Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What if I need the ketubah ‘yesterday’? A. Please see ‘Shipping policies’
A ketubah is traditionally a legal document that serves as a marriage contract between a Jewish bride and groom. It was originally created near the end of the 1st century C.E. and used to be one of the more unromantic elements of the wedding, since it served a similar purpose as the modern pre-nuptial agreement.
The first ketubot (plural of “ketubah”) were written in Aramaic -- the technical, legal language of the Talmud – and signed by two male witnesses who attested to the promises made by the groom in the document. The ketubah detailed the manner in which the groom would support his bride during their marriage, as well as what she would receive upon the dissolution of their marriage by death or divorce. Although today, these concepts may strike us as lacking romantic spirit (or being somewhat backward), the ketubah was actually very advanced for its time. It was the Jewish people's recognition of a woman's rights and need for financial protection.
The traditional ketubah text has remained basically unchanged for centuries, and it is the text utilized at Orthodox weddings. The Conservative movement added a clause, known as the Lieberman Clause, to the traditional Aramaic text that requires a husband to grant his wife a religious divorce upon obtaining a civil divorce. (This makes it possible for each party to remarry under Jewish law.)
Today's Reform movement typically does not use the traditional text. Instead, Reform texts reflect the movement's more equal treatment of men and women and incorporate mutual affirmations and promises. Reform texts do not qualify as legal documents but, rather, serve more as a statement of the couple's vows to each other.
The concept of hiddur mitzvah requires that objects used to fulfill a commandment be made as beautifully as possible. The first illuminated ketubah dates to the 10th century C.E. Today, ketubot can be hand-painted works, lithographs, papercuts or giclée prints.
Our available text options:
Translation of Orthodox Aramaic Text:
On the ____ day of the week, the ____ day of the month ____ in the year ____ since the creation of the world, in the city of ____, ____ son of _____ said to this maiden ____ daughter of ____, "Be my wife according to the laws of Moses and Israel, and I will cherish, honor, support and maintain you in accordance with the custom of Jewish husbands who cherish, honor, support and maintain their wives faithfully. And I here present you with the settlement of ________ silver zuzim, which belongs to you, according to the law of Moses and Israel, and I will also give you your food, clothing and necessities, and live with you as husband and wife according to the universal custom." And the maiden _____ consented and became his wife. The trousseau that she brought to him from________, in silver, gold, valuables, clothing, furniture and bedclothes, all this _______, said bridegroom, accepted in the sum of ______silver zuzim, and _____, the bridegroom, agreed to increase this amount from his own property with the sum of ______silver zuzim, making in all _____ silver zuzim. And thus said ____, the bridegroom: "The responsibility of this marriage contract, of this trousseau, and of this additional sum, I take upon myself and my heirs after me, so that they shall be paid from the best part of my property and possessions that I have beneath the whole heaven, that which I now possess or that which I may hereafter acquire. All my property, real and personal, even the shirt from my back, shall be mortgaged to secure the payment of this marriage contract, of this trousseau and the addition made to it, during my lifetime and after my death, from the present day and forever." _____, the bridegroom, has taken upon himself the responsibility of this marriage contract, of the trousseau and of the addition made to it, according to the restrictive usages of all marriage contracts and the adjoins to them made for the daughters of Israel, according to the institutions of our sages of blessed memory. It is not to be regarded as a mere forfeiture without consideration or as a mere formula of a document.
The Conservative text is essentially the same as the Orthodox text and thus is written in Aramaic, a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew and written with Hebrew script. However, the Conservative text sometimes includes an additional provision called the Lieberman Clause. The Lieberman Clause is a codicil that was introduced by the Conservative movement as an added protection for women entering marriage. The Lieberman Clause states the following: "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." Most of the Conservative texts on our site include an English portion, however, the English is not a direct translation of the Aramaic.
Reform texts are written in modern Hebrew and English. Each artist has written his or her own Reform text, so there is a fairly large degree of variation in the wording that appears on different Ketubah designs. In most cases, the English text is an exact translation of the Hebrew.
Although some of our Interfaith texts are English only, most include a Hebrew header. Most artists have written their own Interfaith text, so there is a fairly large degree of variation in the wording that appears on different ketubot. The Interfaith texts make fewer references to the Jewish tradition and are suitable for marriages in which one of the partners is not Jewish.
The Anniversary text is appropriate for those couples celebrating an Anniversary and wishing to commemorate the special event with an equally special document. This text is appropriate for those people who already have a ketubah as well as those who have never had one.
Write Your Own/Blank Text:
This text option was created for those couples who love a particular design but wish to write their own text. The pricing for custom texts varies from artist to artist. See the Custom Texts: Pricing in the Help section or call us for details.
Q. What is ‘Personalization’? A. This is the option to have the artist fill in the blanks through their calligraphy. This pertains to such individual texts as names, date, location and such. Personalization with most of the prints is done in both the Hebrew (Aramaic) and English. Some of the less expensive prints will personalize only the English.
Many of our artists choose this time-tested and widely used method of fine art reproduction for their artwork. Almost all are limited editions. A predetermined number of each design and text are printed. They are printed on beautiful, acid-free art paper of the artists’ choice. The text is written in hand-calligraphy and then reproduced on the lithograph, so the print has the charm of a hand-written document. If you opt to have your ketubah personalized by the artist, they are matching their own calligraphy as they fill in your personal information.
We will be happy to provide you with a proof of the personalizing information sheet exactly as the artist will receive it so you and your rabbi can review it beforehand.
A very popular method of fine art reproduction now used by fine artists in all sectors 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 100% cotton 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 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.
All of the artists who use the giclee method will provide you with a proof of the text prior to printing your ketubah so you will have an opportunity to check it for accuracy.