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What is a ketubah?

Ketubah literally means 'written' and is the marriage contract signed and read at Jewish wedding ceremonies. The first ketubot (plural of ketubah) were written in Aramaic which is the technical, legal language of the Talmud. Traditionally, every bride received a ketubah from her groom, a legal document which protected her rights. The ketubah detailed the manner in which the groom would support his bride during their marriage, as well as what she would receive upon the dissolution of their marriage by death or divorce. It was originally created near the end of the 1st century C.E. and it served a similar purpose as the modern pre-nuptial agreement.Although today, these concepts may strike us as lacking romantic spirit (or being somewhat backward), the ketubah was actually very advanced for its time. It was the Jewish people's recognition of a woman's rights and need for financial protection.The ancient ketubah was a major step forward in women's rights. In a world in which women were often viewed as property, Judaism ensured that every bride was accorded dignity and security in the marriage. The ketubah is signed just prior to the wedding ceremony. It requires two Jewish witnesses, unrelated to each other, the bride or groom. The ketubah is read under the chupah (marriage canopy) during the wedding ceremony. Today, the rabbi usually reads the ketubah, although some couples read the ketubah to each other.

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