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laser cut ketubah

The Art of the Laser Cut Ketubah

Embellished art ketubahs

Historically, the ketubah was a legal Jewish wedding contract that laid out the obligations of a man to his wife. It was also essentially, a prenuptial agreement that was protective of the bride’s financial situation should the marriage end in the death of her husband or in the event of divorce.

The careful and elaborate care, given to the decorated ketubahs, elevated a mundane legal document to a document that clearly shows the Jewish view of marriage as being a sacred covenant between two individuals, sanctified by God.

There is a rich tradition of illuminated Jewish wedding contracts. In fact, beautifully decorated ketubahs are one of the few examples we find in the history of Jewish painted art. Even centuries ago, paper cutting was used to beautify ketubahs. Some scholars suggest that the Jews adopted paper cutting as an art form because of its accessibility.  It required neither a great monetary investment for materials—a simple blade and paper was all that was needed; nor did it require the mastery attained in a guild membership, which Jews were forbidden from entering.

Laser cut ketubahs: An old art using laser technology

Now, with the advent in technology, hand-cut paper cut ketubahs have been overtaken in popularity by the laser cut ketubah.
Today, laser cut ketubahs are far more widespread and even perhaps, more admired.

There is a level of intricacy of detail and sophistication that laser cut ketubah offers that the hand cut ketubah is unable to achieve. The artist can now capture a more natural rhythm and flow of lines, motifs and circuitous contours in the laser cut ketubah than he/she was able to in the past.

A laser cut ketubah may take many months in the design process till the artist satisfies his/her vision. But afterwards when the composition and color have been perfected, the artist may produce a duplicate or a limited series; therefore, making the laser cut ketubah a far more affordable piece than a hand cut paper cut.

Many ketubah artists are incorporating laser cut ketubahs into their repertoire, today. One of the most recognized artists in his field, Danny Azoulay, creates extraordinary laser cut ketubahs His laser cut ketubahs fuse traditional and modern elements, imbuing them with a fresh and contemporary style, as well as, revitalizing a rich, historical Jewish art with new technology that affords countless exciting design possibilities.

Ketubah Signing Rules

Demure by Priceless – Ketubah Signing Rules

The Jewish Wedding: The Ketubah Signing

The Ketubah Signing ceremony may seem like a small detail compared to the overall excitement and ceremony of a Jewish wedding, but it is the ketubah signing that makes the marriage legal and binding according to Jewish law—historically and to the present day.

 

The Orthodox Jewish Ketubah Signing

In Orthodox Jewish weddings, the ketubah signing, traditionally, takes place in a secluded area where the attendees are the Rabbi, the fathers of the bride and groom, male family members and a few close friends. The officiating rabbi will present the ketubah to the groom and two witnesses that the groom has appointed. This special honor is most often reserved for revered friends or teachers. Furthermore, the two witnesses must be male, unrelated to either the bride or the groom and be Sabbath observers. Their names will be on this most important document that will follow the bride and groom for the rest of their lives together.

The content of the ketubah is examined and approved and the ketubah signing now takes place. At this point, the witnesses sign their names and the ketubah is validated. The Rabbi and the groom may, but not necessarily sign the ketubah. Later under the chuppah, the ketubah is read aloud and given to bride (usually the bride’s mother will hold it for safekeeping).

 

Modern Ketubah Signing

Today, Jewish weddings have many different variations to the ketubah signing ceremony. This is determined by prevailing local customs, the community you are part of and, of course, the couple’s preferences. Some observant communities will include the bride and female family members to be present at the ketubah signing– though she will not sign the ketubah.

Many modern Jewish weddings embrace an egalitarian way of looking at the ketubah and the ketubah signing. In these ceremonies, the ketubah is signed by both the bride and groom, the Rabbi or Officiant and two or more witnesses of the couple’s choosing.

Daniel Azoulay is a ketubah artist who has a deep understanding of the significance of this Jewish legal document–which is so very much more than a marriage contract. His beautiful art ketubahs are visual expressions of the sanctity of the love that the bride and groom share and that will continue to grow in the course of their marriage. He provides a wide range of Ketubah text styles to accommodate prevailing Jewish wedding customs.

