Tag Archives: ketubah

Give Your Ketubah VIPs Time to Track Down their Hebrew Names

Illustrated ketubah
Will the people who sign your marriage ketubah use their English or Hebrew names? It’s worth thinking about before everyone takes pen in hand on your wedding day. If it’s Hebrew, keep in mind that not everyone knows their Hebrew name off hand. They might need to pull out their bar or bat mizvah records or check with someone in the family. They’ll also need their father’s Hebrew name and, in some egalitarian communities, their mother’s name as well. Don’t forget to give your ketubah VIPs the time they might need to track down the info.

Find a lot of great info about signing the ketubah from the author of The Everything Jewish Wedding Book, Rabbi Hyim Shafner, here.

And here’s The Jewish Wedding Ceremony, Step by Step.

(Image: Illustrated ketubah dated pre-1911 from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University {PD-1923} via Wikimedia Commons)

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Same-Sex Marriage, Same-Sex Ketubah

Same-sex wedding ketubah for two brides

Legal hurdles to same-sex marriage are falling across the country, but how do same-sex Jewish couples handle the Jewish legal marriage document, the ketubah, which traditionally lays out a man’s obligations to his wife? I asked Aliza Boyer, a Brooklyn-based ketubah artist whose clients increasingly include same-sex couples. She shares this:

In my experience thus far, same-sex couples gravitate to texts such as Rabbi Gordon Tucker’s Egalitarian Text, Rachel Adler’s Brit Ahuvim text, or any other text wherein the language is inherently more egalitarian, less gender-specific in nature–which in general tends to be more contemporary, less traditional texts. Even to the heterosexual couples I work with who express interest in less gender-specific and/or more egalitarian wording, I always suggest taking a look at the same-sex texts I offer because they are inherently moreso. Also, as far as I’m concerned and in my own practice, any text can be changed to read Bride/Bride or Daughter/Daughter, Groom/Groom or Son/Son, Partner and Partner, or anything else with which a couple–same-sex or otherwise–feels most comfortable. That being said, I do hope that new texts continue to be written especially for same-sex weddings.

A big thanks to Aliza for also sharing the photo above of a ketubah for two brides.

(Photo: Aliza Boyer, Ketubah Graphia)

Free Printable Templates for Tzedakah (Charity) Favor Cards

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The Jewish Wedding Ceremony, Step by Step

The Jewish wedding ceremony is richly layered in centuries of tradition, Jewish law, spiritual teachings, and customs from communities around the world. Here we’ve laid out the basic structure of the traditional Jewish wedding, with some of the most widely-accepted interpretations of the parts of the ceremony. We’ve also included some of the most popular customs and practices that couples have added during the past few decades. If we’ve missed any of your favorite customs or interpretations, feel free to add them in the Comment section.

Greeting the Couple

Traditionally, Jewish wedding celebrations begin with separate receptions for the bride and groom, together called kabalat panim. Many contemporary couples combine the activities of these receptions into one small pre-huppah ceremony attended by only a few family members and friends.

Attending the Bride. At the bride’s reception, referred to in Hebrew as hakhnassat kallah, the bride sits on a specially decorated chair and receives well wishes from her guests.

The Groom’s Table. At the groom’s reception, or chossen’s tish, two traditional documents and one newly-adopted document are signed.

  1. The Tenaim. The traditional formal agreement between the two families that the bride and groom will marry.
  2. The Ketubah. This is the wedding contract. In the most traditional of Jewish weddings, the purpose of the ketubah is for the groom to assume his legal and moral obligations to his wife. The groom and two witnesses sign it. Increasingly, couples choose ketubahs that lay out both partners’ obligations to each other, and both partners sign them.
  3. Prenuptial Agreement. The Prenup is a new agreement, introduced in the 1950s and embraced by a wide spectrum of Jewish communities. It helps ensure that a woman who marries under Jewish law and decides in the future to end the marriage will be able to obtain a divorce under Jewish law. The Conservative movement incorporates this agreement into its standard ketubah through what is called the Lieberman Clause. Modern Orthodox communities generally use a separate prenup form.

Veiling the Bride. Also called bedecken. The groom lowers the veil over the bride’s face. The groom is the person who lowers the veil so that he can make sure that the bride is the person he intends to marry. The practice recalls the Biblical story of Jacob, who was tricked by his father-in-law into marrying the sister of his intended bride.

The Huppah Ceremonies

In a traditional Jewish wedding, the groom puts on a kittel, a white robe, before the festivities move to the huppah. Wearing white, for both the groom and the bride, signifies that for them this day is a new spiritual beginning. The kittel has no pockets, symbolizing that the bride marries the groom for who he is rather than for what he owns. For the same reason, the bride removes her jewelry before the huppah ceremony.

The wedding takes place under a huppah, a canopy that represents the couple’s physical and spiritual home. The huppah is open on all four sides, like the tent of the first Jewish couple, Abraham and Sarah, to associate the couple’s home with the hospitality for which Abraham and Sarah were known. Historically, a bride was escorted from her home to the ceremony while walking under a huppah carried by four huppah-bearers.

The Procession. For a ceremony using a traditional hand-held huppah, the huppah bearers carry the huppah into the ceremony space. Then, as with other modern wedding processions, any special honored guests are escorted to their seats, and the members of the wedding party enter and take their places. The groom is escorted to the huppah by his parents, and the bride is escorted by her parents.

Kiddushin, The Betrothal. When the bride reaches the huppah, she circles the groom seven times, creating the spiritual space that will surround them in marriage. The number of circles can vary. Today, both partners may take turns circling each other to symbolize their mutual obligations to each other. After circling, a bride stands to her groom’s right.

  • Opening Blessings.
  • Blessing for the First Cup. The rabbi recites a blessing over a cup of wine, and the wedding couple each take a sip. Some couples may pass the cup to their parents or other guests for them to sip.
  • The Ring Ceremony. This is the central act of the Jewish wedding ceremony. The groom places the ring on the bride’s right index finger while reciting the following, in Hebrew or his native language: “By this ring you are consecrated to me in accordance with the laws of Moses and Israel.” Today, some brides also give the groom a ring at this time, while reciting a similar statement to that of the groom.
  • Bride’s Acceptance. Two people must witness that the bride accepts the ring willingly.

Reading the Ketubah

Reading the ketubah is not a formal part of the ceremony, but today most couples incorporate it into the ceremony at this point.

Nussuin, Nuptials

The sheva b’rachot, seven blessings, are recited. These prayers place the couple within God’s continuing act of creation and celebrate the many voices of joy that God created in the world, including the voices of the bride and groom.

Breaking the Glass

The groom smashes a glass on the ground with his foot as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Everyone yells “Mazel tov!”

Yichud

The newly married couple spends some time in seclusion — at least eight minutes according to strict interpretations of tradition — breaking their wedding-day fast and sharing their first married moments alone together. The bride puts on the jewelry she took off before the huppah ceremony.

For modern couples who do not have a double ring ceremony under the huppah, this is a good time for the bride to present the groom with his wedding ring.

After the yichud, it’s time to join everyone else at the party!

What do the Jewish bride and groom wear?

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Brown and Green Wedding Details

moss
new-year-challah
Huppah-Ribbons-Detail
Jerusalem tallit brownbrown velvet kippahbrown_green_wedding_colorado Rustic tzedakah place cardGreen-Lady-Slipper-Orchid-Maudiae-150ketubah naomi broudo etsy

A selection of accessories and details for a brown and green wedding, including accessories for a Jewish wedding: challah, a tallit (prayer shawl), kippah (yarmulke), and ketubah (marriage contract).

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