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Ketuv

GENERAL:

Q: What is a ketubah?

A: The short answer is a ketubah is a document signed at a Jewish wedding to unite a couple by Jewish law. For the long answer, please see here.

Q: Do I have to have one at my wedding?

A: The ketubah is an integral part of any traditional Jewish ceremony, and if you are being married by a rabbi, he or she will most likely suggest that you have one. Even if you are not being married in a particularly Jewish ceremony, a ketubah is a special way to connect to your family background or tradition. Ultimately, you should consult with your partner, your family members, and your marriage officiant to decide whether or not to incorporate the ketubah into your wedding ceremony.

Q: Why should I care about my ketubah?

A: We thought you might ask that, and so we wrote a blog post about it!

Q: How should we display our ketubah at the wedding?

A: Ketuv ships your ketubah flat (not rolled) in a MasterPak, the height of fine art protective shipping materials. The MasterPak is durable, but not necessarily pretty. Many couples will read the ketubah under the chuppah during their wedding ceremony. Still others will keep the ketubah displayed near their guest book for the duration of the celebration. Whether you plan to prop your ketubah on an easel, lie it flat, or entrust it to a family member to hold, your ketubah should be protected.

Talk to your local framer about options. You may choose to put your ketubah in a mat, or you may choose to frame the ketubah completely, but add the glass at a later date. Whatever you choose, make sure you’re thinking about display options. You’ll want to show your ketubah off (safely) on your wedding day!

Q: Who signs the ketubah?

A: Traditionally, Orthodox ketubahs are signed by two male Jewishly observant witnesses who are not related to the bride or groom. There are no constraints regarding who can sign a non-Orthodox ketubah. Often, the bride and groom will sign their own ketubah, and the rabbi officiating at the wedding will sign as well.

For custom orders, the couple might request more than two spaces for signatures, if they’d like to honor more than two witnesses at the ketubah signing.

Q: Can you recommend a pen for signing the ketubah?

A: We recommend Sakura’s Pigma Micron Pens, but really, any waterproof, acid-free pen will do. This pen and similar ones will be available at your local stationery or art supply store

Q: We are not Jewish, but we love the idea of a ketubah. Is there a ketubah for us?

A: Of course! Modern ketubahs are artistic symbols of a couple’s commitment to one another, and we think that cross-cultural interest in the ketubah tradition speaks to its power and beauty. Many of the texts we offer are secular, and appropriate for non-Jewish couples. We can also build a custom ketubah around your vows, or apply your vows to one of our limited-edition works, for an added fee.

Q: We already have a ketubah/We never got a ketubah but we want one now. Does Ketuv make anniversary ketubahs?

A: Yes! Many of our limited-edition works come with an anniversary text option, perfect for a vow renewal ceremony, or simply a milestone anniversary gift. Please check product information for availability.

Q: Can I give a ketubah as a gift?

A: If the couple is being married in a Jewish ceremony, it is generally not a good idea to give a ketubah as a gift. Because the ketubah plays such a central role in the ceremony, the couple needs to know beforehand that they have a ketubah, and that it reflects their religious and ceremonial needs.

However, there are some circumstances where a ketubah would make a great gift:

  • If the couple has entrusted you to bring the ketubah to the wedding, and you have a solid idea of their aesthetic and their denominational affiliation
  • If the couple is not planning to use a ketubah in the wedding ceremony, and the ketubah is intended only as a commemorative work of art
  • If it is an anniversary ketubah, for your parents, grandparents, children, friends, or partner

In the above circumstances, Ketuv can also issue a “Gift Certificate” in the price of our limited edition prints, so the couple can pick out the ketubah that best speaks to them.

Q: What makes Ketuv’s ketubahs special?

A: We are focused on the aesthetics of the ketubah, because we feel it adds a valuable dimension to your wedding ceremony, and to the ketubah itself—a lasting symbol of your marriage. The artists on Ketuv’s roster have dynamic careers outside the Judaica and commercial spheres. Ketuv carefully chooses its artists and works with them to translate their fine artwork into a unique and beautiful ketubah.

