i find it so interesting how flexible the word ‘modern’ can be.
a few generations ago it meant stripping down everything to its bare essentials, taking away all the extra ornamentation. it meant simplifying the victorian fussiness down to a new 20th century streamlined vision. think of the difference in architecture between grand central station and the Seagram’s building a few blocks away.
it seems that the ketubah has followed the same path, but then, interestingly, has turned back again and with it the meaning of a modern ketubah has flipped.
the tradition of beautifully decorating the ketubah goes back many centuries, but then was dropped as old fashioned in the mid 20th century. the decoration was unnecessary for a contract.
here is my parents’ ketubah from 1966.
it’s just the text on a piece of paper that went into the safety deposit box or the sock drawer. this was a modern ketubah.
jump to the present: a modern ketubah is a ketubah that is a work of art to be displayed and celebrated. the design itself can look like anything, be modern or traditional, and the function of the ketubah for many people has changed. it’s no longer just a contract, it’s also a celebration of love.
here is the 40th anniversary ketubah that i made for my parents, their modern ketubah. i think that’s fascinating.