A wedding is a time of celebration, with bride and groom publically sharing their commitment to each other. Beyond the traditional ceremony and festivities, one symbol of that commitment is the ketubah
), a Jewish marriage contract. Originally conceived as a legal text, its primary purpose is to outline a groom’s responsibilities to his bride. While the ketubah
has maintained this purpose in modernity, ketubot
have also become important historical documents and meaningful artistic expressions of Jewish life.
The National Library recently launched a newly enhanced website
that presents over 4000 ketubot
from its collection and from significant collections from all over the world.
Collections on the site include those of museums, universities, and personal holdings, including the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, the David Sofer collection in London, and the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Paris.
The value of this website is contained in its powerful search engine and beautiful, full-color presentation of the collection. A basic search will yield examples of ketubot
from places as diverse as Brooklyn and Singapore. Many of the ketubot
utilize the original Aramaic text, but a translation in the vernacular is often included. The text is frequently enclosed in symbolic images including peacocks, a symbol of beauty and majesty, and fish, a symbol of fertility. Many other ketubot
include images of Jerusalem, as a representation of the long-standing hope to return to a rebuilt Jerusalem as the center of the Jewish world. These images also represent the new home that the newlyweds will be building as they start their lives together.
National Library’s invites you to visit its newly designed ketubah
. With the opportunity to explore and research this vast archive on a centralized site, visitors can truly appreciate the ketubah
as a symbol of Jewish continuity spanning continents, ethnicities and communities for over 2500 years.