Jewish Marriage Ketubah

Judaica Stores Are My Wonderland

When I walk into a Judaica store, I feel just as if I were a kid walking into a candy store.

So much to see, so much to look at! I am enchanted by all the colors and shapes of the dreidles, the Chanukah menorahs and the mezuzahs in the Judaica store.  A lot of pieces immediately evoke a wonderful nostalgia in me; suddenly I am back in my grandparents’ homes!  A familiar-looking silver wine cup awakens in me a deep longing to be that child, who I once was, sitting around the Sabbath table, listening to my father recite the Kiddush—the blessing of the wine.

But, my fascination with the Judaica store does not end here with mere nostalgia.  There are so many new and beautiful ritual pieces and Judaic art that didn’t exist years ago: traditional and modern, colorful or monochromatic and elegant or humorous. The Judaica store, today, is filled with Judaic objects made of paper, plastic, wood, ceramic, glass, stone, silver, brass, aluminum –you name the material– it is there.

Another thing that I really admire and enjoy is the innovation that I find in so much of the work that I see in my local Judaica store. Maybe, it intrigues me so because of the memories and associations I have with the more traditional pieces that were part of my childhood. The new Judaic art pieces embraces, acknowledges and gives homage to the old form, but at the same time, it breathes new life into a very traditional art form and renews the ritual object and makes relevant the ritual.

Recently, I was in Jerusalem in the Judaica store/gallery of artist, Danny Azoulay.  Although, I was familiar with his incredibly beautiful paper cut ketubahs, I hadn’t realized that he also makes amazing hand painted ceramic Judaica. There was a perfect combination of traditional and contemporary elements in his pieces for me. I especially loved his colorful dreidles with sterling silver pieces.

Whenever I hit a new city I try to find a Judaica store to explore. It feels little like home and a little like new territory to explore.

JEWISH KETUBAH

The Jewish Ketubah: A Standard Contract

While it might be thought of as a standard or technical contract, the Jewish ketubah can be a beautiful way to commemorate and celebrate the new couple’s commitment in a highly personal way. Thanks to the large variety of text options and designs available today, there is the right Jewish Ketubah out there for every Jewish couple.

The Jewish Ketubah: A Beautified Tradition

Historically, Jewish art has been predominantly about making objects of ritual significance and beautifying them (hidur mitzvot). From masterly-crafted wine cups to mezuzahs on doorposts, to illuminated Passover haggadahs and—yes—to Jewish ketubahs. Artists painted religiously-inspired symbols and motifs, as well as, biblical scenes and verses to create complex and breathtaking masterpieces.

A quick Google search will show you ornately-detailed Jewish ketubahs from Middle Eastern and European communities that went way beyond their function as a legal religious marriage contract. Although, rooted in Jewish law and belief, these Jewish ketubahs also reflected the artistic sensibilities of the family. The Jewish Ketubah, then and now, is a product of Jewish legal requirements, traditions and an aesthetic that is, often, determinant of its time and the artistic sensibilities that are/were prevalent in the region in which it was produced.  Yes, just like modern day couples, the couples back then wanted to be able to connect emotionally with the very document that gives the legal basis for their new life together.

Finding the Right Jewish Ketubah for You

As two people preparing for your wedding day, a lot of your time will be spent in planning a wedding that accommodates your families and other important people in your lives. The wonderful thing about choosing your Jewish Ketubah is that you can take a break from all that and focus on what you, as a couple, want to hold on to for the rest of your marriage.

When it comes to the Ketubah texts, you can choose from the traditional Aramaic to more modern Hebrew or any other language you understand best. There are even options to feature a combination of the original text along with a translation. If the wording of the traditional text is not for you, there are many different texts to choose from as well.

And, there are many different Jewish ketubah design styles available. From a biblical verse or a meaningful phrase you’d like to feature, to the materials and colors used– you and your loved one can find a ketubah that truly reflects your relationship and your aesthetic taste.

Danny Azoulay is an artist who creates breathtaking Jewish ketubahs. He offers text and style options that speak to a wide variety of modern Jewish couples, seamlessly displayed in flawless designs. Using the paper cut method, and incorporating gold and silver leaf with highly saturated touches of color, you can find a Jewish ketubah that celebrates your style and your new life together.

Mazal tov!

