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.