The Hipster Ketubah: Cool, Contemporary, Creative, C-Something

The world lacks hipster Ketubot. No longer! We have now brought them to the world.

Of course, we all know that: if you need to say you’re a hipster–then you’re not. So we know that we’re really not hipsters. If we were, after all, then we wouldn’t be sitting here being all nerdy with Ketubot — we’d probably be out at some party in Williamsburg as we speak. The hipster side of Williamsburg, not the Chassidic side (which we actually prefer!), of course.

The Hipster Ketubah is, in our opinion, the style we try to capture: being modern, cool, contemporary, creative and unique — but with enough tradition so that we’re continuing our long history of the Jews.

Above all, the Hipster brings art, modern art, into everything imaginable — and we have brought art to another level within Ketubot. From Klimt to Picasso; whether gay, lesbian, or straight; whether in New York or Los Angeles; whether more fun, or less fun; whether reform, conservative or orthodox — hipster is hipster.

The Hipster, while denying being a hipster, appeals to a particular lifestyle: the modern of the modern. We come from that same tradition. Indeed, I myself used to live in Williamsburg! Ironically enough, I lived on South 3rd street: exactly on the border between the Chassidic and the Hipster sides. Isn’t life funny?


What is a Modern or Contemporary Ketubah?

In what ways is a modern or contemporary Ketubah different than a traditional Ketubah?

We think they should be unique in either one or two ways, depending on how traditional you are.

First, the design: traditional Ketubot are designed beautifully–but not with a modern sensibility in mind. They often have great imagery, but imagery more drawn from the aesthetic tastes of our grandparents, not from us.

Second, the wording. Traditional Ketubot use ancient wording that assumes various roles about currencies, dowries, and other traditions no longer much followed. Do you want to keep the traditional wording, or update it?

We’ve known very happy couples that have done either. Some people like the vestige of the contract our ancestors abode by. Some people want to take the contract very seriously, so they want to update the wording to better reflect our modern currencies and values.

Some couples write their own; some couples use the one their Rabbi gives them; some couples find one that is suited towards their needs, desires, and passions.

In other articles on this site, we’ll address the question of: how seriously should you take the legal contract of the Ketubah? That’s for another day. But for today, our important lesson to remember is, the Ketubah is a powerful tradition and, like all traditions, we must accept it with care and with great responsibility. As Spiderman said: “with great responsibility, comes great power!”. This is one contract that you really don’t want to break!


To Hang or Not To Hang Your Ketubah–That Is The Question

Hanging ketubah

(That is NOT one of our Ketubot – but a traditional one.)

Different Jewish traditions treat Ketubot, after marriage, in different ways.

Some keep it hidden in a safe.

Some prominently display it in the center of the house.

Some keep it in the wife’s parent’s house.

My grandmother still has hers, framed, in the center of her living room; but my parents, I have no idea where theirs is.

How should you decide what to do with your Ketubah? Well, one predominant factor is the culture: Sephardim, for example, tend to keep it out of sight more, while Ashkenazim tend to flaunt it more.

We would suggest that, the decision as to whether to show off the Ketubah or not rests firmly on three criteria:

First, how strong your connection is with the Ashkenazi or the Sephardi tradition. The more traditional Ashkenazi, the more public; the more traditional Sephardi, the more private.

Secondly, how safe is your living space: if your home is secure, then it makes more sense to display it in your home. If you live in a group living situation, or there are often robberies in your area, you might want to protect it to a greater degree.

Third, how artistic is your Ketubah. The more artistic it is, the more it makes sense to display it. It is, of course, part of our hiddur mitzvah tradition to make the Ketubah as beautiful as possible. But not all Ketubot are designed beautifully–although the hiddur mitzvah tradition is not followed by Jews in various parts of Latin America, for example.

Where in your home would you put your Ketubah?


You can use Brands in Privately Commissioned Ketubot – but not ones in the Store!

Running a business always presents interesting intellectual problems. Here is today’s.

So, creating Ketubot by hand creates some interesting Intellectual Property problems.

