The Ketubbah: What It Reveals About Jewish Life Through the Ages
Hosted By: Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS)
How and when did the ketubbah evolve from a legal marriage contract to a meaningful work of art? And what can we learn about Jewish social customs and economic relations by tracing this journey?
Our study of the ketubbah will lead us from papyrus to parchment to print. We will see how details and variants in the texts reveal a medieval Jewish culture that grappled with slavery, abandonment, and spousal abuse; with the protection of women in divorce and widowhood; and with the preservation of intergenerational wealth. We will explore the emergence of the colorful decorative schemes of ketubbot in early modern Italy and encounter motifs and symbols used in different regions.
The course will feature important examples from ketubbot in the JTS Library collection. It concludes with a (voluntary) research project, where participants will have the opportunity to utilize a comprehensive visual database of ketubbot to explore a marriage contract preserved in their own or family member’s personal archives.
Local residents can also sign up for an in-person tour of the ketubbot in the JTS Special Collections.
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