VIEWS ON JEWISH MARRIAGE

Views on Jewish Marriage

Three things have a faint savor of the world to come: Sabbath, the sun and married love.  (Talmud, Berakhot)

Jewish marriage is viewed as the cornerstone of the perpetuation of the Jewish people.  The Bible–from Genesis on–devotes many of its words to the relation of a man and his wife and vice a versa.  Careful thought, discussion and commentary dedicated to the centricity and the sanctity of the Jewish marriage has preoccupied Talmudic scholars from the time of the sages to the present.

A quintessential view of Jewish marriage is that a wife and husband complete each other: that two halves become one; “Husband and wife are like one flesh “(Talmud: Menahot 93b).  Or, with a slightly different math, in Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one”.  The mystical Zohar (I 91a) describes “.

The Jewish marriage is, of course, important for the fulfillment of the first mitzvah of the Torah (Genesis 2:31) To be fruitful and multiply…  But, love and companionship are the true building blocks of Jewish marriage. The bride and bridegroom are referred to as reim ahuvim, or beloved friends.

The sanctity of Jewish marriage is carried over to the importance placed on the Jewish marriage ceremony. In the past the Erusin (betrothal) and Kiddushin (sanctification) ceremonies were separated in time, but today, they take place sequentially at the wedding.  This includes the signing of the ketubah, the Bedeken (lowering the bride’s veil over her face), the exchange of a ring, the recital of the seven blessings and smashing the glass under the chuppah. Afterwards, the bride and groom will have a few moments to themselves in the Yihud (seclusion). This concludes the Jewish marriage ceremony and the party begins!  And so does the Jewish marriage!

Mazel Tov.

KETUBAH DESIGN

Ketubah Design: How to Choose?

Ketubah Design is a Traditional Jewish Art

A Ketubah (literally meaning “it is written”) is a legal Jewish marriage contract.  Historically, the ketubah delineated the responsibilities of the groom towards his future wife and served as a legal guarantee that the groom would provide adequate financial support for his wife in the case of a divorce or death.  What is so very interesting about the ketubah, is that this legal document was decorated and ornamented with great artistic care and thought. Through the centuries, ketubah design has proven to be one of the most prevalent artistic expressions of Jewish art.

Ketubah Design Today

These days, the modern Ketubah is less of a prenuptial agreement and more of a proclamation of the new couple’s commitment to each other, to their love and to their union. Couples can choose from Orthodox, Conservative,
or Reform texts, but also may make changes to contemporize and personalize the texts in the ketubah design.
Today–as was in the past–a great deal of attention is given to the artistic side of the ketubah design.
There is an abundance of choice in ketubah design offered by super-talented artists. There are modern and traditional: Eastern and Western-oriented themes; Some abstract and some illustrative: some evocative and others with traditional symbolic elements. In the past, architectural elements (signifying the building of a Jewish home) or biblical scenes were very often depicted.  Today the tree, rich in symbolism and meaning is a popular motif.

Choosing a ketubah design is a significant decision for most couples, as it is rarely just an aesthetic decision, but often a visual expression of the love they feel. After the ceremony, the newlyweds usually frame and proudly display their ketubahs in their home.

Which Ketubah Design fits You

Ketubahs come in a variety of shapes, colors and techniques: There are hand painted, printed and delicate paper cut ketubahs. Danny Azoulay is a well-known artist who specializes in paper-cut ketubahs that are the fruit of an inspired and creative sense of design. He applies his particularly fresh vision to the traditional elements of ketubah design

WHAT IS A KETUBAH

What is a Ketubah? 6 Things Worth Knowing

What Is A Ketubah And What Is The Meaning Of The Word

The word, ketubah, literally means “what is written” and is a Jewish wedding contract. The oldest existing ketubah dates back to the 4th century BC and was found in Cairo, Egypt.

What is a ketubah, traditionally?

The ketubah was a legal wedding document that delineated the obligations of the groom to his bride. What a ketubah included, as well, was the actual settlement that would be awarded to her in the case of divorce or the death of her husband. Ketubahs from a variety of regions and even from different eras were pretty much similar in content and form.

What is a ketubah’s content today?

