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k’tubah
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Mordechai Pinchas Sofer
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A full orthodox Aramaic k’tubah I designed and wrote for a wedding in Neve Ilan outside Jerusalem using the chupa (canopy) as the motif.

The k’tubah is the marriage contract presented by the bridegroom to the bride as a legal agreement covering his obligations and responsibilities to her.

dove ketubah

The early rabbis instituted it to protect the wife from a husband divorcing her for any reason - even if she burnt the soup! Whilst it is not sacred, it is nonetheless a binding contract which must have certain details concerning the time and date and place of the marriage, reference to the dowry and should be signed by two valid witnesses.

It is usually read out in full at the wedding under the chupa (canopy). The orthodox text is written in Aramaic (see above) whilst a shorter more egalitarian Hebrew text is favoured by the Progressive movements.

Whilst there are masses of rules governing the other scribal documents, there is considerable freedom with k’tubot, as they may be written by anyone (male or female, on any permanent kind of material, parchment, vellum, fine-papers, fabric, glass, stone or wood and do not have to be hand written but can be printed. Moreover they have been a source of Jewish art through the ages as they are generally embellished with designs and motifs and a personalised hand-drawn k’tubah is a much prized possession.

Above is a k’tubah I completed for a 2006 wedding which was written on k’laf to a dove design I had originally used in a siddur for my son’s school that I had designed. It was the first time I had drawn on parchment with a quill - quite a challenge!

I designed this k’tubah for my sister’s wedding using images of Jerusalem.
It uses an amended Reform text in Hebrew.

One key rule is that the text of the k'tubah must be word-perfect without any errors, or breaks in the wrong places. Letters must not touch each-other and must be entirely legible.

jerusalemopt

Therefore whilst a calligrapher may be able to turn their hand to a k’tubah, someone with a working knowledge of Hebrew is preferred. Also, the witnesses must sign one signature above the other like the much stricture Get (divorce document) and not side by side.

Mordechai Pinchas

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