Many ketubah companies print their ketubahs over and over—meaning there may be thousands of couples out there with the same ketubah above their bed. At Ketuv, we believe your ketubah should reflect the uniqueness of your love. That is why we operate more like a boutique, with all of our editions limited to under 50 prints, and the option to work directly with an artist to create a one-of-a-kind work.

Unlike other ketubah companies, which charge a fee to fill in the details of the text, Ketuv will fill in the details of your chosen text completely FREE. We decided to offer free personalization services after meeting with rabbis across the country, who told us they much prefer the text to be filled in.

TEXT:

Q: Where do Ketuv’s texts come from? Are they kosher?

A: The designated Orthodox text and Conservative text are the traditional halachic texts accepted by their respective movements. While these standard texts may vary slightly according to the customs of different sects (Chabad, for example, has its own customs regarding the traditional text), they are largely the same across the board.

Our Egalitarian and Brit Ahuvim texts have been developed with respect to halacha by leading theologists. Our Egalitarian text was developed by Rabbi Gordon Tucker, and you can read his notes on its development here. Our Brit Ahuvim text was developed for same-sex couples by the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement, and based on the work of Dr. Rachel Adler.

The truth is, there is no “standard” accepted text in the Reform movement. In fact, most ketubah companies simply offer original compositions and copyright them (ours are open source!). Our Reform text, Secular-Humanist text, and Interfaith text is based on the traditional Orthodox ketubah text, which establishes who is marrying who, where and when. The body of the text, written by Ketuv, draws heavily from the text created by the Association of Humanistic Rabbis, and is adapted slightly to suit the needs of Reform, Secular and Interfaith couples. The accompanying Hebrew is a direct translation of the English text.

Ketuv suggests that you consult with your rabbi before choosing a ketubah text. Don’t assume that because your rabbi identifies as Conservative or Reform, that they will approve of the so-named texts. Some Conservative rabbis prefer the traditional Orthodox text, some Reform rabbis will prefer the Egalitarian text or the Brit Ahuvim. It’s always best to ask!

Q: Can Ketuv help us choose a text?

A: It is always best to consult with your rabbi before choosing a ketubah text. However, if you are being married by a friend or officiant, or your rabbi is not available to you, Ketuv is qualified to advise you on your text options. Feel free to contact us.

Q: Will my rabbi/officiant know how to fill out the ketubah text?

A: You don’t have to worry about this, because Ketuv will fill in all the details of your ketubah for you, for free.

Q: Can we see a proof of our ketubah before it is printed and shipped?

A: Absolutely! Ketuv does not print anything until the couple and their rabbi/officiant has signed off on it. Upon purchase of a ketubah, Ketuv will send you a fill-in sheet based on the text you selected. Once we receive the details of your wedding (names, dates, location), we will generate a proof which will be sent back to both you and your rabbi/officiant. At this point, you will have an opportunity to make sure your names and the names of your families are spelled correctly, and your rabbi/officiant can make minor changes to the text, based on his/her custom.

Q: What if we’ve decided to change texts after we’ve already received a proof?

A: Ketuv will make minor changes to your chosen text, free of charge. But if you want to change the text entirely once a proof has already been generated, there will be an added fee of $50. Text changes on rush orders (10-14 days) cannot be accommodated. Please remember to consult with your rabbi/officiant or with Ketuv before you choose a ketubah text, to make sure it is right for you.

Q: Can we get another text printed on our limited edition ketubah other than the one that comes with the ketubah?

A: Yes, you can print anything you like on our limited-edition ketubahs, either digitally, or by hand calligraphy, for an additional fee, and as long as the text reasonably corresponds to the available space in the ketubah. We believe that you will get the best results by keeping your total text to approximately 350-400 words or less, but many ketubahs can accommodate larger texts. Please choose “Apply My Text in Digital Calligraphy” at check out and we will email you with instructions for sending your custom text. Your order will not be processed until Ketuv has insured that there is sufficient space available for your text.

Price list:

  • Digitally applied custom text, under 400 words: $100
  • Digitally applied custom text, over 400 words: $150
  • Hand calligraphy: Varies depending on the calligrapher, but will likely be approximately $1.30 per word

Please keep in mind that a custom work can feature any text you like without incurring an additional fee, and is a great option for couples looking to tailor several aspects of a work to suit their particular needs. Also keep in mind that we are willing to make minor changes to standard texts free of charge.