Today, a ketubah can be quite diverse depending on the sort of Jewish ceremony you are having. The Orthodox ketubah still conforms with the traditional ketubahs of the past, while Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative ketubahs are marriage contracts with the addition of the couple’s wedding vows: a mutual proclamation of the couple’s vision of their commitment and their shared aspirations.

When does the signing of the ketubah take place?

Traditionally, the ketubah is signed by two witnesses (male, orthodox and unrelated to the couple) — just prior to the nuptials.  Today, the non-orthodox couples will sign the ketubah, as will the rabbi/officiant and witnesses of the couple’s choosing.

Later, under the chuppah, the rabbi/officiant will often read the ketubah aloud- in front of all the celebrants.

What is a ketubah’s language?

Once again, what is a ketubah’s language is entirely dependent on what kind of ceremony is performed. The traditional ketubahs are still today written in Aramaic (as they were in the Talmudic period), while Hebrew and/or English, French, Italian and Spanish are frequently utilized.

What is an art ketubah?

Examples of painted and illuminated ketubahs have been found dating from as early as the Middle Ages. It became particularly popular with the Sephardic Jews. What is a ketubah– in the past and in the present- is most definitely a binding legal document; But what makes this legal document so unique is the fact that it was, and still is, lavished with careful artistry, symbolism and ornamental details that represent the couple’s taste. Many artists, today–including Danny Azoulay, a well-known paper cut ketubah artist– continue to create beautiful art ketubahs that continue to express the sanctity and beauty of the Jewish wedding and the couple’s union.

JEWISH WEDDING TRADITIONS

5 JEWISH WEDDING TRADITIONS WORTHWHILE KNOWING

So, you’re getting married. The invitations, the guests, the band, the flowers and everything else are ready.
And now for the Jewish wedding traditions…

A traditional Jewish wedding is chock full of rituals. These Jewish wedding traditions are meaningful and celebrate the most momentous day in the lives of the new couple and the building of a Jewish home. A lot of these rituals date back to ancient times. Here are some tips how to combine Jewish wedding traditions with more modernity.

THE KETUBAH

The ketubah is a Jewish wedding contract, which served as type of prenuptial agreement, protecting a wife’s rights: physical, conjugal and financial support.

Today—ketubot–following, but differing somewhat from the Jewish wedding tradition– have a wide range of texts to suit the couple’s particular beliefs, taste and lifestyle. Beautifully illuminated and paper cut art ketubahs are available. Among the many ketubah artists is Danny Azoulay a well-known Israeli-based artist, who specializes in finely-detailed paper cut ketubot.

The ketubah is signed before/by witnesses before the ceremony begins and is often read under the chuppah.

BEDEKEN

The Jewish wedding tradition, Bedeken, literally means “covering” in Yiddish. It entails the groom covering the bride with her veil, immediately leading up to the nuptials. This Jewish wedding tradition originates in the biblical story of Jacob who married Leah instead of his intended, Rachel. It is usually a very emotionally charged moment since it is very often the first time the couple gets a glimpse of one another on their wedding day.

CHUPPAH

According to Jewish wedding tradition, the ceremony takes place under a wedding canopy: an intimate, sanctified space. The construction of a chuppah must be a temporary structure made by human hands and symbolizes the bride and groom building a new Jewish home.

Nowadays, a lot of young couples continue this Jewish wedding tradition by designing their own chuppah. It can be created with batik, silk, wool, foliage and other materials. The chuppah is often handheld, by friends or family of the couple’s choosing.

THE SEVEN BLESSINGS

The Seven Blessings embody a significant part of the Jewish wedding tradition, emphasizing the prayers for peace in Jerusalem and good wishes and blessings for the couple.

Today, non-Orthodox couples choose to honor their special guests by asking them to read, sing or recite some of their personal blessings, wishes, poetry or song.

BREAKING OF THE GLASS

One of the most known and loved Jewish wedding tradition is the breaking of the glass.
As the chuppah ceremony comes to an end, the groom stomps on a glass shattering it.
One of the explanations for this is that the glass represents the destruction of the Temple and even in times of great joy– such as a wedding–we should remember the losses withstood by the Jewish people

These days, couples most often share the honor, shattering one or two wrapped glasses together to the happy cries of “Mazel Tov”.

