The earliest known Jewish marriage certificate is dated to the fifth century BCE, to the ancient Egyptian Jewish garrison near Elephantine. This early Jewish marriage certificate detailed the trading of six cows for a fourteen-year-old girl. Demonstrating continuity in the thick of change, Jewish marriage certificates, or Ketubahs, found in later centuries reverberate share similar texts. The ketubah as a Jewish marriage certificate is part of a long-standing ancient tradition that compels a man to sign what amounts to his marriage code of conduct.
A ketubah is essentially a one-sided contract defining several Jewish law requirements of the husband regarding his wife. With the Jewish marriage certificate, the husband agrees to ensure his wife acquires food, clothing and marital relations, and should the marriage end in divorce a predetermined monetary amount is established that the husband will pay. Fundamentally, the ketubah is a safeguard for the wife and gives her protection as well as certain rights within the marriage.
Artistry & Language
Following the Jewish tradition of hiddur mitzvah, whereby a ritual object be made as beautiful as possible, the Jewish marriage certificate has developed into an admired formal form of Jewish art. Exhibiting an array of styles and designs that express the various tastes of different regions and eras across time and the world.
The traditional Jewish marriage certificate was written in Aramaic, the common language used when ketubahs were being institutionalized so that the couple entering the marriage contract understood what they were signing. Nowadays the Jewish marriage certificate is often translated into English, or the familiar language spoken between the couple. Those getting married in a non-Orthodox wedding often opt for the Jewish marriage certificate to be written in Hebrew. Many choose to have both the traditional and a translation of the text included in the ketubah.
Role in Wedding Ceremony
Traditionally the Jewish wedding ceremony begins with the ketubah being signed in front of two witnesses. Then amidst blessings, and a ring ceremony the Jewish marriage certificate is read aloud beneath the chuppah, followed by the remaining seven blessings and then concluding the ceremony with the breaking of a glass. The ketubah is ultimately given to the wife for safekeeping.
Many choose to hang their Jewish marriage certificate prominently in the home, showcasing the intricate and elaborate artwork that the couple chose at the onset of their journey together. A constant, and beautiful, reminder of their special day commemorating their union to one another.
If you and your partner and looking for a beautiful way of expressing this time-honored tradition, check out the vast artistic mastery of Amalya Nini and her impressive talent at creating stunning and memorable ketubahs for you to hang with great joy in your home.