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The traditional ketubah text is far from a romantic declaration of love and devotion. Rather, it outlines a husband’s obligations to his wife–in largely financial terms. Today, a host of alternative ketubah texts exists and in many cases, couples planning a wedding are able to choose a ketubah text that best reflects their values and their goals for marriage.
Ketubahs that Mention Love
Clergy in the more liberal Jewish movements (Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal) typically use ketubah texts that focus on the spiritual commitments of marriage. There is a lot of variation in the texts that exist, but most outline a couple’s mutual responsibilities to one another, as well as responsibilities to the Jewish people, and to the entire world–without mention of technical and financial legalities. Most of these texts are written in modern Hebrew and English, rather than the traditional Aramaic. For example:
· In Ritualwell’s New Ketubah text, both bride and groom promise to cherish and honor one another; to strive to achieve openness and mutual fulfillment; and to work to perpetuate Judaism and the Jewish people (full text here).
· The Brit Ahuvim, or Lovers’ Covenant, written by Rachel Adler, a prominent Jewish feminist thinker, draws on biblical verses about covenant, calling marriage a covenant of distinction; a covenant of devotion; a covenant of mutual lovingkindness (full text here).
· This egalitarian ketubah text by Rabbi Gordon Tucker of Temple Israel Center, a Conservative synagogue in White Plains, New York, outlines precisely mutual obligations for the groom and bride. Unlike the previously-mentioned texts, this ketubah maintains the legalistic nature of the traditional ketubah and aims to be a halakhic (Jewish legal) document–while omitting all monetary provisions that appear in traditional ketubot (full text here).
Some DIY couples choose to write their own ketubah text. This creative approach–not all that different from the Christian practice of composing wedding vows–can be a meaningful way for a couple to express their personal goals and dreams for their marriage.
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