What is a ketubbah?
The ketubbah (or ketubah) is the traditional Jewish marriage document. Today a ketubbah is one of the prime objects of Jewish artistic expression, and it serves as a permanent and beautiful symbol of mutual commitment and partnership.
Browse Audrey's online selection of ketubbot.
Artists use varying techniques of lithography, hand-painting, hand-lettering, giclee printing, papercutting, and gold-leaf embellishment as decoration.
Audrey's offers a vast array of ketubbah reproductions and limited edition prints. Audrey's staff can also assist you in commissioning an originally designed ketubbah by an artist of your choosing.
Lithography is a printing process in which the image to be printed is rendered on a flat surface, as on sheet zinc or aluminum, and treated to retain ink while the non-image areas are treated to repel ink. The artist then covers the plate with a sheet of paper and runs both through a press under light pressure.
A very popular method of fine art reproduction now used by fine artists in all sectors is called giclee (pronounced jee-clay), a French word, which means "sprayed ink." It is a finely honed technology in which more than four million droplets of ink per second are sprayed onto paper or canvas, capturing the finest nuances of the original painting. Because of the many layers of ink applied to the surface, giclee reproductions "appear" to be painted. Archival, ultra-chrome inks and 100% cotton papers rated to last for 120 years are used in the process.
The benefit to the artist of using this digital process is that he/she no longer has to print an entire edition at once. With the giclee method, each piece is done individually. The text is often written in digital calligraphy, as is the personalization.
Papercut and Lasercut
Papercutting is a traditional folk art form that is found in many cultures. There is Chinese, French, German, Mexican, Polish, Swiss, and Jewish papercutting. Jewish papercutting is many hundreds of years old. It is typically allegorical and illustrates or interprets a quotation or an idea. Many times Jewish papercuts even include calligraphic text. When a ketubbah is lasercut, it is not cut by hand.
Choosing a Ketubbah Text
Most artists offer a variety of texts and in some cases will do custom texts or allow their designs to be purchased blank. Audrey's staff can assist you in choosing your text once you have selected a ketubbah. It is very important that you check with your officiating rabbi or cantor before selecting a text.
The following brief descriptions may help clarify the options:
Orthodox (Traditional Aramaic)
This text was written during the Babylonian exile, with minor variations that occurred through changes in time and place. It delineates the husband's obligations toward his wife as they enter the marital state and was designed to protect the woman's status and property in marriage and in the event of divorce or the husband's death. It is still used by Orthodox and Conservative rabbis, carrying legal clout in contemporary courts of law as a contractual agreement. If you will be using this text, select the artist and then have your rabbi approve that artist's Orthodox text. There are some variations in spellings and your rabbi will want to be sure it fulfills his or her requirements.
Orthodox with English
The English text that accompanies an Othodox text is not a direct translation of the Aramaic. For each ketubbah that you are considering, be sure to note how the English text is worded, as the wording can vary widely between ketubbot.
Conservative with Lieberman Clause
This text is the same as the Orthodox text with the addition of a paragraph called the Lieberman Clause. This is a legally binding agreement stating that, in the event of a civil divorce, the couple agrees to abide by the decision of the Rabbinic Assembly concerning the Jewish divorce. Many Conservative rabbis insist that couples sign this. The purpose is to prevent the get (Jewish divorce) from becoming a bargaining tool against the spouse, which would prevent them from remarrying. For each artwork that you are considering, please have your rabbi review that artist's text. There are some variations in spellings and your rabbi or cantor will want to be sure it fulfills his or her requirements.
Conservative with Lieberman Clause with English
The English text that accompanies the Conservative with Lieberman Clause text is not a direct translation of the Aramaic. For each ketubbah that you are considering, be sure to note how the English text is worded, as the wording can vary widely between ketubbot. Note that sometimes the English vows on ketubbot featuring the Conservative text are significantly shorter than in other ketubbot. This is because the Conservative with Lieberman Clause text is so long that there is less room available for longer, English vows.
This text varies from artist to artist. You should read the text that accompanies each ketubbah that you are considering. They are often beautifully written expressions of love, devotion, and commitment. The Hebrew is a direct translation of the English. Be sure your rabbi or cantor approves your text choice.
Interfaith texts are widely available and wording varies from artist to artist. In some instances there is a complete Hebrew translation of the text. In most cases, there is a Hebrew heading containing the Hebrew date, the place of the marriage and your names, followed by the vows in English. Though most rabbis and cantors will allow you free reign to choose what you like, some require specific wording. Please check with your rabbi or cantor first.
Commitment vows are written to be suitable for same-gender unions and are usually universally appropriate for any commitment or marriage ceremony as well. The wording varies from artist to artist so be sure to read each one that accompanies the artwork you are interested in.
Humanistic texts vary and may or may not mention Jewish culture and tradition. Some have Hebrew and some are all English. It is a secular text in that it omits any reference to God.
Non-Denominational (All Faith)
Non-denominational texts are for couples of any religious background. There are no references to Judaism.
Already-married couples add meaning to their anniversary celebration with a beautiful ketubbah commemorating their years together. Many of our artists offer thoughtful texts that reflect on this event. Some couples prefer to choose the same text that was on their original ketubbah and to fill in the original information. This is a great gift to present to each other or to anyone having an anniversary.