Figuring out the right Ketubah text to use can seem tricky and daunting at first. You might be wondering where to begin. The truth is, there are many ways to choose the right text that is meaningful and a good fit for and your partner.
First and foremost, your Ketubah text will be determined on whether you want it to be orthodox, conservative, humanist, egalitarian, same sex, interfaith or a customized text you write yourself.
If you are looking at conservative or orthodox texts, your choice is limited to the text your rabbi approves. There is a long and ancient tradition that goes back 2000 years with the text essentially unchanged. There are some slight differences in syntax and formatting, but the orthodox and conservative ketubot all essentially contain the same text. You and your rabbi can discuss what will be used.
If you adhere to another stream of Judaism, whether reform or reconstructionist, or if you’re an interfaith couple, you have freedom to choose from a wide variety of texts, some of which are very popular, thus commonly used, and you even have the option to write your own vows.
There are templates found here to get some examples of ketubah texts.
Most couples will want their ketubah to display both Hebrew and English. However, if you’d like if you choose Conservative or Orthodox text, there are certain rules that can make this problematic. Most often, orthodox and conservative ketubahs are in ancient Aramaic only.
If you would like to know what the ketubah text contains, the following sheds some light on the matter:
Orthodox Ketubah text is written in ancient Aramaic, a language similar to Hebrew and written in Hebrew script. Because it is not the same as Hebrew, it can be difficult to read and understand. The Orthodox text has protection for the bride in it, in which the husband will be financially responsible if the marriage is absolved. The orthodox ketubah is a witness document, in which two witnesses attest that the groom makes the required promises to his bride. The bride and groom traditionally do not sign the ketubah. And the rabbi can sign, but as one of the two witnesses, who have to be known in the community to be Shabbat observant.
Conservative Ketubah text is also written Aramaic. The Conservative text is the same as Orthodox, but includes the Lieberman clause, which provides added protection for women.
If you aren’t using Orthodox or conservative ketubah texts, you have the freedom to choose whichever text you want, as well as mix and match. Non-traditional texts are often beautifuly composed, very romantic, and encapsulate the promise the couple makes to one another. Most modern ketubahs are two-way agreements, in which the couple makes a mutual promise, thus it is signed by the bride and groom and also by the witnesses and rabbi. This five signature system is found only in modern, non-traditional ketubot.
Ensure that you review the text you choose with your rabbi or officiant, as sometimes the will have opinions on the matter, a preferred text they use, and in the case of orthodox and conservative rabbis, very strict requirements that must be met, You can always contact me at Papercutsbyoren@gmail.com to ask questions.