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What a Ketubah Is and the Significance of the Jewish Wedding Contract

If you're one of the 4.2 million American adults who practices Judaism, you're already blessed with one of the most accepting and loving communities in the nation. If you or a loved one is getting married, though, you know that some blessings transcend even what you thought possible.

However, before the blessing of marriage comes the creation and signing of a ketubah. If you're unsure of what this means, you're in luck! Here we're going to talk all about the Jewish wedding contract, why it's significant, and how you can incorporate it in your wedding.

Read on to ensure that both the bride and groom are as happy and fulfilled as possible.

What Is a Ketubah?

In the most basic terms, a ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract that has been around for thousands of years.

Traditionally, it's used to outline the monetary responsibilities of the groom in relation to the bride. These responsibilities outline what is to happen to the bride financially if the marriage is lost through death or divorce. Orthodox and Conservative ketubahs still use the traditional Aramaic ketubah text. The Conservative text also includes the Lieberman Clause in Aramaic.

For some modern couples, the ketubah does not list monetary responsibilities, but serves as a statement of wedding vows. Reform, Interfaith, Humanistic, and Same-Sex couples often choose a ketubah text that is written as a declaration of love to each other.

You'll want the wedding ketubah to be well-designed and of good quality.

In Jewish homes, a ketubah will often be displayed prominently as a daily reminder of what the couple owes to each other. It serves as a reminder that you are in a holy and sacred union and have responsibilities in that union.

History of the Ketubah

A ketubah is a contract with a long history. In fact, many historians have traced elements of it back to 440 BC!

During this era, a man would need to consent to his daughter's engagement. In giving up his daughter to her new groom, he would face losing a contributing member of his household and therefore need financial compensation. The groom's family would make a mohar (financial agreement) with the bride's family as a result of this.

Over the coming years, the financial obligations outlined in these agreements became nearly impossible for many new grooms to uphold. The bride's families began to give dowries to the groom's as a result of this. It ensured that no family was losing too much money on weddings.

The result of this was the ketubah. It would outline these arrangements in print and make it clear what was to happen financially between the two families after the wedding took place.

Many may say that this sounds like a misogynistic transaction, but in reality, it was anything but. The ketubah is specifically for women's rights and security.

It ensured — and still ensures — that women would have financial rights even if their marriage ended via death or divorce. She would have the rights outlined in the contract and financial means no matter what happened.

Why Is It Still Significant?

You might be wondering why the ketubah still has relevance today. After all, American women have just as many rights in a divorce settlement as men do, and they're usually named next of kin if their husband dies! Is the ketubah just a traditional relic?

The answer to this is a resounding 'no.'

Today, the ketubah's many sections still outline the rights that both parties have in the event of a wedding. Aspects of life outlined on a ketubah include:

  • The date and location of the wedding
  • The bride's and groom's names
  • The names of both party's fathers
  • Financial aspects of the marriage (that serves as a sort of prenup)
  • Other monetary agreements that the groom needs to meet

However, it isn't a contract between the new bride and groom — they don't even need to put their signatures on the document! Instead, it's signed by two witnesses to verify that all the conditions outlined on the ketubah are met by the groom.

There's a prevalent misconception that the ketubah is a transfer of ownership of the bride to the groom, but this isn't the case at all. Even in the most traditional Jewish families, the bride remains her own independent person with her own independent rights. As we said before, the ketubah is meant primarily to protect women.

Essentially, it's a well-designed and comprehensive Jewish prenup!

Texts and Designs

Because a ketubah is so important to a Jewish wedding and serves as a keepsake to the bride and groom, it's important to get a well-designed one.

You can get those that have a gorgeous lover's embrace design or text that's displayed in traditional circular shapes. There are even options where you can get your ketubah printed atop colorful paintings that will serve as works of art around the home!

When you purchase a ketubah, you'll simply need to enter the information that you want to be printed on the agreement. You will want text printed in both English and Hebrew so that you can both read your agreement and have it be traditional and beautiful.

Ready to Get Started?

While there are many aspects to a Jewish wedding, the ketubah is one of the most important. Not only does it have a great deal of tradition behind it, but it also is crucial in ensuring that the bride is secure and protected.

Visit our online shop and browse the many ketubah designs and texts that we have for sale. We also are currently offering special budget ketubahs for couples on a budget so that you have the means to start your life together without any financial worries.

Have an amazing wedding!

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