1Ms. Awesome, who is now Miss Stripes, posted a little while ago about traditions and whether they are important, and I mentioned that one thing that has come up which is a "tradition" which we would like to do, but that isn't ours to do, is a ketubah. I wrote about this early on in the process because it has always been something that I wanted. And my sister and I had a conversation recently that went something like this:
"You know you're not Jewish, right?" - her
"I'm not planning to get a Jewish ketubah." - me
"You're making light of something that is sacred, and that's offensive." - her
"The ketubah isn't sacred. It's a social and legal contract." - me
"But it's something that Jews do. You're not a jew." - her
"65% of the American male population is circumsized. Nobody seems to find that offensive." - me
It continued to grate at me though. If my Unitarian sister, who married a Jewish guy, was offended that I wanted a ketubah, what the hell would my Orthodox cousins think!?! What would my much-more-Jewish family members think? I didn't want to offend anybody, but at the same time, having a ketubah was important to me. Having taken a Jewish history class, and studied marriage as an institution, I know more about the origins of the ketubah than most of my Jewish friends.
With every tradition related to this wedding, I like to break it down to three parts: "What are the origins?" "Why do I need it?" "Who will be upset if I don't have it?" For example, with bouquets - people used to bathe only once, maybe twice a year. Flowers covered the stench of a bride who hadn't washed herself in months. I shower daily. Therefore I do not need a bouquet. However, it will upset the moms if I don't have it. So I'm sucking it up.
With the ketubah, the origins, you can read about on Wikipedia - and while it's no longer necessary to have a document that spells out the dowery that Mark will give me if he divorces me, I do want to take that time to spell out our commitment, to have our vows written up and on our wall for the rest of our lives. I want our promises down on paper, so we are reminded of them. I want a constant reminder of what I will be giving up if I choose not to work at our marriage. The tradition of "what will I give you in our marriage" still remains, as a promise from both partners. It also will give us that moment on our wedding day, to read over the document and remind ourselves of what we are about to do. Truthfully, I think everybody needs a ketubah.
But how do I have one without offending people? The first step? Remove the hebrew and design our own art. The hebrew has no meaning for me, and we can't read it. (Neither can a lot of Jews, but that is their business.) I'm not signing a legal document in a language I can't read. Designing it on our own also makes it cheaper, so win-win. The second step? This one is harder. Stop calling it a ketubah. I've tried to come up with another term - either marriage contract, or vow art, or something. I need a word that I can say, and then say, "similar to the Jewish Ketubah, the Mvemjsnup is a marriage contract." (2 points to whoever gets that reference.) So brainstorm with me here - what can I call our non-Jewish marriage document? Are you going to have one? And if you're Jewish, am I offending you?