Q: Can we buy a ketubah without text?

A: Yes. If you’d like to fill in the text yourself, any of the limited-edition prints available on the site can be printed without text.

Q: We have an artist friend who we’d like to make our ketubah for us. Can we buy a blank ketubah/text only ketubah?

A: Yes. Ketuv offers a text only or “blank” ketubah in digital calligraphy for $140 plus shipping. This price includes personalization of the text. We print on 13″ x 19″ Museo museum-quality archival paper. We offer circle or square shapes, but all of the text shapes that are currently available on our limited edition prints are also available to you without the image. With Ketuv, you can also customize your font choices as well as your paper texture. If you are interested in a text-only ketubah, please go to the blank ketubah product page and purchase it there.

Q: Can Ketuv provide calligraphy services?

A: We have a selection of calligraphers in our network, and we will take responsibility for commissioning the calligrapher of your choice for your project. Please put a request for hand calligraphy in your order, and we will contact you with samples from several calligraphers. Your order will not be processed until you have chosen a calligrapher for your ketubah.

Q: Can Ketuv fill in the blanks on our ketubah?

A: Yes. Personalization is absolutely free.

Q: What are your text options for same-sex couples?

A: Ketuv offers the Rabbinical Assembly’s Brit Ahuvim text, which was developed specifically for same-sex couples. Our Reform textSecular-Humanist text, and Interfaith text have also been adapted for same-sex couples. Please check availability in the text options for each product. Because Hebrew is an inherently gendered language, couples should let Ketuv know upon purchase of a ketubah if they would like the Hebrew text to use the masculine or feminine forms by choosing the “Two Grooms” or “Two Brides” text options, respectively. For “English Only” texts, same-sex couples should choose the “Gender Neutral” option.

We also have a selection of designs made especially for same-sex couples.

Q: We are an interfaith couple. What kind of ketubah is right for us?

A: From a design standpoint, most of our limited-edition ketubah designs are devoid of religious symbols and therefore appropriate for all couples. However, we recognize that some interfaith couples may prefer designs that feature Jewish symbols, or the more overt Reform and Secular texts. In that regard, we believe that most of our ketubahs are appropriate for interfaith couples who are interested in acknowledging the influence of Judaism in their relationship.

From a textual standpoint, we offer an Interfaith text that omits all references to the Jewish tradition, but if you are being married by a rabbi or are making a commitment to keeping a Jewish home, the Reform text may be right for you.

Please be aware that most of our texts feature Hebrew and English. We will be able to guide you or your partner in finding Hebrew names and the Hebrew date, and we will fill in the text for you for free. However, if you do not want the Hebrew text on your ketubah, there are several “English only” ketubahs in our shop.

Ultimately, it comes down to what makes you most comfortable. Take time with your partner to consider the options and decide what is right for you.

Q: Do original ketubah artworks come with text?

A: We cannot apply digital calligraphy to original works, as the works are too fragile to run through the printer. We sell all original works “as is.” For an added fee, we can enlist one of the calligraphers in our network to apply the text.

EDITION VS CUSTOM:

Q: Why should we consider a custom ketubah as opposed to an editioned ketubah?

A: There are several reasons why a couple would consider a custom ketubah as opposed to a limited edition ketubah:

  • If you would like your ketubah to reflect the narrative of your relationship, or include portraits of you and your partner.
  • If you would like a ketubah that will match your wedding colors or your interior design.
  • If you collect art, and you would like an original work by an artist on our roster.
  • If you see something you like in an artist’s limited edition prints, but you would like specific changes made, or if you see something in particular you like in the artist galleries that isn’t reflected in a limited edition print.
  • If you have a special idea for a ketubah and you think one of our artists can execute it.
  • If you would like a ketubah that is larger than our standard 13” x 19” size.

Q: How should we choose an artist to create our custom ketubah?

A: Go through the galleries on our Artist Pages and make note of the artists and the works that you and your partner like. It is important to write down the names of specific works, so you can refer to them in conversation with the artist. The following step is to fill out a Custom Inquiry Form.

