The New York Times recently published a fascinating article about an emerging trend in some Christian circles: embracing the Jewish wedding contract.
Called a Ketubah, a Jewish marriage contract traditionally spells out the husband's marital obligations to his wife, though nowadays many ketubot (plural of ketubah) outline the responsibilities of both spouses. The contract is read aloud and signed in front of two witnesses just before the wedding ceremony and is then given to the wife for safe keeping. Although they once were viewed as standard legal documents that were stored away, today Ketubot are often written on fine paper with artwork surrounding the text. As you can see in the example above by artist Judith Joseph, the finished contracts can be stunning works of art. Many couples display their ketubot in their homes.
According to the NYT, the move towards having ketubot - as well as observing other Jewish customs such as having a chuppah (marriage canopy) and keeping kosher - is manifesting primarily among evangelical Christians seeking to embrace the Jewish heritage of Christianity. "Embracing... Jewish tradition just brings a richness that we miss out on sometimes as Christians when we don't know the history," shared Sally Austin, an evangelical Christian who recently married her evangelical husband in a Christian ceremony that included a ketubah. "Jesus was Jewish, and we appreciate his culture, where he came from," she continued.
Professor Jenna Weissman Joselit, a historian at George Washington University, says that this sort of adoption of Jewish custom often starts at the grass-roots level, then grows in popularity. "They have to do with the growing popularity of intermarriage - openness, pluralism, cultural improvisation. And for those who are more religiously literate, they add another level of authenticity or legitimacy."
Image credit: Ketubah by artist Judith Joseph / Ketubah.com