One of the most common questions I receive is: How long does it take to make a ketubah? The truth is, you could get one in 30 seconds: just visit your rabbi and he’ll pull a blank form “ketubah” from his desk. Official, yes. But it has more in common with a job application than a symbol of your wedding! To get a ketubah that is a work of art, that takes just a little longer. The ketubah is one part of your wedding you should not choose because “it’s fast”.
When you order one of my ketubot, it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks for you to get it. Why does it take that long? There are a lot of things that need to get done — by me, by you, and by your rabbi. First, if your text has any Hebrew, you’ll need to collect some information, like your Hebrew names, and the Hebrew names of your parents (some people know this off the top of their head, while others need to go digging). Once I get this information, I personalize your English and Hebrew texts, create your ketubah, and send you an email with proofs. You then review the proofs with a fine-toothed comb, making sure everything is correct. You should also ask your rabbi to review the Hebrew (he’s going to sign it, so he needs to make sure everything is ok). Once everything meets your approval, I print and ship your ketubah to you.
Of course if your wedding is coming up fast, just send me an email — if we work together, we may be able to get everything done much faster.
Tracy at Fresh Bride added another nice post about my ketubah designs (thank you!), in which she mentioned was how my designs are well-suited for people who are planning a non-religious ceremony. That’s a great point. When I design my ketubot, I specifically avoid overtly-religious symbols, in favor of more univeral images of flowers and leaves. These images from nature are symbols that can be appreciated by anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs or traditions.
I recently received the nicest emails from a customer of mine:
It’s been almost a year since you’ve heard from us but I had to follow up with you. Recently, Michael and I bought our first home. We both agreed that the first thing we needed to do was hang our beautiful ketubah over the fireplace. It looks amazing and we are so proud of it. Having it there for us to appreciate countless times during the day, everyday, has really made a house our home. Thank you again — we are, obviously, still very happy with our ketubah — thought you should know.
– Melissa and Michael
Comments like these remind me of what I love about making ketubot. Unlike any other form of art, I get the chance to create something that symbolizes one of the most important days in the lives of my customers. And that makes me feel both very humble, and very lucky.
This spring I introduced a new ketubah design, called “African Lily” (click here to see it). The african lily, also know as agapanthus or lily-of-the-nile, is a unique and beautiful flower from South Africa. When I was living in California, we had these growing everywhere. They are a unique and beautiful plant. The main part of the plant is a tight bundle of broad leaves that shoot out of the ground. For most of the year, it looks like this. But then in the spring, long delicate stems grow out of the center, two or three times taller than the main plant. Each of these stems has one bright purple bud on it, that bursts open into one colorful flower. This photograph is of an african lily from my own garden, taken right when the buds were about to bloom. For more information on this plant, visit the agapanthus page on Wikipedia.
I recently got a nice mention on the blog Fresh Bride, in a post called “Ketubahs with Love“. The site is run by ceremony designer Tracy Masington. Her blog offers a wealth of ideas for making your wedding ceremony unique. We traded some emails, and I really enjoyed her creativity, thoughts and inspiration. She’s obviously someone who loves her work. I’m happy to be part of her site.
I was recently interviewed for an article in The Jewish Week about contemporary trends in ketubah designs. Interviews are fun to do because they give you a chance to talk about the motivation behind your work. But they also happen so fast, it’s sometimes hard to make your point. For example, one of my quotes doesn’t exactly exactly capture what I was trying to say. The article says:
But when Sroka looked at a picture he had taken of an old rosebush, he found the relationship symbolism he was looking for. “It was this craggy, ugly, messy thing where the stems were massive and strong,” he said. “With a little bit of care, a little bit of attention, it still thrives and grows… a flower is something that’s temporary; you can’t take it for granted.”
What I really said was that my wife and I saw the ancient rose bush as a perfect symbol for marriage, a combination of strength and beauty. The strength of its ancient branches support and protect the plant, and keeps it alive. Yet in spite of its toughness, you cannot take it for granted. It requires constant attention to reach its full potential and bloom.