Folk Ketubah with Local Customs: Argentine Jewish Ketubah Artists

As the world gets smaller — and increasingly modern — the possibilities of getting Ketubot from any corner of the world increasingly abound.

Why not get a Ketubah from a local Jewish artist from another corner of the world — and in doing so support local but talented Jewish designers from all over the world?

A decade ago, this would have been near impossible, for a few reasons, such as: the Internet wasn’t as propagated as it is now, so many Jewish artists in faraway lands, like Argentina, didn’t have reliable Internet access – and even if they did, they didn’t have an easy way to “get the word out” about their services or even get paid internationally. So a decade ago, everyone in New York bought Ketubot from New York artists; in Los Angeles, from Los Angeles artists; in Philadelphia from Philadelphian artists; and so forth.

But perhaps most importantly, until recently, the style of these International Ketubah artists was largely the same: the traditional, Jewish Ketubah style. Whether cheap or expensive; orthodox, conservative or reform; gay, lesbian, interfaith or traditional — the style was always the same: trees and flowers. Sun and desert. Jewish stars and Jewish hands.

But This is not a Ketubah is helping both fronts enter the future. On the one hand, we’re innovating by creating Ketubot that are modern and new, unique and different, cool and (in our opinion) the best around anywhere.

But, on the other hand, we are doing something even more profound: giving access to very talented and up-and-coming Jewish artists, from under-developed countries, access to international markets to promote themselves. Before This is Not a Ketubah, many of these most talented Argentine-Jewish designers had no means or method to show off their work to potential clients or buyers on the other side of the world. This is one reason why This is Not a Ketubah is dedicated to not only supporting Ieladeinu, the Argentine Jewish orphanage, but promoting the works, on the international markets, of the best Argentine and Latino Jewish artists.


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?


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


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.

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