For example, we recently got a request for an Apple computer themed Ketubah!

As Mac fanatics, we loved this! I almost want one myself :)

Here’s the problem: the Apple logo is a trademark owned by Apple. We can’t use it publicly without getting Apple’s permission and paying them a lot of money.

Guessing Steve Jobs’ response, I wouldn’t be too optimistic.

That said, here’s an interesting compromise: perhaps we can do it privately? If it we create a custom piece of art, that isn’t displayed or used publicly in any way, do we need to get Apple’s permission?

Maybe, maybe not; but it’s ambiguous enough where perhaps we could take the risk! Lets do it!

Team Ketubah


Introduction to Gay Ketubahs

Ketubah for a lesbian glbt queer jewish wedding

Due to Popular Request: We’re putting together an FAQ on Gay Ketubahs! If you’re interested in one and want to see our FAQ, let us know!

How is a Gay Ketubah different from all other Ketubahs?

They are unique on a few levels. First, the grammar and vocabulary must be adjusted slightly to account for the gender difference; the Ketubah assumes a male spouse and a female spouse, while our language must account for two spouses, regardless of sex.

Traditional Ketubahs, furthermore, differentiate between different roles of the male and female spouse; the male’s family will be required to fulfill certain requirements, and the female’s family other requirements. What about the case where there is no such clear differentiation?

Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Ketubahs — what we at This Is Not a Ketubah like to call the “BGL” or “Bagel” Ketubahs — is a new universe. Only over the last years have Rabbis and traditional congregations just begun to accept non-traditional couples. Insofar as we have found, there is no standard Ketubah with the appropriate, modern, wording.

Perhaps we can create it together? Perhaps we can build the future together, a future of openness and accepting — one Ketubah at a time.

By the way, our partner BGL Ketubahs (get it? BGL – Bagel – Bisexual-Gay-Lesbian) specializes in Same-Sex, Gay, Lesbian & LGBT Ketubahs so check them out!


Some Ketubah Comments from Wikipedia

Wikipedia makes two interesting points about Ketubot, which we will explore in more detail later on. I just want to throw them out for everyone to think about. First:

The ketubah is a significant popular form of Jewish ceremonial art. Ketubot have been made in a wide range of designs, usually following the tastes and styles of the era and region in which they are made. Many couples follow the Jewish tradition of hiddur mitzvah which calls for ceremonial objects such as the ketubah to be made as beautiful as possible.

In other words, it is a Mitvah — hiddur mitvah — to design the Ketubah as beautifully as possible. Many of you probably knew this; I didn’t, I will confess.

Secondly, on displaying the Ketubah in the couple’s house, La Wik says:


Ketubot are often hung prominently in the home by the married couple as a daily reminder of their vows and responsibilities to each other.

However, in some communities, the ketubah is either displayed in a very private section of the home or is not displayed at all. Various reasons given for this include the fact that the details specify personal details, prominent display may invite jealousy or fears of the evil eye.

That is to say: the Ketubah is usually displayed in the house, as my parents and Grandparents did–but they are Ashkenazi. But this custom is weaker among the Sephardim, due to their not wanting to publicize the details of the contract. Luckily, few people today read ancient Aramaic.


The Ketubah: With or Without Trees?

The classic Ketubah has a tree in it: the symbol of nature, of vitality, of life–of the Garden that Began it all.

But must it?

The Ketubah, in its essence, must represent the circle of life: not just the man and woman (as in the American tradition); not just the two families uniting (as in the continental European tradition–think of the opening words of Romeo and Juliet!); but in the full Jewish sense, of the evolutionary cycle of life preparing to reach its height–of nature getting ready to recreate itself, once again in Hashem’s image.

This is not a Ketubah creates Ketubot drawing from a wide array of powerful imagery–ancient and modern. The guitar is a symbol of music, of lust and love, of wordless passion, since long before the ancient lyres existed. The circles represent wheels and the most basic human shapes. The optical illusions recall the rainbow, the bright colors after the storm coming together so perfectly.

