June 14, 2021 2 min read 0 Comments

What Is A Ketubah?

The Ketubah is a  document signed by a bride, groom and two witnesses  on their wedding day,  is considered an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage.  It is a legal and binding marriage contract designed to protect the bride. In an Orthodox Ketubah, it is written in the original Aramaic and it lists the groom’s various responsibilities; to provide for his wife with food, shelter and clothing and to be attentive to her emotional needs.  It also states what the husband’s responsibilities are if there would be a divorce or death.

A brief history

The earliest surviving  Ketubah, dates back to 440 B.C.E is written in Aramaic, and for many communities the text has not been changed.   Back in biblical times when a young man wanted to marry someone, the groom’s family would have to pay the brides family what could be considered either a gift (Mohar) or  endowment; a compensation sum as the father of the bride was ‘loosing’ a part of his family.  According to the Talmud Bavli, the Ketubah was enacted by Rabbi Shimon Ben Shetach to deter a man from divorcing his wife- later on we find that the  Rabbis using the Ketubah as a replacement of the biblical mohar. Due to changes through time, it became  socially difficult for young men to raise the funds to pay the Mohar, thus delaying marriage.  The Ketubah enabled these young men to marry and delayed the time the amount would be payable;to be paid in case of divorce and the man would need the full amount stipulated on the Ketubah acting as a disincentive for any husband contemplating divorce.

כתובה מאיספאהן
A ketubah from 1892, isfahan, iran


The Jewish diaspora has spread far, Jewish communities that are traditional Orthodox, to Reform, Conservative and to one Jewish partner at an Interfaith wedding will have one common essential,  traditional factor- The Ketubah. For the Orthodox camp it will be written in Aramaic.  The more modern Ketubahs, the text can be edited to be more personal and meaningful to the couple- in their own language- English, French, Spanish and the list goes on.  Where it be a ketubah for same sex wedding or Interfaith,  the context of the ketubah will reflect the love and bond that the couple share, traditionally, spiritually and future aspirations.  The options are limitless,  from writing your own text to writing your own vows and some may incorporate poetry and song.


" The earliest surviving  Ketubah, dates back to 440 B.C.E is written in Aramaic, and for many communities the text has not been changed"

 Today, many artist offer  the ketubah with personalized textas well as a beautiful custom made design- no better way to memorialize the most special day and to display it as a constant reminder in your home.