Breaking the glass at jewish wedding

BREAKING THE GLASS AT JEWISH WEDDINGS

One of the most well-known and iconic rituals is breaking the glass at the end of the Jewish ceremony under the chupah.
Traditionally, the groom did the stomping, but nowadays the couple often share this maneuver together by smashing one or two glasses in unison.

What is the explanation for breaking the glass at Jewish weddings?

As very often is the case in Judaism, there is no one answer for this. A variety of explanations are given, depending on who you ask.

One of the oldest explanations for breaking the glass at a Jewish wedding dates from the days of the Talmud: the story of a rabbi (Mar) who hosts the wedding of his son. During the wedding, he sees that the attending rabbis are very joyous.  He takes an expensive cup and breaks it in their presence, which has an immediate sobering effect on the celebrants.  It is said that the reasoning behind the breaking of the glass was to make sure the rabbis wouldn’t become too carried away in their merriment and end up sinning.

According to another explanation, breaking the glass at a Jewish wedding was a way to keep demons away. The assumption here is, that the loud noise caused by breaking the glass would frighten the demons away or confuse them into thinking it was an event of mourning, not of celebration and leave the bride and groom to rejoice undisturbed.

Other interpretations are that breaking the glass – “the betrothal wine glass”- after the ceremony affirms that the marriage is now valid.  Alternatively, a more modern interpretation is that breaking the glass at a Jewish wedding is a reminder of the fragile nature of human relations and to cherish them.

The explanation most often given today for breaking the glass at a Jewish wedding is a reference to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem: a reminder that even at times of great joy, we recall the pain and losses suffered by the Jewish people. Frequently, before the breaking of the glass, the words from Psalms “If I forget thee O Jerusalem, may my right-hand fail…” are recited.

A trend that has recently become more popular is that the newly married couple gather the bits and pieces of glass and create a keepsake with the shards to commemorate this incredible moment in their lives.

Whatever the interpretation be, breaking the glass is one of the most important traditions in any Jewish wedding, marking the beginning of the bride and groom’s new life together.

JEWISH WEDDING CEREMONY MARRIAGE BRINGS US TOGETHER

JEWISH WEDDING RINGS: AN OLD TRADITION, OR A MUST HAVE?

Jewish Wedding Rings

The bestowal of the Jewish wedding ring is a prominent and emotionally-charged moment in the Jewish wedding ceremony.

According to tradition, the Jewish wedding ring is a gift given to the bride by the groom during kidushim in the Jewish Wedding ceremony. It seals the deal, so to speak. The Jewish wedding ring ceremony begins when the ring is examined by the Rabbi who checks its wholeness, makes sure it’s worth is more than a pruta (a coin of small value) and that it is indeed the property of the groom to give away. The groom, then, places the ring on his bride’s right index finger. At the end of the ceremony, the bride moves it to the “ring finger” of her left hand.

In fact, the Jewish wedding ring serves a dual purpose: it is a symbol of the bride and groom’s commitment to each other– like the ring that represents an unbroken circle. Moreover, the Jewish wedding ring, in its simple, minimalistic and perfect shape is said to be a portent for a smooth equable life together for the couple.

Traditionally, Jewish wedding rings should be totally unadorned and without gems or stones. The Jewish wedding ring was to be one continuous circle, whose metal should not be cut through or pierced. Nowadays, rings are usually gold, are often engraved on the inside, or alternatively, have a continuous design or a Hebrew saying engraved or in raised letters They may be made of any type of metal, as well. The two-ring ceremony has also been adopted in accordance to the wishes of the couple.

Currently, the Jewish wedding ring custom, and a lot of these traditions are being rediscovered and “renewed and revived” by couples seeking to blend tradition with a modern outlook on marriage.

One of the most significant of modern Jewish wedding traditions is the art ketubah. The ketubah is a Jewish wedding contract, a type of a prenuptial agreement, that serves to protect a wife’s right to financial support.

The new ketubahs are made in a wide range of designs with more modern content; which matches the tastes and style of couples who desire to continue this meaningful Jewish wedding tradition.

Prominent among the many artists who offer beautifully-designed ketubot is Danny Azoulay, an Israeli ketubah artist who specializes in paper cut ketubot. These paper cut ketubot are the fruit of an inspired and creative sense of design that can also be personalized upon request.