The Modern Ketubah Blog

In this blog I discuss what goes into creating fine art wedding ketubah, as well as ideas about wedding ceremonies and traditions, and answer some of the questions and comments from the couples I've worked with.

How much Hebrew should my ketubah have?

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A question I often get asked is “How much Hebrew should my ketubah have?”. This party depends on the type of ceremony you are having, and partly on your attitude towards the ketubah. If you are having a Conservative or Orthodox ceremony, your Hebrew text is pretty much set. There is a traditional text used for the Orthodox ketubah (often referred to as the “Aramaic text”). Conservative ketubot use that Orthodox text, and add a paragraph called the Lieberman Clause. This is a text added in the 1950s to clarify the rules about divorce. (Sentimental, no?)

If you are having a Reform or an interfaith ceremony, you have many more options. A Reform ketubah just needs to contain the text: “On the ___ day of the ___ month of the year ___ in the community of ___, the groom ___ son of ___ and the bride ___ daughter of ___ were wed according to the laws of Moses and Israel.” Beyond that, you could add anything you want. An interfaith ceremony often includes the same text, just leaving off the part about “according to the laws of Moses and Israel”, since technically speaking, an interfaith ceremony doesn’t adhere to those laws.

Beyond that basic text, a Reform or interfaith couple can add as much Hebrew as they like. Some people prefer to have little to no Hebrew. The idea is that since the ketubah is a contract between the bride and the groom, and they want the language to be something they can read and understand. Other people like to have a balance between the Hebrew and the English. For them, I offer what I call the “Egalitarian Hebrew”. This is a full translation of my Standard English text, creating a ketubah that is truly bilingual.

What ever you choose, I always recommend that you have your rabbi review the proof of your ketubah. Since he is the official signer of the ketubah, its important that he sees and approves what it says.

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