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The State Of The Art Of The Jewish Marriage Contract

Ketubot past and present, from here to Philadelphia.

T here’s an art to marriage — quite literally so, when it comes to the decorative art of the Jewish marriage contract, known in Hebrew as the ketubah.

And there’s no better way to understand the sumptuous history — and contemporary popularity — of the ketubah than by taking a tour of two rooms, at two different museums, but each one with the same single subject in common: the document that legally and ritually binds bride and groom together according to Jewish law and tradition. Not coincidentally, these rooms also demonstrate another kind of union: The fact that the ketubah itself through the ages has come to wed functional utility (the ketubah’s text clearly lays out the groom’s obligations, financial and otherwise, to the bride, to protect her in case of divorce or widowhood) with creative artistry.

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