Text Context

The Decorated Contract

From birds to cityscapes, throughout history ketubah art reflects local traditions and contemporary styles.

06/16/2010

 

 

 ‘And here is our ketubah…” 

Displayed proudly and prominently on the wall of a living room or bedroom in many a contemporary couple’s home, the ketubah—the marriage certificate—has become a mainstay of Jewish décor, a proud symbol both of the couple’s Jewish identity and of their bond with one another. And indeed, in modern, egalitarian contexts, the ketubah betokens mutuality and reciprocity.

  Fragments of the earliest surviving illuminated ketubah, Krems Austria, 1392 Vienna, Nationalbibliothek. Reproduced by permiss

Something Old, Something New

Algerian Jewish wedding traditions inspired a one-of-a-kind dress.

06/16/2010

 I had never envisioned my own wedding until I met my husband Isaac four years ago. We wanted to create a wedding that would reflect both Jewish traditions as well as our own personalities. The summer before our wedding we spent three months in France, studying the colonial archives. At the time I was just beginning my dissertation about Jews during the Algerian War for decolonization (1954–1962).

 Norma DiSciullo

Dearly Beloved

On not losing a father, when gaining ‘the one’

06/16/2010

 The weekend before our wedding last year my fiancé Jonathan and I, along with our beaming parents, visited the Long Island vineyard where we would be married. The day was bright, and Jon and I walked with the bouncy gait of the newly engaged. We had chosen the place just days before, and we were eager for our parents to see it — and love it. At 32, I was still bent on getting their approval on most things.

  Young married couple in the Cyprus detention camp spending some free time ‘at home’ in their blanketed-off section of a hut.

Revolutionary Love

When a prominent kohen fell in love with a convert in 1782, newly independent American Jews flouted halacha.

06/16/2010

 The values of the American Revolution—liberty, freedom, and democracy—profoundly affected the Jewish community. Having successfully rebelled against the authority of England and its king, many early American Jews no longer submitted unquestioningly to any authorities, even religious ones. Like their Protestant and Catholic contemporaries, they insisted upon the right to make decisions, including marital decisions, for themselves.

 Ketubah of Jacob I. Cohen and Esther Mordecai.  Courtesy The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

Rabbi For A Day

Officiating at a wedding gives professor a new perspective on matrimony.

06/16/2010

 I have suffered most of my life from a large case of rabbi envy. I was brought up surrounded by them, not only in school and shul, but at family gatherings as well. Uncles and later cousins carried the title. I eventually married the daughter of a rabbi. There was no escaping their sermonizing and officiating ways.

 Bride and groom under the chupah, with the author (not pictured) as rabbi. Photo: Karen Tweedy-Holmes.

Of Love Abundant and Abiding

Toward a Jewish Theology of Marriage

06/16/2010

 In Judaism, the covenant between God and Israel has two aspects to it—a concrete contract, on the one hand, and an infinite set of aspirations, on the other.

  Wedding reception held in Displaced Persons camp Porta Nuova; near Turin, Italy, c. 1948.

The Ultimate Wedding Anthem

Whether read literally or metaphorically, the Song of Songs evokes love in a way few texts can equal.

06/16/2010

 ‘My beloved is mine and I am his…” 

With such soulful beauty does that single line, from the Song of Songs, capture the essence of enduring love that one can almost think of it as an anthem for engagements and weddings. It can be found as border decoration or embellishment in countless ketubot (Jewish wedding contracts) and has provided the text for numerous songs in honor of the bride and groom.

Editor’s Note

06/16/2010

 I  love weddings. I’m always drawn to the back-stories and the abundance of hope. As summer approaches, we thought to take a serious and thoughtful look at the ritual terrain. 

 Photo: Rich Pomerantz Photography

Text Context June 2010: Weddings

Weddings: a new and thoughtful look at the ritual terrain

Staff Writer
06/16/2010
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Solving The Sabbath

Exactly what kind of ‘work’ is forbidden on Shabbat — and why?

05/06/2010

The Sabbath is a puzzle. The Torah, saying almost nothing about Sabbath practice beyond various forms of the command “don’t do work on it,” left it to subsequent generations to make sense of its purposes.

 Seder Tikkunei Shabbat, Vienna, 1724. JTS ms 8269. Courtesy of The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary.
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