Ketubot--Jewish Marriage Contracts
A modern Ketubah based on a design from Ancona, Italy
To protect the rights of a woman, Jewish men have obligated themselves
to provide both financial support and possessions in a document signed
at the couple's wedding. This document, the Ketubah (plural: Ketubot)
is considered binding in any court of Jewish law, and some civil courts
also recognize its provisions as legally binding.
Because the wife is required to be aware of its location, Jews have
traditionally decorated the contract, transforming it from a dry legal
document into a stunning work of art.
There are variations between Ketubot. Though there is a standard Aramaic
text for use outside Israel and a Hebrew text issued by the Rabbinate for
use in Israel, couples may write their own provisions into the Ketubah.
Some couples choose an egalitarian version, in which both spouses promise
to support each other. Some couples set a higher sum to be awarded the
wife in case of widowhood or divorce. Some include provisions dictating
in which court of Jewish law any divorce proceedings will be arbitrated.
In this, the Ketubah is like a prenuptual agreement--it sets out the obligations
not only for the duration of the marriage but beyond, as well.
Are all Ketubot the same?
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