The Ketubah, in other words, isn’t just art–it is about the continuation of the ancient tradition, about the culmination of the life cycle. It is about the ever-turning wheels of history.

This is precisely why we must hang a beautiful Ketubah on our wall upon marriage: to constantly humble us, to always remind us of our low position in this world. We will return to where we all came from, dust. So we might as well do it in style.


Combining Tradition and Modernity

We have built This is not a Ketubah around a few of our passions and philosophies. In these blog posts, we are going to discuss and explain them to you.

One of our core beliefs–that we’ll discuss briefly today–is: combining traditions and modernity.

We are dedicated to carving out our own niche brining these together in explosive ways.

Many Jews we know are very into our amazing and cherished traditions: our sacred study of the bible, observing the Sabbath, the many fasts, putting on the Tefillin. We do, too. Many Jews we know and we grew up with who follow closely our traditions, in many ways, shun aspects of the modern world: studying in a Yeshiva rather than a secular school, or only socializing with other Jews.

At the other extreme, most Jews we know who accept the modern world, have also lost the essence of their religion: continuing to be “cultural Jews”, appreciating Woody Allen and telling jokes about the overprotective Jewish mother–yet losing our core rituals that hold us together. Most Jewish Woody Allen fans do not observe the Sabbath, we would guess.

But those who don’t follow the tradition–it’s the fault of the tradition, not the individual. The tradition doesn’t speak to them, it hasn’t updated its language to connect with them. Of course they will be lost.

At This is not a Ketubah, part of our vision is to help young Jews, just embarking on married life, to reconnect with their spirituality in a powerful way. Our way to do that is to keep our tradition–and use the same, sacred Wedding Contract that Jews have used for thousands of years–but to create it in a way that young Jews want to engage with!

My grandparents and parents hang their Ketubot on their wall in their house, respectively. But I wouldn’t want to hang theirs: they scare me off, they are not pretty, they are too Jew-y, too nature-y. They don’t fit in with the awesome, modern look of my apartment.

This is not a Ketubah wants to solve precisely that problem: with a Ketubah as fun, modern–yet very high quality art–we create Ketubot that I, myself, want to hang on my wall. The best way, after all, to create a company is to start by creating a product that you, personally, would want to use. And this is precisely how This is not a Ketubah has begun.


This is not a Ketubah — it’s a Web site about a Team that makes Ketubahs!

Welcome to This Is Not a Ketubah.

This is, indeed, not a Ketubah. Nor is this a Pipe.

This is a web site about a team of New York and PorteƱo (someone from Buenos Aires) Jews who love creating fun, modern, awesome Ketubot to celebrate Jewish weddings.

Welcome to our site, and welcome to our world.

If you have any questions, or if you want to join our world, or if you want to learn more about making Ketubot — or about the Jewish world of Buenos Aires! — then come drop us a note. We love talking about Ketubot and Jewish weddings and we have a lot to say!

Morgan, Yael & Team Ketubah


Ketubah Couple Zach & Jess: A Beautiful Family Signing

In a stunningly beautiful wedding taking place at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, Jess and Zach were surrounded by family and friends in a beautiful signing ceremony we wish we could have seen! Led by both a Rabbi and Reverend together, the touching Ketubah signing ceremony made Team Ketubah proud to be part of such a joyous event!

Just wanted to say that Zach and I received the Ketubah last night and we are overjoyed! (It brought a tear to our eyes. :)) It’s really perfect. Thank you and your team for all of your help putting it together”
Jess Gozur & Zach Fass
FassForward Consulting

Rothko-ish Ketubah I

When we first spoke with Jess & Zach, they loved the idea of having a Ketubah at her wedding but she wasn’t sure where to start! After they fell in love with the Rothko-ish Ketubah I, we couldn’t wait to get started on personalizing the text to create something truly special for the wedding day. Mazal Tov!

The wedding was officiated by Rabbi Stuart Paris and Reverend Enid Kessler, who lead beautifully meaningful and personal interfaith ceremonies. Read more about them at Interfaith4You. Thanks to Fred Marcus Photography for the beautiful shots!

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