How to choose a Ketubah text

How to choose a Ketubah text

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By Aviva Gat

Your Ketubah is the foundation for your marriage so it is important for you to choose the right text. Your Ketubah text should represent what is important to you and your partner.

Today there are multiple different options for Ketubah texts varying from traditional to more modern and cultural. Choose the one that most speaks to your religious identity and values, or create your own custom text.

Here is an overview of the most popular options for a Ketubah text.

Conservative Ketubah text

The Conservative Ketubah text is very similar to the Orthodox Ketubah text, but with one small change commonly called the Lieberman clause. This additional section grants a woman the right to initiate a divorce, rather than just the husband. Talmudic scholar Professor Saul Lieberman proposed this addition, which was accepted by the American Conservative movement in 1953, to allow women to remarry even if their husbands refused to grant them a divorce.

The Conservative Ketubah text is written in Aramaic. Some couples choose to add an English translation.

Reform Ketubah text

There is no official Reform Ketubah text, however, the Canadian Reform movement has a standard text. Reform Ketubah texts are more modern and can focus on different aspects of Jewish culture and tradition. A Reform Ketubah text might emphasize Jewish values, or it may be completely secular and focus only on the couple’s partnership and vows to each other.

Reform Ketubah texts are written in Hebrew, English, or any language the couple chooses. Couples may choose to completely customize the text to best represent their relationship and commitment to each other.

See a Reform Ketubah text here

Egalitarian Ketubah texts

The traditional Ketubah text is very asymmetrical in how it treats men and women. In response, Conservative Rabbi Gordon Tucker composed a new egalitarian Ketubah text that focuses more on equality. This text does not include the section about the “kinyan” which details the bride acquisition.

Rabbi Tucker’s text is based on the Orthodox Ketubah text but strives to equalize the roles of the husband and wife. This is a very popular Ketubah text today and can be in Hebrew, English, or translated to any language of your choice.

Lover’s Covenant

The Lover’s Covenant is a second egalitarian choice written by feminist Rabbi Rachel Adler. This Ketubah text is focused on creating a partnership according to Jewish law. It includes a different version of the “kinyan” in which resources are pooled together and the partnership is acquired by both parties.

This version also includes grammatical provisions so that it can be used by same-sex couples. The Lover’s Covenant Ketubah text can be written in Hebrew, English, or translated into any language.

Interfaith Ketubah texts

Interfaith couples generally choose to create their own Ketubah text to describe their relationship. They may choose a reform or Egalitarian text as the basis for their own version. Interfaith Ketubah texts may focus on love, commitment, partnership, and how the couple sees their future. Some couples promise to honor their differing cultures and outline their vows toward creating a family. The text may or may not mention religion and God.

Orthodox Ketubah texts

Orthodox Ketubah texts are the most traditional. There are several options that you can choose from depending on your culture and where you live. Orthodox Ketubahs are written in Aramaic, which was the vernacular at the time the Ketubah was legislated in Jewish law.

Here is a list of Orthodox Ketubah texts:

  • Rabbinical Council of America: The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)’s Ketubah text is used in North America for Modern Orthodox and Ashkenazi weddings.
  • Rabbinical Council of America Sephardi version: The RCA also offers a Sephardi ketubah text that speaks to American Jews with Sephardic or Mizrahi roots.
  • United Synagogue UK: The Orthodox Rabbinate of the United Kingdom’s version is the most popular in Britain and the UK.
  • Traditional Orthodox: The strictest traditional version of the ancient Aramaic text is used for Sephardic or Haredi weddings.
  • Israeli Rabbinate: In Israel the Ketubah serves as the official marriage certificate. It is a legal document enforceable by the national court system so includes additional clauses. It is only relevant for people in Israel.

Get a more in-depth explanation of an Orthodox Ketubah here

Modern Ketubah text

Today many couples of different religious affiliations are looking for a more modern Ketubah text that does not require customization. The WeddingKetubah.com team has crafted a modern Ketubah text that acknowledges the rich cultural and religious traditions that have been passed down for generations without binding couples to any specific actions or customs.

We use the phrase “according to the laws of Moses and Israel” to honor tradition, while allowing couples to personally interpret what the tradition means to them. This text also includes the famous quote from the Song of Solomon, 6:3, “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine,” which truly exemplifies the importance of love and commitment in Jewish scripture.

WeddingKetubah.com created this text in English, ensuring all Jewish couples can read and understand the Ketubah they sign. It includes a direct Hebrew translation, which begins “As we enter in the holy covenant of marriage” and does not require that any information is filled in. It speaks to all religious affiliations and focuses on partnership and building a loving home.

See the full Modern Ketubah text here

What’s next?

Once you’ve decided which Ketubah text is right for you, you will need to prepare for your Ketubah ceremony. Read these articles to learn more about the next steps:

By Aviva Gat

 Aviva Gat is a journalist, author, and content writer specializing in various topics including religion, culture, health, & technology. She has a B.S. in Journalism and Religion from Boston University and an M.B.A. from Tel Aviv University. 

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