If you or your partner identify as non-binary, I’m guessing there’s a lot about the wedding planning process that’s…maybe less than ideal. And while I would hope that every wedding vendor is continually taking steps towards the day when all our clients feel affirmed while wedding planning, things can be slow to change.
It was a year ago that I was approached by my first client who identifies as non-binary. They had been looking for a gender-neutral ketubah text that worked for them, and had been coming up short. “No problem!” I thought to myself. “How hard could it be to take one of my texts and make it work for a non-binary client?” It turned out…very hard.
You see, Hebrew is an innately gendered language. Every noun is ascribed a gender, whether that be a person, object or creature. Verb tenses and words such as “each other” also have gender signifiers. This creates a challenging situation for our clients who identify as non-binary and who typically use they/them pronouns when communicating in English. In the past, the Hebrew language has used male pronouns as the default “gender-neutral” option. Which is…maybe not the most comfortable solution if you identify as non-binary?
Thus began a year-long process of looking for a better way to approach this. I spoke with Jewish LGBTQ+ organizations, many different translators, and folks in the LGBTQ+ community who were familiar with Hebrew grammar. And these wonderful folks helped us to come up with a ketubah text that employs a linguistic strategy emerging in the Hebrew-speaking LGBTQ+ community that affirms the identities of our non-binary clients. Yay!
If you’re interested in the details, I’m more than happy to dive in! Recently, the Hebrew-speaking LGBTQ+ community has begun using a plural in both gender forms added to a word to create a gender-neutral variation. When that particular solution doesn’t fit, it is also typical to default to female forms (perhaps in defiance of the assumption that male pronouns should be the default.) And, in instances where neither of those options work, the LGBTQ+ community sometimes alternates between the male and female forms. It’s important to note here that these language patterns are not typically accepted as “correct” grammar. If you are having a Rabbi officiate your wedding, it would be a great idea to loop them into the discussion of how to accurately reflect your two identities in your ketubah text so that the Rabbi isn’t confused by your grammatically non-conforming text.
So, this means that there are two exciting updates here at Ink with Intent. The first is that we now offer a gender-neutral ketubah text among our standard options. It was crafted by the talented Niva Kay and is appropriate for couples in which one or both people identify as non-binary. Yay! The second is that we can now also offer custom translations to our non-binary clients that actually affirm their identities.
Needless-to-say, I’m pretty excited.
One last note. Having this text out in the world and celebrating the full spectrum of identities is important to us. So you’re more than welcome to use it whether or not you want to purchase your ketubah here.
Have a great week, everyone!Read More
The International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism writes a mean ketubah text. I know, because their original ketubah text has consistently been one of the most popular options here at Ink with Intent. That’s why I was so excited to discover that they’ve now released a second ketubah text that is every bit as beautiful as the first. I immediately called them up, and they were kind enough to allow me to offer their lovely text as an option to my clients. Thank you IISHJ for your generosity!
Just like all our texts here at Ink with Intent, this text option is available in three versions: bride-groom, bride-bride and groom-groom. It’s written in Modern Hebrew, although couples often choose to add the ancient biblical phrase “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” to their ketubah as well. You can read the entire English translation of the Secular Humanistic II ketubah text here:
On the __________ day of the month of ______________ in the year ____________ of the Jewish calendar, corresponding to the ________________ day of the month of _____________ in the year ______________ of the secular calendar as recorded in __________________ the beloveds _____________________________ and ____________________________ entered into this Covenant of Marriage. We pledged to nurture, trust, and respect each other throughout our married life together. We shall be open and honest, understanding and accepting, loving and forgiving, and loyal to one another. We promise to work together to build a harmonious relationship of equality. We shall respect each other’s uniqueness and help one another grow to our fullest potential. We will comfort and support each other through life’s sorrows and joys. Together, we shall create a home filled with learning, laughter, and compassion, a home wherein we will honor each other’s cherished family traditions and values. Let us join hands to help build a world filled with peace and love.
You can see all Ink with Intent’s ketubah text options here.Read More
One of my favorite ketubah texts that I offer is my interfaith ketubah text. Why? Because an interfaith marriage is about so much more than just promising to accept each others’ religious backgrounds. A true interfaith marriage is about exploring the best parts of each of your perspectives and weaving a new narrative for your family based on both traditions. It’s challenging and beautiful and each interfaith couple experiences the process in a different way.
That’s the main idea that I wanted to capture when I sat down to write my interfaith ketubah text.
Here’s the interfaith ketubah text in full:
On the ___ day of the month of ___ in the year ___ in ___, ___, ______, (son/daughter) of ______ and ______, and ______, (son/daughter) of ______ and ______, enter into this covenant of marriage as loving companions.
Surrounded by family and friends and witnessed by God, we affirm our commitment to each other. Our lives shall be forever intertwined. Each day we will strive to deepen our relationship, to listen compassionately, and to accept and understand one another. We will unite in our shared values, for they will strengthen us. We will honor our differences, for they will enrich us. Our family will practice customs rooted in the traditions of each of our ancestors. Yet we will leave space in our lives for new customs created from our shared experiences. Our home will be a place of warmth, generosity, and most of all love.
These things we promise each other as we joyfully commit ourselves as husband and wife (husband and husband / wife and wife / loving partners).
