A: I converted to Judaism at the age of 24 after 3 years of living Jewishly and having a strong connection to Israel (I was an exchange student to Israel in High School and lived on kibbutz during college). My Jewish education and Beit Din were supervised by rabbis and rabbinical students at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College with the ethos that I should know enough about being Jewish to participate in any observant community and to be an educated and active Jew. I have conversion certificates from the Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform movements (the rabbis participating in my beit din were affiliated with all three movements).
My Hebrew knowledge comes from studying at Hebrew University and living in Jerusalem. I participated in the Master’s program in Middle Eastern Studies for International students and studied Hebrew and Arabic intensely.
I am also married to a Reform rabbi who was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and have been an active participant in our congregational life over the years. I take my responsibility for the ketubah process very seriously as not just an artist and a Jew, but also as a rebbitzen.
A: Most of the texts & translations are written by Ginny Reel, proprietor and artist of Ketubah-Arts.com. From time to time a couple will license a text from another source or hire a translator to translate their custom text.
A: As part of the ordering process, when they purchase their ketubah, couples fill out a form providing their information. They don’t need any specialized knowledge or Hebrew capabilities. Taking the information they provide, I look up all the relevant information including Hebrew names and Hebrew dates and determine the correct status for the bride. Because there are many Hebrew names that sound alike when written phonetically in English, if there is any doubt, I encourage couples to provide a picture of any documentation (b’nai mitzvah certificates, etc).
A: I try to make proofreading by clergy as quick and painless as possible with respect for the time of all those involved. When I contact the rabbi, the couple will have approved the proofs already. The rabbi is then able to look it over with a focus on the Hebrew and no worries about the couple coming back with different versions.
There is a two stage proofing process that I go through with every couple: 1) Text Proof - a PDF with the couple’s text in a plain easy to read format, and 2) Visual Proof - a photo of the couple’s ketubah as it will be when printed.
I encourage couples to get as far as they can themselves in the process before we contact the rabbi or other proofreader. Usually there are small changes that couples like to make - adding middle names or changing wording, etc - and it is better to take care of all that so that the rabbi is not asked to proof multiple times. Plus, many rabbis like to see only the final proof of the actual ketubah before we go to print.
A: Typically, couples choose to write the non-Jewish names phonetically in Hebrew. This is a good solid choice because it doesn’t make claims on anyone’s identity, their names are their names. If the Jewish partner gives their ritual Hebrew name, I will use the same format for both names in Hebrew. In the absence of a Hebrew name - the secular name is the only one listed - I will write a straight phonetic translation of both names in formal modern Hebrew.
A: The texts are fully customizable and created individually for the couple. This means that any language may be changed. If you have a preference or requirement for what must be included in the ketubah, it can be added without a problem. When the addition or correction is made, a revised proof will be sent for approval.
When you want to make changes, you have a few options: 1) Print out the PDF, and write your changes on the text, then scan it and return it to me via email. 2) Referencing the numbered lines in the text, you can tell me what you want changed. 3) Ask for an editable version of the text in plain or rich format text and directly edit it yourself. 4) If necessary, I will schedule a phone call with you to go over the changes by phone (this is less accurate than the other options, so I tend to discourage it, but if you have a strong preference, I will accommodate).
A: I want couples to have a great ketubah experience and that means having a ketubah that they love and is acceptable to their rabbi. I try to balance couple’s desires for romantic and interfaith/nondenominational language with Jewish values so that they have a ketubah that has Jewish integrity even if it isn’t a traditional text.