Custom Ketubah – David and Francesca Leicester, England

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Design and symbolism: This Ketubah was designed by the couple's request and descriptions – the couple though deeply about the symbolism and meaning of their Ketubah and made very specific and unique requests, and references to an abundance of historical and artistic imagery, in order to create a Ketubah that links them to their Hebrew names, their history, heritage and relationship.

 

  • Birds: Six different birds appear in the Ketubah, two of them are love-birds, small parrots appearing to be kissing each other. The other four decorate the sides of the text, floating on white flowers. These birds are a reference to the bride's Hebrew name, Tzipora (which means bird in Hebrew).

 

  • Harps of David: Two harps decorate the top of the Ketubah, one with a Menora – the sacred candelabrum with seven branches used in the ancient temple in Jerusalem – and one with a star of David. These harps were inspired by recreations of the harp of David (Kinnor David in Hebrew), an ancient Israelite musical instrument mentioned in the bible. These harps represent the groom's Hebrew name, David.
  • Blue skies:  In accordance with the birds and wings, the Ketubah's background was painted as a sky in different times of the day: from daytime to nighttime. These skies represent spirituality and heaven while the starts represent future and continuity as well as a connection to the ancestors of the past, as G-d tells Abraham in the book of genesis that he will make his descendants as plentiful as the stars in the sky. Thus the bride and groom should receive blessings as plentiful as the stars in the sky.

 

  • The Temple:  The couple requested to have an image of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem – a connection to their religion and heritage as well as to the city of Jerusalem which is mentioned during the Jewish wedding ceremony.

 

  • The Chuppah:  In the center of the Ketubah is an image of a traditional Jewish Chuppah, with a bride and groom and four witnesses holding the poles of the four corners of the canopy (Chuppah) which itself is made out of a Tallit, the traditional Jewish prayer shall which is frequently used as part of the wedding ceremony. The Chuppah represents a Jewish home, symbolized by the cloth canopy and the four poles. Just as a chuppah is open on all four sides, so was the tent of Abraham open for hospitality. Thus, the chuppah represents hospitality to one's guests, as well as a link between the homes the bride and groom came from and the new home they are now building together.

 

Quotes, text and words: The quote on the top of the Ketubah, hand written in calligraphy in white and gold (using 23 kt. gold leaf), is taken from Psalms 8 combining two of it's lines (line 1 and line 9) which mention the names of the groom (David) and the bride (Tzipora - bird in Hebrew):

  "לַמְנַצֵּחַ עַל-הַגִּתִּית, מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד"

"צִפּוֹר שָׁמַיִם, וּדְגֵי הַיָּם"

 

Translated into English they mean:

״For the Leader; him that excelleth on the Gittith. A Psalm of David״ (Gittith= Or, kind of instrument, or tune.)

״The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea״

 

 

Finally, the quote above the bride and groom and their Chuppah is taken from the seventh blessing of Sheva Brachot (the seven blessings traditionally said under the Chuppah):

״קוֹל שָׂשׂוֹן וְקוֹל שִׂמְחָה, קוֹל חָתָן וְקוֹל כַּלָּה״

״...the sound of joy and the sound of celebration, the voice of a bridegroom and the voice of a bride..."

The process:

  • Research: The couple had made a request to insert many specific symbols and imagery and had collected inspirational imagery themselves. Added to thei research, further visual research was conducted to find just the right imagery for the couple's unique requests.

 

  • Materials and techniques: The final Ketubah was high quality Arches® watercolor paper, using black Chinese black ink for the text, which was hand written in calligraphy, in a Yerushalmi font. The illustration was created using colors such as tempera, gouache, colorful ink and resistant watercolors, and original 23 kt gold leaf was applied to parts of the calligraphy.

 

  • Reaching its final destination: The finished Ketubah was carefully transported from Germany, in which is was created, to Leicester, England, in which the wedding took place. The couple then took the Ketubah back to their home in London, England.

In their words:

Nehama produced the most beautiful and delightful Ketubah for my wedding. She listened to all of our suggestions and created a Ketubah that far exceeded our expectations. Not only is she a brilliant artist but is fabulously creative as well. The Ketubah she produced is far more than just a marriage contract, it is a work of art and now has pride of place on our wall. Could not recommend her highly enough!

 

David & Francesca

Leicester, England

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E-Mail: nehamaketubah@gmail.com