crewgrrl: (Default)
Today was a first. I have never proofread a ketubah for a divorcee before. Part of the standard formula for a ketubah includes the "status" of the bride after her name.* This basically affects how much money she is worth in case the marriage dissolves.

As I said, this was my first divorcee. Lots of first time weddings, who get "virgin" no matter what actually has gone on behind closed doors, and at least one convert, but no divorcees. So I didn't know what the real Aramaic word was. "The artist knows," I hear you cry. Yes, I'm sure the artist knows, but part of my job is to give the piece one final proofread, just in case the artist's proofreader missed something. I'd hate to have someone pay a lot of money for a piece that their rabbi proceeds to invalidate. And thus the internet search began. I found [ profile] hatam_soferet's online text which had it spelled one way, and a transliteration in an article which indicated it was spelled another. In the end I called the rabbi, who approved the spelling that was in the ketubah.

The practical upshot is that I should probably learn more Aramaic so that I can hedge these questions off at the pass. Or I need my very own pet Aramaic expert.**

/ubergeek mode

*I.E. is she a virgin, a divorcee, a widow, a childless widow who DIDN'T marry her brother-in-law...
**[ profile] hatam_soferet's words, not mine
crewgrrl: (coat of arms)
This is probably the beginnings of a book proposal. One day I will write this book. You can trust that my own wedding plans will not be accompanied by any of this insanity.

  1. If you want to have an art ketubah, please understand that it's going to take time. Once that level of understanding has been reached, please remember to build in the necessary time - anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks (minimum). If the artist or store requires that your officiant (rabbi, cantor, best friend) approve the information before the order can be processed, please make sure they stay on top of it. "Hunting down your rabbi to get him to approve the information before it is too late to be submitted" was never in my job description.

  2. If you need modifications to a lithographed ketubah, please understand that they will be made at the artist's discretion. They know their design better than you do. If they tell you (through me) that a modification can't be made, please listen to them (and me). You went to them because you like their design. Please trust them.

  3. Corollary to #2 - At a certain point, the modifications you may want begin to infringe upon the actual design. If you want that much control, commission an original design. You'll get exactly what you want. However, you will pay for it.

  4. When ordering benchers from a brick and mortar store, please do not mention how it is "so much cheaper online." If it's that much cheaper, buy online. Please remember that you will get what you pay for.

  5. Feel free to order any personalized items (kippot, benchers, ketubah, etc.) well in advance. It's always nice to cross another item off of your list. However, please understand that any of these items are processed by date of affair, and not by date submitted. If you must have the items by a specific date that is more than 2 weeks before the affair, let me know. I will do my best.

  6. I told you they'd be in on time. Calling every day starting a month before the affair will NOT get them in any faster.

These are just a few pieces of advice I wish to pass along to those planning weddings. Be nice to your local Judaica Store clerk. She probably has at least 2 other weddings besides yours that she is worrying about. And when you thank her, it makes her day.
crewgrrl: (Default)
Sometimes people amaze me.

Let me explain. (No, will take too long. Let me sum up). But seriously.

June is the universal wedding season. Jewish weddings are not exempt from this, usually because June falls in between sefirah and the three weeks, and people like to cram the simchas in.

But in the Jewish world, wedding season means an additional headache - the ketubah, or marriage contract. Most of the people who read my blog knows what one of these things is, but let's just say that the simple explanation is that it is basically a legal document stipulating a husband's obligations to his wife (at least, an Orthodox or Conservative one). However, it has become almost standard to have a very pretty version of this legal document, usually with calligraphy, most often filled in by the artist who created the design. The two main groups that feel the headache are the ketubah artists themselves, and the people through whom the ketubot are ordered - Judaica Stores!

Due to the fact that I organized most of what we have in the store that has to do with ketubot, and I am one of the fastest typists, I tend to handle most of the orders for personalized ketubot. This means that in the course of one order, I am in contact with the people who ordered the piece, their rabbi or cantor, and the artist.

This leads to some pretty interesting interactions. I had a couple come in two weeks before their wedding needing a ketubah, and I told them, "No problem. You've only got one artist to choose from, but she's pretty prolific, I'm sure you'll find something." And the couple looked, found a design they loved, and it was ready well in time for the wedding. (Yes, [ profile] cynara_linnaea, it was the Caspis).

Then there was a rabbi I worked with recently. A real mensch*. One of the possible issues with having an artist fill out the ketubah is that it's done well before the wedding. Some rabbis find this to be problematic, as they feel that, as a legal document pertaining to a ceremony occurring at a specific time, it needs to be filled out at that time. So what is most often done is that the "leg" of one of the letters is left out of the lithographed text (the long part of the Hebrew letter "koof") and the fills that in at the ceremony. But you have to tell the artist to leave it blank, otherwise the artist fills it in. On this particular order, even though we told the artist to leave it blank, he filled it in anyway. I told the rabbi this and he said:
"Don't make the artist redo it. He does it by hand, right? I'll just go into the wedding thinking that it looks light to me and so I'll have to go over it with a pen. It's kind of a legal fiction anyway."

Many rabbis would have made the artist redo the whole thing. The artist would have been out time, and money.

I have dealt with angry couples, mistakes that the couple never hear about, rush jobs, and happy customers. And I learn something new every day.

*Stand up guy


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