“The ketubah is the standard marriage contract that Jewish law requires a groom to provide for his bride on their wedding day. It is intended to protect the woman, primarily by establishing the man’s financial obligations to her in case of divorce or widowhood. Since, historically, the ketubah is read during the marriage ceremony, and thus publicly displayed, a tradition of decorating it evolved in many Jewish communities in different parts of the world. There is no one style that can characterize the art of the ketubah. Different Jewish communities adopted styles and even shapes for their ketubot that were characteristic of their localities and often reflected the artistic traditions of the countries in which they lived.”
1. The Persian Ketubah-1849
“The Jews have been an integral part of the Persian Empire since, at least, the ancient historical and biblical era of Cyrus, who let us practice our religion and rebuild our temple. The Persian Jews have a unique style, visible in everything from their architecture to the style of liturgy that combines thousands of years of Judaism with thousands of years of Persian culture.The Persian Ketubah is a distinctive Ketubah, unlike the ketubot of any other Jewish community, ancient or modern. The Persian Ketubah is in the deep, rich colors, typical of Persian communities while containing the decorative flair and patterns associated with the Persian Jewish community. The metaphorical frame around the deep aquamarine center that holds the Ketubah text is also a common element in traditional Persian Ketubot.”
2. The Bucharest Ketubah
“Jews have been living in Romania since the 16th century; first the Jewish Turkish merchants first settled there, followed by waves of Ashkenazim over the centuries. The Jews of Bucharest have both suffered misfortunes and flourished profoundly at different eras during the last half-millennium in and around Bucharest, Moldovia and Walachia.
The Romanian Jewish tradition of Ketubah art is one of the best of the European and Ashkenazi Jews. The Ketubot of Bucharest often traditionally included references to the twelve tribes of Israel (such as the names and symbols of the 12 tribes aligning the columns of the Bucharest Ketubah) and the blue that is now so powerfully associated with Judaism.”
The Amsterdam Ketubah-1325
“The Jews were prominent in Amsterdam ever since they were expelled from France in 1325 and found refuge with the Dutch. The community grew to its golden years after the expulsion from Spain led many Spanish Jews to find safety in Amsterdam as well. In the Jewish Netherlands, a unique intermingling of the Sephardic and Ashkenazim was born: intermarriage between these groups was common, and, due to the lack of Rabbis, the two often prayed together. Indeed, even in Dutch today, many Yiddish words are common – a testament to the Jewish influence in Holland throughout the centuries.
In the Amsterdam Ketubah, this unique mixture of the Sephardic and Ashkenazim in Amsterdam clearly reveals itself. The elaborate patterns of the Sephardic tradition combine with the reserve of the Ashkenazi tradition, to create a magnificent historical Ketubah.”
The Ljubljana Ketubah
“The Jews of Slovenia have the unique honor of being at the crossroads between the ancient Jews and the medieval then modern Jews. Jews lived in Slovenia in ancient Roman times, and then, in the 6th century of the common era, Jews starting moving to Ljubljana and then Piran and the surrounding towns, where they were the region’s money-lenders. Over time, many of the Jews went on to Poland, Germany and the heart of Europe, but a small community has constantly remained in Ljubljana and Slovenia.
The ancient Ketubot of Ljubljana often included lions, stars, and an ornamental border. The Ljubljana Ketubah is perfect for the couple whose family lives on the crossroads between the old and the new, between the traditional and the modern, between Israel and Europe.”