Q: What should we expect in commissioning a custom ketubah?

A: We realize that for many couples, this will be their first experience commissioning a work of art from a professional artist. We are happy to walk customers through the process, and to coach them on what to expect. The first step is to fill out a Custom Inquiry Form, and we will follow-up with an email covering all the ins and outs of the custom process.

If you plan to list a specific artist on your inquiry form, please keep the following in mind: the works in the artist’s gallery are fair representations of what your future ketubah may look like, and what that artist is most likely to do well. Although every artist likes a challenge, it is a risk to commission something from an artist that is wildly different from the work that is in his or her gallery, and we encourage customers to imagine their custom ketubah within a particular artist’s existing aesthetic framework.

EDITION PRODUCTION

Q: What is an edition?

A: The concept of an “edition” emerged because, often, the materials used in printmaking (whether it was wood, copper or zinc plates, or limestones) would deteriorate over the course of production. To make sure that the quality of the print was upheld, artists would often limit the number of prints that they made. The artist would have to approve every print, and confirm that each one was identical to the rest for it to be included in the edition. Inferior prints were traditionally destroyed.

Q: Why does Ketuv edition?

A: Editioning remains a contemporary practice despite the existence of digital technology to ensure consistency and respect for the artistic vision. While many artists and printers re-edition or edition artworks at many different sizes, at Ketuv we limit the production of every artwork to a single run, sized to match the original work, unless otherwise specified. This preserves the integrity of each multiple and the history of the editioning process.

Q: How are your prints produced?

A: We invest significantly in the production of our ketubahs in order to uphold the artist’s vision. Our master printer Michael Courvoisier, of Courvoisier Editions, approaches the process with a deep understanding of the materials and the technology, as well as a perfectionist’s attention to detail. Courvoisier has printed work by leading photographers such as James Nachtwey and David Alan Harvey, and his prints have been exhibited, most recently, at The Getty Museum in Los Angeles and South Korea’s Daegu Photo Biennale.

Prints are produced using the latest archival ink-jet technologies, and each print meets museum standards in fine art printing. Each artwork is carefully matched with a high-quality, archival Museo paper that complements it, and that most closely resembles the paper on which the artist created the original work.

Q: Are your prints archival?

A: Prints are made using archival pigment inks and printed on archival papers to ensure your artwork lasts for many generations to come. Ink-jet prints are in the collections of almost every major museum in the world, and under proper conditions all prints have permanence ratings of 100 + years. This means they will look exactly the same for more than a century. Upon purchase of your ketubah, Ketuv will provide you with information about best practices in caring for your artwork.

Q: Do you provide assurance that the piece is authentic?

A: Yes. Ketuv provides you with a Certificate of Authenticity signed and numbered by the artist. Because production is a collaborative process between the artist, Ketuv, and our master printer Michael Courvoisier, artists do not sign the print directly.

Q: Do prints look exactly like the images we see online?

A: We calibrate our monitors regularly to make sure that every image on screen looks as close as possible to the original artwork. That said, the colors you see on your computer screen depend on a variety of factors that we cannot control remotely, including the type of light in your room as well as the particular color calibration of your computer monitor. The good news is, we’re confident the actual print will look better than what you see on your screen.

Q: What if a print has a printing flaw?

A: Courvoisier Editions is an artisan printer. Each museum-quality print is inspected thoroughly before shipping. If you believe your print is flawed, you must send us an image within 48 hours of receipt.

MISC:

Q: What if we like one of the limited edition prints, but we want to make changes (i.e. minor changes to standard text, or changes to the paper and image size of the ketubah)?

A: When in doubt, ask! Ketuv wants to make you happy, and if we can easily make the changes you would like, we will certainly try to do so.

Q: Can you frame the work for us?

A: Ketuv cannot frame your ketubah for you. However, we will make framing suggestions for displaying the ketubah at your wedding, and hanging it in your home. Also, if you are working on a custom commission with one of our artists, the artist may be able to offer you valuable framing advice directly.

Q: Do artists benefit from sales?

A: Artists receive a large percentage of every sale of a limited edition print, and 70 percent of the revenue from a custom commission. It is a cornerstone of our business model that artists benefit directly and significantly from all sales of limited edition work and custom commissions.

