While frequently used interchangeably, a Brit Ahuvim or Lovers’ Covenant is distinct from a Brit Nissuin or Marriage Covenant. In a traditional wedding covenant, the groom “acquires” the bride after agreeing to provide the bride a symbolic amount of compensation should the marriage end for any reason. Not surprisingly, many couples object to the traditional language of acquisition, preferring language that defines partnership a joining of equals. In an effort to “rewrite” our intimate relationships, Rabbi Rachel Adler, a feminist and Jewish scholar, wrote a new contract for Jewish couples looking for an egalitarian wedding and partnership.
Informed by a deep knowledge of Jewish Law, Rabbi Adler created a two part Jewish document that goes beyond the basic responsibilities of a Jewish husband to a Jewish wife, and goes further to the define the relationship as a mutual responsibility that encompasses emotional labor. The first part of the contract defines the nature of the relationship and the second part, the Tennaim, defines the conditions of the partnership.
This text is available for same sex couples.
Because of its length, couples using this text should choose larger material sizes or plan to edit the text to a manageable length. The second paragraph with many biblical quotes can be omitted, the length of the quotes may be shortened, or other quotes may be chosen.
The Provisions of the agreement, the tennaim, may be changed to suit a couple’s preferences. However, if it looks like substantial changes, aside from removing parts, to the Hebrew are needed to make the Hebrew and English match, you may be referred out to an independent translator.
Please note that the text order form has a field to select a quote which is separate from this text’s second paragraph, although any of those quotes may be substituted.
On the ____ of the week, the ______ day of _________, 57__ according to Jewish reckoning, ________ __, ______, according to secular reckoning, in the city of <<Wedding Location>>, <<Person 1 Full Name>>, called to the Torah as <<Person 1 Hebrew Name>> ben/bat <<Name 1 Parents Hebrew Names>>, and <<Person 2 Full Name>>, called to the Torah as <<Person 2 Hebrew Name>> ben/bat of <<Person 2 Parents Hebrew Names>>, confirm in the presence of witnesses a lovers’ covenant between them and declare a partnership to establish a household among the people of Israel.
The agreement into which <<Person 1 Name>> and <<Person 2 Name>> are entering is a holy covenant like the ancient covenants of our people, made in faithfulness and peace to stand forever. It is a covenant of protection and hope like the covenant God swore to Noah and his descendants. It is a covenant of distinction, like the covenant God made with Israel, saying: You shall be My people, and I shall be your God. It is a covenant of devotion, joining hearts like the covenant David and Jonathan made, as it is said: And Jonathan’s soul was bound up with the soul of David. It is a covenant of mutual lovingkindness like the covenant between God and Zion, as it is said: I will espouse you forever. I will espouse you with righteousness and justice and lovingkindness and compassion. I will espouse you in faithfulness and you shall know God.
The following are the provisions of the lovers’ covenant into which <<Person 1 Full Name>> and <<Person 2 Full Name>> now enter:
1. They declare that they have chosen each other as companions, as our rabbis teach: Get yourself a companion. This teaches that a person should get a companion, to eat with, to drink with, to study Bible with, to study Mishnah with, to sleep with, to confide all one’s secrets, secrets of Torah and secrets of worldly things. 2. They declare that they are setting themselves apart for each other and will take no other lover. 3. They hereby assume all the rights and obligations that apply to family members: to attend, care, and provide for one another [and for any children with which they may be blessed] [and for__________ _____________ child/children of _________] 4. They commit themselves to a life of kindness and righteousness as a Jewish family and to work together toward the communal task of mending the world. 5. They pledge that one will help the other at the time of dying, by carrying out the last rational requests of the dying partner, protecting him/her from indignity or abandonment and by tender, faithful presence with the beloved until the end, fulfilling what has been written: "Set me as a seal upon your arm, for love is stronger than death."
To this covenant we affix our signatures.
(Adapted for use with permission from Rabbi Adler).