Photo by Victoria.Salinas
Lately, I’ve had more than a few couples asking me about how to write their own ketubah text, and I couldn’t be happier.
Why? Because I think more engaged couples should consider this as an option. My husband and I decided to write our own original ketubah text when we were getting married last fall, and it was an extremely meaningful process. Sure, it took a good chunk of time (and a few arguments) to decide just how we wanted to word our wedding promises, but it was so worth it in the end. Now we have a beautiful ketubah text that truly reflects what marriage means to us. Not to mention that the process of writing it gave us the opportunity to discuss some of the hard stuff.
If you and your partner are thinking about writing your own ketubah text, I have a few pieces of advice. I hope you’ll find them useful! We certainly couldn’t have gotten through the process without them. So, without further ado…
How to write your own ketubah text in 6 steps:
1) Put it on the calendar
When we were first getting started, we kept trying to squeeze some writing time in after dinner / before the gym / as soon as this episode of Breaking Bad is over / etc. Here’s the thing. To do this right, you’ll need a good long chunk of time so that you can really get into the discussion. If you feel rushed and distracted, you won’t be able to really put your heart into it.
2) Do some research
Before you sit down to write, each person should do some digging online to see what they like and don’t like in other ketubah texts. My husband and I both spent some time surfing the internet and reading ketubah texts by artists, Rabbis and individuals. If a certain phrase or idea caught our eye, we’d right it down.
When you first sit down together, share the ideas that you’ve each compiled on your own. Then write down anything and everything else that comes to mind. It’s important to remember that there are no bad ideas. If you’re feeling stuck, here are a few questions that you can ask each other to get the conversation going:
• What do we think are the secrets to a happy marriage?
• What does partnership and love look like to us?
• How will we handle obstacles?
• What values will be important in our home?
• How do we want to raise our children?
4) Get organized
After you’ve compiled lists of ideas that are meaningful to you, try organizing them into themed-groups. Can you tell we’re type-A? These will later become the paragraphs of your ketubah text. We found that all our ideas fit into the following themes (though yours might be quite different!): how we will treat each other in our marriage, how we will overcome obstacles, and the values we want for our home together.
5) Start writing
Since you now have an outline of ideas, it’s much easier to start writing your ketubah text! Pick out the most important ideas for each section, and boil them down to a couple simple sentences. You’ll have a full draft in no time.
6) Edit and Simplify
At this point, many people find that their ketubah text is super long. Take a few minutes to remove the unnecessary stuff, and focus in on the most powerful promises you’re making to one another. Give it a final edit for spelling and grammar, and you’re done!
That wasn’t so hard, was it? Most ketubah artists, myself included, are happy to arrange to have your custom text translated into Hebrew. So be sure to ask.
Happy writing!Read More
Many conservative Jewish couples use the original and ancient Ketubah text on their modern ketubahs. I think that it’s absolutely incredible that a text which was written over 2000 years ago is still being used today. Did you know that the traditional text isn’t even in Hebrew? It’s in Aramaic! I find a lot of beauty in continuing the use of this traditional text – it links us to our past, and it reminds us of what a revolutionary document the ketubah was during that time.
That said, in many ways, this ancient text no longer applies to our lives today. It speaks of the transaction of goods as part of the marriage process, which can make some modern couples uncomfortable.
As of this week, I can offer Conservative Jewish couples a beautiful alternative to the traditional Conservative Ketubah text. It was written by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, who has given me permission to offer it as an option here. I love it because it removes the talk of money and transaction, but maintains the solemn feel of the original text. It also includes the Lieberman clause which is a key component to a valid Conservative Ketubah.
What do you think?
Conservative Egalitarian with Lieberman Clause
On the ____ day of the week on the ___ day of the month of ____, in the year _____ after the creation of the world, in the city of ______ in the state of _____, we celebrate that the groom, ____, son of ____ and ____, said to the bride, ____, daughter of ____ and ____, “I wish for you to marry me according to the laws of Moses and Israel, so you will be my friend and my covenanted wife, and I will work, sustain and cherish you as is the way of Jewish men, and I will provide for your food, clothing, and your other needs, and I will have conjugal relations with you.” And then the bride, ____ daughter of ____ and _____, said to the groom, _____, son of ____ and _____, “I wish for you to marry me according to the laws of Moses and Israel, so you will be my friend and my covenanted husband, and I will work, sustain and cherish you as is the way of Jewish women, and I will provide for your food, clothing, and your other needs, and I will have conjugal relations with you.” And if this union should be dissolved in a secular court, or if one of this couple leaves their home with the intention to dissolve the marriage, and they live separately for twelve months, if he sends her a get according to the laws of Moses and Israel, then this betrothal and marriage shall be right and good. If, however, after twelve months he has not sent her a get according to the laws of Moses and Israel, then this betrothal and marriage shall be null and void from the start. And the groom, _____, son of _____ and _____, and the bride, _____, daughter of _____ and _____, accepted upon themselves legal responsibility for this ketubah as weighty as all ketubah contracts which are made according to the ordinances of our Sages of blessed memory.
You can see all my Hebrew and English text options here.Read More
I'm Adriana Saipe, founder of Ink with Intent. I'm a full-time wedding illustrator who specializes in contemporary ketubahs and unique wedding certificates. Learn more.
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