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Ketubah Jewish marriage contracts began as purely legal documents to protect the woman’s rights, by defining the husband’s duties and the sum of money he would pay if the marriage ended in divorce. Originally the Ketubah was read aloud to the guests at a Jewish wedding and then handed to the bride or her mother to keep safely. Once the Ketubah became a document which was often displayed in the home, the decorative aspect of the Ketubah became more important. Not only to make the mitzvah of marriage more beautiful, but to proudly show off the beauty of the Judaic Ketubah artwork. Today a Ketubah marriage contract is not only used as a Jewish legal document in Orthodox Jewish weddings but also in egalitarian unions, same sex marriages, mixed faith marriages, Athiest marriages and Jewish marriages which do not conform with the Orthodox doctrine. Due to the Ketubah’s broad use in a modern context changes have been made not only in the Ketubah text but also in the Ketubah decorative artwork. Today the decorative artwork of a Ketubah can include any number of symbols, artistic styles, illustrations, colors and designs.
Here are a few of the Ketubah decorative ideas used today for the new modern day union. Couples marrying who already have children whether parented together or with previous partners often include either images of their children or illustrations of the meaning of their names. The Ketubah becomes not only the union of a married couple but the integration of two families, the Ketubah decoration shows the unique blending of the two families joining in harmony as one. Same sex couples can use a Ketubah as a symbol of their union in the sight of God when their marriage is not recognized by the church or Temple. The couple don’t necessarily have to be Jewish and the text can be altered accordingly to suit them. The Ketubah decoration is used to show their chosen lifestyle and their chosen path perhaps introducing the colors of the rainbow flag.
Mixed faith marriages often have trouble finding a minister or Rabbi to marry them but a Ketubah can always be a testimony to their spiritual union. No matter what the two faiths the Ketubah decoration can incorporate symbols of both, perhaps the cross and the star of David or Chinese symbols and Hindu Gods. In many cases the ketubah decoration can illustrate the union of the two faiths better that the text alone can.
Mixed cultures can also be the inspiration for Ketubah decoration bringing together the artistic styles of the husband and wife’s cultures. If the husband comes from an African culture and the wife is Scandinavian then there is no better way of attesting to their blended union than through art that sybolizes and represents the two cultures.
Athiests may still want a symbolic testimony to their union even if not through a church or Temple. Their joining together as life partners can be officiated through a non-religious ceremony and the reading of their Ketubah, which describes their aspirations and commitment. The decoration of their Ketubah can include the elements which inspire them in life; be it nature, creation or the life forms around them.
Other couples may choose to include in their Ketubah decorative images of the things in their life which make them unique, be it their hobbies, talents, careers, home land, free spirit, charitable acts or community service. Thus Ketubah art can encompass anything and everything which represents you and your partner, your mutual beliefs, aspirations, dreams or lifestyle.
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The one thing you do need to take into consideration when choosing your Ketubah decoration is whether your wedding officiant will be willing to read the text you have chosen and hold up the document for all at the ceremony to see. Also consider the fact that it could later be displayed in your home. This means that if your wedding is going to be a religious one, the minister or Rabbi must be asked if the text is acceptable and whether the illustrations befit a religious ceremony. Other than that, let your Ketubah decoration show your love and commitment to a future life together.