Q: Do you have copyright or creative commons licenses on these prints?

A: Ketuv owns the copyright on all limited edition works, so no one else can reproduce a particular ketubah, and devalue your edition. The artist owns the copyright on all custom commissioned work, but has contractually agreed not to create the same ketubah over again.

SHIPPING AND RETURNS

Q: Why does Ketuv use FedEx?

A: We have chosen FedEx as our shipping partner, as we feel it provides the best combination of cost efficiency and reliability. The tracking system is easy to use and the likelihood of your ketubah being lost or damaged is minimal. All of our ketubahs are shipped FedEx 3-day express, to minimize the likelihood of damage.

Q: I need my ketubah ASAP. How fast can you ship it to me?

A: Turnaround time on a limited edition print is typically 10 business days, but depends on how quickly we can lay out and approve the filled-in ketubah text. The faster you get us the details and the faster you approve them, the faster we can have your ketubah printed and shipped out to you! Custom text or a from-scratch custom ketubah can take anywhere from four to 14 weeks. Order your ketubah early!

Q: Why is the shipping cost slightly higher than typical FedEx shipping charges?

A: You may notice that our shipping fee is slightly higher than FedEx’s standard 3-day express fee as it includes our handling fee. Handling costs cover the packing materials and the labor required to carefully pack and protect your work.

Q: Where should I have my Ketubah shipped?

A: We require an indirect signature upon receipt of a Ketuv ketubah to ensure safe delivery. This means that you don’t have to sign for it personally, but a human being does have to accept the package. If you don’t live in an apartment building with a front desk, and/or if no one is home during delivery hours, we suggest shipping to your work address.

Q: What if I don’t like my ketubah? Can I return it?

A: Unfortunately, your ketubah is non-refundable or exchangeable solely on the basis of a change of heart, so choose wisely.

Q: What if there is a mistake in my ketubah?

A: If there is ample time before the wedding, Ketuv can print and send a new ketubah, without the mistake. If this is a new mistake which was not reflected in the final proof, Ketuv will send a new print free of charge. However, if the mistake was reflected in the final proof and approved by you and your rabbi/officiant, it will cost $80 plus shipping and handling to print and send your new ketubah. Read over your proof thoroughly!

Q: What happens if my limited edition ketubah gets damaged in shipping?

A: We pack our limited edition ketubahs carefully, and ship using FedEx’s 3-day express service, therefore prints rarely get damaged. However, if a print does arrive damaged, it is the customer’s responsibility to send Ketuv images of the damaged artwork and packaging along with a detailed description of what is wrong with the ketubah within 72 hours of receipt. Ideally, the customer should photograph a dented or damaged package before opening the package if they suspect that there is damage to the ketubah. If Ketuv sees potential in a claim, we will, in turn, file an insurance claim with FedEx to cover the return of the damaged artwork (which Ketuv will destroy), as well as the production of a new ketubah, which will be promptly shipped to the customer. You cannot exchange your damaged ketubah for a different ketubah product, but only for a new ketubah from the same limited edition run.

Q: What happens if my custom ketubah gets damaged in shipping?

A: Custom work is not shipped from our printing center, but rather from the home or studio of your commissioned artist. All of our artists have been briefed in the best packing practices and are required to use FedEx Express for shipping. We trust our artists and FedEx to protect your ketubah, but please know that shipping artwork is always a risk.

If your custom work arrives damaged, you must send Ketuv images of the damaged artwork and packaging along with a detailed description of what is wrong with the ketubah within 72 hours of receipt. Ideally, the customer should photograph a dented or damaged package before opening the package if they suspect that there is damage to the ketubah.

If the damage was due to the work not being packed properly, then Ketuv will help you negotiate proper compensation with the artist. If the damage was due to the work not being handled properly by FedEx, we will file a claim with them for compensation. Please note that FedEx does not insure artwork with a value over $1,000, and that is the ceiling of what you can expect to be reimbursed.

Ketuv is currently working to establish relationships with third-party insurance companies. If you would like to engage a third-party insurance company to cover your artwork, we can make recommendations to you.