What is a ketubah?

The modern version of the ketubah document has its roots in the Babylonian exile when the elders felt it was necessary to guarantee women legal rights of property and provision in the event that the husband was no longer present for reasons including divorce, desertion or death. The elders had foresight when they enumerated in the ketubah the groom's obligations to the bride, ensuring that Jewish families would remain intact despite the financial consequences of divorce. With slight revisions that have occurred throughout the centuries, this ketubah contract remains in use today and is referred to as the Traditional Aramaic. The Orthodox community uses this text exclusively and many other rabbis and couples choose it since this text has stood the test of time and is universally accepted. It is also the only Jewish marriage contract text that is recognized as legal in the state of Israel.

In modern times, the divorce rate has unfortunately risen so high that the Conservative movement felt compelled to add another paragraph to the Traditional Aramaic text, referred to as the Lieberman Clause. This states that, in the event of a divorce, the couple agrees to go before the Rabbinic Assembly and abide by their decision regarding the Jewish divorce. If either partner does not comply, they can be taken to a civil court for enforcement of the decree. In essence, the intention was to give the wife a civil remedy if the husband refused to give her a 'get' which is a Jewish divorce, an action that would prevent her from entering into another Jewish marriage in the future.

The Reform, Reconstructionist, Humanist and unaffiliated members of the Jewish community often prefer to choose wording for their marriage vows that they relate to personally. Many beautiful and poetic ketubah texts have been written to express what the couple's hopes and expectations are as partners in marriage. Interfaith and Anniversary ketubot are also readily available as well as alternative texts for same gender unions

The history of illuminated ketubot from the many cities and cultures that Jews have abided in spans the centuries. Though this art form waned when the Jews were persecuted so viciously in Europe, there has been an amazing revival over the last decades. Now, many Judaica artists are inspired to create designs to enhance the ketubah text. Ketubah artwork ranges from very traditional borders to abstract paintings with the ketubah text superimposed over the art. It's great that couples like you today can choose a beautiful ketubah that suits both partners,' tastes and the wedding budget. Your ketubah may be the first work of art that you, as a couple, will select. Though not necessarily a simple task, when you have searched and finally chosen the marriage document that reflects a meeting of the minds, you can be happy and confident in your ability as a couple to accomplish your future goals. So, open your minds to each other's observations and enjoy the journey that will bring you even closer at the end.

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What is a Giclee print?

A very popular method of fine art reproduction used by many artists is called giclee (pronounced jee-clay'), a French word which means sprayed ink. It is a finely honed technology in which more than four million droplets of ink per second are sprayed onto paper or canvas capturing the finest nuances of the original painting. Because of the many layers of ink applied to the surface, giclee reproductions appear to be 'painted'. Archival, ultra-chrome inks and acid-free papers rated to last for 120 years are used.

The benefit to the artist is that they no longer have to print an entire edition at once. With the giclee method each piece is printed individually. The text is usually written in digital calligraphy, as is the personalization if you opt for that, with beautiful results. The lettering styles are selected to complement the artwork.

Most of the artists who use the giclee method will provide a proof of the text prior to printing your ketubah so you will have an opportunity to check it for accuracy before it is completed.

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What is a Lithograph Print?

Many of our artists choose this time-tested method of fine art reproduction for their artwork. Almost all are limited editions. A predetermined number of each design and text are printed and when they are sold out they are no longer available. Lithographs are printed on acid-free art paper of the artists' choice. The text is written in hand-calligraphy and then reproduced as a lithograph so the print has the charm of a hand-written document. If you opt to have your ketubah personalized, the artist will be matching their own calligraphy as they fill in your personal information by hand.

We will provide you with a proof of the personalizing information page, exactly as the artist will receive it, so you and your officiant can review it beforehand. With a lithograph, a full text proof is generally not available. In the rare event of an artist's error in personalizing, the artist will correct/redo the ketubah in time for the wedding.

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Are the colors on my monitor accurate?

The ketubah images on our website are reproductions of the artwork. While colors can vary depending on the settings of your particular monitor, we are very careful to use scans that are high quality and accurate. There may be differences from what you see on your screen to the actual ketubah, though our customers consistently report that the ketubah that they received is even more beautiful than what they saw online.

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Who signs the ketubah?

For Hebrew / English ketubot, it is most common that there are five signature lines for the groom, the bride, two witnesses, and a rabbi or officiant to sign. The Orthodox and Conservative texts generally have two witness signature lines under the Aramaic text. If you would like know what signature lines are on the ketubah that you have chosen, just ask us and we will confirm it for you.

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What kind of pen should we use?

For Hebrew / English ketubot, it is most common that there are five signature lines for the groom, the bride, two witnesses, and a rabbi or officiant to sign. The Orthodox and Conservative texts generally have two witness signature lines under the Aramaic text. If you would like know what signature lines are on the ketubah that you have chosen, just ask us and we will confirm it for you.

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Can signature lines be added?

If you would like different signature lines than what is offered as standard, many times they can be customized so it's definitely worth it to ask us. This is most easily accomplished on giclee prints but is also possible on some lithographs.

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We want to do our own artwork.

So, you, your friend, mother, aunt, cousin is an artist. Lucky for you! We offer a Text Only option that is perfect for this scenario. Do a search under 'Styles' and choose 'Text Only' then click 'Search'. If you have any questions just call us and we'll give you all the details.

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Framing the ketubah for hanging.

Choosing a frame for your ketubah has a lot to do with personal taste. Maybe you like a modern look where someone else would choose an elaborate, traditional frame. We recommend that you take the ketubah to the store and 'try on' some different mat colors and frame styles and see what you like best. Framing is an art in itself so ask the experts how best to enhance your artwork.

You should use glass or plexiglass with UV protection when framing your ketubah.

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Caring for the ketubah.

Your ketubah requires the same care and any fine artwork in your home. Here are some guidelines:

  1. Do not hang your ketubah in direct sunlight.
  2. Incandescent lighting is the optimal lighting for your artwork.
  3. Be sure your hands are clean and dry when handling your ketubah. Handle only at the edges especially before filling in or signing. Oil from your hands can cause the ink to bleed on the paper or absorb improperly.
  4. Use glass or plexiglass with UV protection when framing your ketubah.
  5. Avoid excess humidity to avoid damage from mildew.
  6. Most importantly, enjoy your beautiful ketubah as it hangs in your home. Let it always remind you of the joy of your wedding day and of the commitment you made to each other.

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