How do we know what kind of text we need?
Before choosing a text it’s a good idea to consult with your officiant about his or her requirements. Above and beyond the beauty of your chosen ketubah design, the text you choose is the cornerstone of the document. The text represents the type of ceremony you are having, which in turn should correspond to your views about Judaism. Be sure to discuss this with your Rabbi or offiant to ensure you are comfortable with the text that appears on your ketubah. Remember that not all ketubahs offer all texts.
What kind of texts are there?
You can choose from a variety of texts to suit your needs. These include the following:
(Note - not all texts are offered by all artists.)
- Orthodox with no English: The traditional Aramaic or Orthodox text is a legal document written for the bride's protection and outlines the financial responsibility of the groom both in the marriage and in the event of divorce or death. It is the original ketubah text and has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
- Orthodox with English: This text contains the traditional Aramaic, but also includes an English portion. This English text is not a translation, but an addition which outlines the details of the wedding (names, location, date, etc.) in English.
- Conservative with Lieberman Clause with English: Identical to the Orthodox text, this version adds the Lieberman Clause at the end of the Aramaic, which states that the groom promises to give the bride a Jewish divorce (get) if she requests one. Introduced in the 1950’s the Lieberman Clause was an important step in ensuring a man could not refuse to grant his wife a get. In the past, women who did not receive a get from their husbands were not legally divorced in the eyes of the Jewish court and were forbidden to remarry.
- Conservative with Lieberman Clause with no English: Same as above with no English.
- Reform: Written in Modern Hebrew and English this text usually focuses on the love, honour and support the couple agrees to give each other through marriage.
- Alternative Reform: Similar to the above, Alternative Reform texts are written in modern Hebrew and English, with the English text being an exact translation of the Hebrew. These texts are also gender neutral making them appropriate for same-sex marriages or commitment ceremonies.
- Interfaith: These texts are designed to suit interfaith couples and usually talk about love and building a home together that will be respectful of both backgrounds.
- Anniversary: An anniversary ketubah is a great way to honour your parents, grandparents or other special loved one. These texts usually talk about a shared life, and honour years of commitment, love and happiness.
- Sephardic: This is the text required by most wedding officiates who are affiliated with the Sephardic movement.
- French: French text of your choosing. (offered with select ketubahs)
- Toronto Reform: Toronto Reform texts are written in modern Hebrew and English, with the English being an exact translation of the Hebrew. It is the text required by many Reform rabbis in the Toronto area, but can also be used in Reform ceremonies elsewhere.
- Secular Humanistic: This text is required by the Association of Humanistic Rabbis and the Leadership Conference of Secular and Humanistic Jews. It is suitable for a marriage in which one of the partners is not Jewish.
- English vows/non-denominational English only: This text is not affiliated with any specific religion.
- Humanist English vows: In the Humanist tradition, this text focuses on a couple's relationship and the fact that they are making a public announcement of their commitment to be married.
- Commitment vows: These texts are gender neutral and therefore fitting for same-sex marriages or commitment ceremonies.
Can we see the English translations for the Aramaic text and Lieberman Clause?
Below is the English translation of the traditional Aramaic Orthodox text:
On the __________ day of the week, the __________ day of the month of __________, in the year five thousand seven hundred __________, as we reckon time here in ________________, the groom ____________ son of _____________ said to the bride_______________ daughter of _____________, "Be my wife according to the statutes of Moses and Israel. And I will work for, esteem, feed and support you as is the custom of Jewish men who work for, esteem, feed and support their wives faithfully. And I will give you ________________ and I will provide you food and clothing and necessities and your conjugal rights according to accepted custom." And the bride ________________ agreed to become his wife. And this dowry that she brought from her _____________ house, whether in silver, gold, jewelry, clothing, furnishings or bedding, the groom ______________ accepted responsibility for all in the sum of _____________ zuzim, and agreed to add to this amount from his own assets the sum of ______________ zuzim, for a total of _______________ zuzim. The groom ____________ said: "The obligation of this ketubah, this dowry and this additional sum, I accept upon myself and my heirs after me, to be paid from all the best part of all my property that I now possess or may hereafter acquire, real and personal. From this day forward, all my property, even the shirt on my back, shall be mortgaged and liened for the payment of this ketubah, dowry and additional sum, whether during my lifetime or thereafter." The obligation of this ketubah, this dowry and this additional sum, was accepted by ______________ the groom with the strictness established for ketubot and additional sums customary for the daughters of Israel, in accordance with the decrees by our sages, of blessed memory. This ketubah is not to be regarded as a formality or as a perfunctory legal form. We have established the acceptance on the part of ______________ son of ______________ the groom to _______________ daughter of _______________ the bride, of this contract, all of which is stated and specified above, with an article fit for that purpose. And all shall be valid and binding.
Below is the English translation of the Lieberman Clause:
And both together agreed that if this marriage shall ever be dissolved under civil law, then either husband or wife may invoke the authority of the Beth Din of the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America or its duly authorized representatives, to decide what action by either spouse is then appropriate under Jewish matrimonial law; and if either spouse shall fail to honor the demand of the other or to carry out the decision of the Beth Din or its representative, then the other spouse may invoke any and all remedies available in civil law and equity to enforce compliance with the Beth Din's decision and this solemn obligation.
What if I want to write my own text?
Some couples choose to write their own text. If this is something you are interested in doing we offer Hebrew/English translations and custom calligraphy services as well as advice for those who want to write their own ketubah text.
What if the design we like doesn’t come with the text we need?
Not all texts are available with every ketubah design. If you choose a design that doesn’t come with your desired text, please consult with our experts on how best to proceed. Keep in mind that in order to accommodate such an order, cost will vary depending on the artist and method of production.
What if we have our own English wording but don’t know Hebrew? Can you translate?
We are happy to translate your English wording into Hebrew.
How do we send you our custom text?
The easiest way to send us your custom text is to email it to us as a Word document.