You should look over the texts carefully for any changes or corrections. If you realize a name or date or place needs to be changed, just let us know. Small changes to the wording of your texts are also our courtesy. We will send new proofs until your ketubah texts are exactly correct. Most often we are able to print your ketubah within a week or two of your approval.

Please call us at 888-843-3323 to discuss this process more fully or to answer any of your questions. We have made around 3000 ketubahs and have considerable expertise with texts and working with Rabbis.  We happily take orders by phone, to guide you through the creation of the ketubah of your dreams!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Your Own Ketubah Text

Many couples choose to write their own Ketubah texts.  The process of engaging with the written contract which will be signed at their wedding supports the process of preparing for the challenges of marriage.  For some couples, the custom Ketubah text places them in a unique relationship to the Jewish community and history.  For others, the text addresses their marital choices concerning finances, children, family celebrations, and other practical matters.  Most couples who write their own text explore to some degree their mutual understandings of love and the marital relationship.

At Artketubah, using a custom text on your Ketubah is not expensive: $35 for English only, $125 for Hebrew only, or $135 for both English and Hebrew.  We can also help facilitate the translation of your custom English into Hebrew for a translator fee of $1.25 per word.

Is writing your own Ketubah text permitted?  The answer depends on your beliefs and those of your Rabbi or Officiant. It also depends on whether you want to rewrite the English while leaving the Hebrew/Aramaic as is, or whether you want the Hebrew/Aramaic to match your custom English.  It doesn’t hurt to ask.  Perhaps your Rabbi hearkens back to the early days of ketubahs when each document was written with the individual couple in mind. Or perhaps he/she doesn’t mind what the English says.  The question will, at the very least, open the door to a meaningful conversation about your Ketubah and your relationship to it.

The traditional Ketubah text today is not the legally binding pre-nup that it was for so much of Jewish history. Few couples actually exchange the required Zuzim and Zekukim (ancient coins) that the Orthodox and Conservative Ketubah texts still lay out as the dowry for first time brides, divorcees, widows and converts. If anything, the one contemporary legally binding aspect of the traditional Ketubah text is the one we hope never to use:  The Lieberman Clause, which compels a Jewish man to grant his wife a legal divorce, or get.  Yet some Rabbis still suggest using the Ketubah as it was originally meant: as a legally binding prenuptual agreement.  Rabbi David Stein has authored an e-book entitled “Ketubah Kit for Rabbis, A Reconstructionist Approach” which guides the process of writing a custom Ketubah text.

Writing your own Ketubah text can be similar to writing your wedding vows, and some couples place their vows inside their custom text.  A text that accurately describes your feelings of love and respect for each other, a text that describes the type of life and home you envision creating together– such a Ketubah text can be read out loud every year on your Anniversary (just as your Ketubah is read under the chuppah, the wedding canopy, during your ceremony).  Such a Ketubah is more than beautiful artwork, more than a requirement of Jewish law.  Such a Ketubah is a testament for all time of the Love which brought you together.

 

Mysticism of Marriage

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In six days the Lord made heaven and earth.

What has God been doing since then?

Since creating the earth, God has been arranging Jewish Weddings, writes Rabbi Yossi ben Halaphta.  Not an easy task! In fact, it is written that arranging a Jewish marriage (or any marriage) is as difficult as splitting the Red Sea.

And like the splitting of the Red Sea, a marriage is a break in the otherwise logical fabric of our lives. A couple finds each other, falls in love and throws everyone they know into a turmoil.

For a wedding, old friends often fly in from all over the world, single friends politely endure endless discussions about colors, flowers and table settings, and parents are forced to relive fond memories of their own weddings. Over and over again… sometimes for a whole long year, or longer.

Yet, like the splitting of the Red Sea, a marriage also opens up the possibility of redemption – a taste of the world to come – for everyone: bride, groom, family, and guests.

When two people come together in marriage, it is as if an entire world has been created.

The Zohar, a mystical text in the Jewish tradition, teaches that when a soul is sent down from heaven, it contains both “male” and “female” elements (or you can think about the soul splitting into two halves of the same heart). The male elements enter one baby, the female elements enter another baby. If the two are worthy, God reunites them in marriage.
The coming together of two such souls represents the culmination of endless chance events over countless generations. A Jewish Wedding can be viewed as the work of Divine destiny.

This brings to mind the beautiful image created by the Baal Shem Tov:

“From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single, brighter light goes forth from their united single being.”

Just as the creation of humanity began with Adam and Eve, the marriage of two individuals represents the potential for creating an entire new world.
  
How do two souls become unified under the chuppah?

Traditional Jewish weddings use ritual and symbolism to unify the souls of the bride and groom.

  • Mikvah:  
Prior to their wedding day, Jewish couples may immerse in a Mikvah for purification. This is a type of t’shuvah (repentance), a way to regain perfection before the wedding day. Couples will then typically refrain from any intimate relations from the time of the Mikvah to the wedding day.
  • Fasting:  
Some brides and grooms will fast until the first ceremonial glass of wine. Symbolically, their past life and sins are overcome and they are forgiven – a Jewish wedding is considered a “private Yom Kippur” because a person enters marriage in a state of purity, blamelessness and absolution.
  • Circling:   the bride/groom
At the beginning of the Jewish ceremony, the bride walks in circles around the groom seven times, and in contemporary, egalitarian weddings, the groom will circle the bride as well. According to Jewish mysticism, this symbolic act under the chuppah reflects that each is now entering the seven spheres of his/her beloved’s soul.
  • Wrapping the bride and groom in a Talit:  
as they receive the Sheva B’rachot (the Seven Wedding Blessings), bride and groom are wrapped under a single talit (prayer shawl) so that they become One, together under the chuppah.