The ketubah text – one document many variations

 

Unlike in the past, today there are several accepted styles for the ketubah text. It is common to find different versions that go according to the various streams of Judaism. More and more couples today decide to compose an additional passage and add it to the original text or even write their own personal text.


Let’s begin with one of the more common styles – the Orthodox style:

 

The Orthodox ketubah text is a legal text document written for the bride’s protection. According to this style, the groom commits to certain financial obligations that assure his wife is taken care of in case their marriage dissolves. The Orthodox version is written in Aramaic, a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew, with Hebrew script. Some Orthodox ketubot are also available with an English section. The English section is not a translation of the Aramaic, it is an addition that describes the circumstances of the wedding (the date, the location, the couples names etc).

Curious to see how it goes? here for the Orthodox ketubah text style (translated into English of course…):

 

Another popular style – the Conservative style

 

The Conservative text style is very similar to the Orthodox style. It is written in Aramaic as well and includes the English addition. However, it includes an addition called the Lieberman Clause. The Lieberman Clause is a codicil that was introduced by the Conservative movement as an additional way to protect women entering the bounds of marriage.

 

It goes like this:

 

“And both together agreed that if this marriage shall ever be dissolved under civil law, then either husband or wife may invoke the authority of the Bet Din of the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America or its duly authorized representatives, to decide what action by either spouse is then appropriate under Jewish matrimonial law; and if either spouse shall fail to honor the demand of the other or to carry out the decision of the Bet Din or its representative, then the other spouse may invoke any and all remedies available in civil law and equity to enforce compliance with the Bet Din’s decision and this solemn obligation.”

 

The Reform style – a bit more varied

 

The Reform ketubah text is written in Modern Hebrew and English. There are several versions of wording to this style, so you may find that different artists may use different wordings in their ketubot designs. In most cases, the English text is an exact translation of the Hebrew.

Alternative Reform style

Alternative Reform text style is written in Modern Hebrew and English as well. It too may appear in different variations of wordings. In most cases, the English text is an exact translation of the Hebrew. The alternative Reform text is gender neutral, thus making it suitable for same gender marriages or commitment ceremonies (a public affirmation of a couple’s commitment to one another). So you see, there are truly a large variety of styles. Coming up are some that are a bit more unique and very interesting…

 

The Sephardic style

 

The Sephardic text style is the one required by most wedding officiates affiliated with the Sephardic movement. This movement follows the customs of the Spanish and Mediterranean Jewry. The style is based on text from the Talmud Yerushalmi and is written entirely in Aramaic. It does not include an English section.

 

The Interfaith style

 

This text style is suited for marriages in which one of the partners is not Jewish, mainly because its text makes fewer references to the Jewish tradition. Most interfaith texts include a Hebrew paragraph, but you may also come across versions that do not. Some artists may even write their own interfaith text, so you may find a fairly large degree of variation in wording that appears on different designs.

 

Secular Humanistic style

 

The Secular Humanistic text is required by the Association of Humanistic Rabbis and the Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews. There are two versions to this text: one is composed only of English, the other is composed of mostly English with some Hebrew. The Hebrew is a direct translation of the English text. Both versions are suited for marriages in which one of the partners in not Jewish.

 

The anniversary text

 

The Anniversary ketubah text is used by couples celebrating their anniversary, wishing to commemorate their special event with an equally special document. This text style is appropriate for couples that have a ketubah from their wedding day, and also for couples that don’t.

 

Commitment Vows

 

The text of the Commitment Vows is written in Modern Hebrew and English. This text is gender neutral making it suitable for same gender marriages or commitment ceremonies. In this case, each artist may write his own text, meaning you may find different wording variations on different designs. In all cases, the English text is an exact translation of the Hebrew.

 

Expressing your individuality – creating your own text!

 

This is an option I find very special, meant for couples who want to write their own ketubah text. If you choose to do so, all you need to do is write your text, choose a design and contact the artist for a price quotation (similar to the process of the custom made ketubot). The pricing of custom texts varies from artist to artist. For further details, please see the Custom Texts Pricing in my Help section or contact me.

 

A tip for choosing the right text – this may come in handy…

 

Before selecting your ketubah text, I strongly recommend consulting with your wedding officiant. Many rabbis, cantors and officiants prefer or require a specific text style. If you’ve already placed your Ketubah text order online or with a craftsman, I recommend you print out a copy and forward it to your wedding officiant for approval. This small pre-wedding task may save you great inconvenience on your wedding day – you will have a 100% guarantee that you have the ketubah text you need.
If you are debating on design and want to see some beautiful options I recommend
please click here.


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