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Sunday, December 21, 2014

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The ketubah: document of devotion, Pt. 2

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If you are looking for inspiration for your own ketubah or just love Judaic art, the very best site to visit is the Ketubot Digitization Project. This Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem has catalogued and made available on the web hundreds of ketubot from around the world, including classical ones from Afghanistan, Morocco, Latin America and Myanmar. [http://bit.ly/ketuba9]

The oldest ketubah on this site dates back to the year 1023 in Eretz Yisrael between the groom Natan HaCohen HaTzefati ben Shlomo and his bride, Rachel. Almost one millennium later, you can see Natan and Rachel’s ketubah online – and dream about their lives. For more about this incredible collection, see the article in Cultivate Interactive magazine. [http://bit.ly/ketuba10]

If you want to possess a truly unique ketubah – and have some artistic flair – then why not create one yourself? I came across a site where the bride’s mother decided to paint one as a wedding gift. She provides step-by-step instructions, along with these words to the faint of heart. “Don’t be afraid to try! If you mess it up, you can always start again (or buy one). And as my daughter pointed out, in this day and age it’s not that much of a trick to have something that’s perfect – computers do it every day. What’s exceptional is to have something made by hand, something personal, something with the quirks, eccentricities, and yes, even mistakes that show it’s made by a human being.” [http://bit.ly/ketuba11]

If you want some inspiration, here are two great places where you will find thousands of ketubot, mostly contemporary. Both Google Images [http://bit.ly/ketuba12] and Flickr will not disappoint. [http://bit.ly/ketuba13]

And here’s a practical piece of advice if you’re planning an out-of-town wedding and will be travelling with your ketubah. Roll it between sheets of acid-free tissue paper and pack it in an extra strong tube. “When you get to the location of your wedding, take your ketubah out of the tube and let it unroll. The paper will keep its curl for a while, but don’t worry. The paper of your ketubah should easily ‘forget’ the curl over time.” [http://bit.ly/ketuba14]

After the wedding is over and you have hung your ketubah on your wall, Anita Diamant says don’t just admire your ketubah, read it regularly. She quotes the Baal Shem Tov, the 18th-century founder of Chassidism who “advised couples to re-read their ketubah whenever they were fighting. It would remind them, he said, of how they felt as brides and grooms, hopeful, smitten, surrounded by good wishes.” [http://bit.ly/ketuba15]

But Diamant says it shouldn’t take a fight to get couples to re-read their ketubah. “It ought to be one of those health-and-safety habits, like checking your smoke detector when you change the clocks for daylight savings. Likewise, on every wedding anniversary, Jewish couples should sit down and read the contract they signed with stars in their eyes… Even the most exquisite ketubah is never simply a work of art. A ketubah always signifies the Jewishness of a love story, a marriage, a home, a family, a past and a future.”

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