The author developed this book`s innovative thesis and approach together with five Reconstructionist colleagues from across the USA. During
three years of occasional meetings for study and discussion, they concluded that the contemporary equivalent of the traditional Ketubah includes not only the
usual "suitable for framing" text that conveys good intentions, but
also all legally binding documents that would cover today what a traditional
Ketubah used to address.
They explored how best to revive the Ketubah`s historic function of
specifying what happens in case of divorce or a spouse`s death. They asked,
"How can rabbis today assist couples in considering these challenging
issues -- and relevant laws -- in a personally and Jewishly resonant way?"
The result is a book that restores the consideration of meaningful, vital
"legal" issues as Jewishly honored activity.
Rabbi Stein`s book spotlights how rabbis can incorporate the
"full" Ketubah into the premarital counseling process and into the
wedding ceremony. It shows how they can productively raise legal questions
without themselves being legal experts. And it provides them with numerous tools
and guides -- based on the traditional Ketubah -- that are specially designed to
suit a wide range of contemporary couplesThis handsome little book is searchable, printable, and easily navigable
via dozens of hyperlinks. The author grants copyright permission for limited
distribution by rabbis in the course of counseling or teaching. Beginning in Spring 2003, look for the companion e-book, Ketubah
Kit for Couples -- which, like the present volume, will be available
exclusively from eBookShuk.com.
the Author -- Ketubah Kit for Rabbis: A Reconstructionist Approach
David E. S. Stein ---
David E. S. Stein is a Reconstructionist rabbi and editor who makes classic Jewish texts accessible to contemporary readers. Previously he revised the late Mortimer Cohen`s Pathways Through the Bible: Classic Selections from the Tanakh (JPS: 3rd edition, 2002), and edited both The JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh (1999) and A Garden of Choice Fruit: 200 Classic Jewish Quotes on Human Beings and the Environment (1991). He has also authored scholarly articles that take a fresh look at Jewish texts related to ritual and to family law. He lives in Redondo Beach, California.
Definition of Terms
What is a Reconstructionist Ketubah?
The Evolution of the Traditional Ketubah
The Ancient Era
The Gaonic Era
The Medieval Era
The Modern Era
The Contemporary Era
THE TRADITIONAL KETUBAH
The Rabbi`s Role:Premarital
Counseling as the Key to the Ketubah`s Integrity
A Process Model for Reconstructing a Ketubah
Spectrum of Outcomes from a Reconstructionist Process Tikkun Olam and a Reconstructed
APPENDIXES:TOOLS FOR RAISING LEGAL ISSUES Appendix A.What Is
Marriage?Exploring the Jewish
Appendix B.Create Your Own
Ketubah: A Guide for Couples
Premarital Discussions on the Traditional Ketubah
Raising the Questions Addressed by Traditional Ketubot
Rabbi Speaks with Couple: Handling Responses
an Engaged Couple about Preparing for the Worst
Introducing the "Ketubah by Default"
The "Ketubah by Default" for Four Sample States (CA, CT, NY,
Appendix D.The Opportunity: On the Exploration of Judaism in Premarital Counseling
Rabbi`s Role: Premarital Counseling as the Key to Restoring the Ketubah`s
Jews were governed under Jewish
law, it completely defined the legal benefits and duties of marriage. And
premarital Ketubah negotiations always openly addressed concerns regarding
property, divorce, and death.
Jewish law no longer governs our lives; rather, state or provincial laws
are what regulate marriage. They govern what happens to property in case of
divorce or one`s death, or what happens if a spouse becomes incapacitated. Those
laws offer control over the outcome if the parties take certain legal steps,
some of which are quite simple. Yet most wedding couples marry without being
challenged to consider such issues in advance. Often, in fact, they don`t even
have a clue as to what the laws prescribe.
My thesis is simple: a fully reconstructed Ketubah includes not only the
usual ritual text that conveys good intentions, but also all legal documents
that cover what a Ketubah used to address: wills, trusts, powers of attorney,
prenuptial agreements, etc. If so, a Ketubah is more than a pretty piece of
paper that is ceremonially signed. It is a vehicle for couples to define -- in
ways that truly matter -- who they are and what they want in their relationship.
Consequently, this kit discusses ways that you as a rabbi can revive the
historic functions of a Ketubah that are presently conveyed only in a secular
trope -- if at all. Few of the couples who seek you out for wedding officiation
may be willing to commit to writing their desired disposition of property in the
event of divorce or death. But at the very least, you can assist couples in
considering the issues and relevant laws in a personally meaningful and Jewishly
How? The rest of this kit will show you. It
addresses both the premarital counseling process and the spectrum of outcomes
from that process. Furthermore, it provides you with tools specially designed
for this purpose. In this way, to whatever extent couples are prepared to put
their wishes on paper, you can frame "dry" legal steps as Jewishly
. . An important addition to the rabbi`s Jewish wedding library. I highly
recommend it.. . .
Gives new meaning to the task of writing a ketubah. . . . enables rabbis to
think through the possible uses of a ketubah and to open up many possibilities
to couples who are making a life commitment. . . . Responds to the needs of
various couples: heterosexual or gay/lesbian. In its appendixes, the many texts
presented for study and the teachers` guide add to its depth. Furthermore, the
guide for rabbis in handling possible responses to questions, the sample `ketubot
by default,` and the list of questions addressed by traditional ketubot are all
most helpful and thought-provoking."
Rabbi Linda Holtzman Director, Department of Practical Rabbinics
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
. . A valuable tool for premarital counseling and a must for rabbis of all
streams. . . . Marvelous, a
chiddush -- a fresh, creative, and practical resource. . . Includes a rich
collection of classic texts, felicitiously translated. The history of the
Ketubah is presented concisely and with rare clarity. . . . Displays a
tremendous sensitivity to both Jewish and American legal issues. Its material on
`preparing for the worst` is gentle, informative, and vital."
Rabbi Barton G. Lee Director, Hillel at Arizona State University
CCAR Board Member
people seem to spend more time worrying about the color of the tablecloths or
which band to choose than they do preparing themselves for the challenges of
marriage. Therefore Rabbi Stein`s kit is a valuable and much needed resource.
His knowledge of the classic Jewish sources is impressive, and his willingness
to apply them to the world in which we live today is commendable."
Rabbi Jack Riemer,
editor of The World of the High Holy Days, volumes l, 2, and 3;
and co-editor of So That Your Values Live On.
. . An important supplement to the rabbi`s manual -- appropriate to rabbis from
any of the liberal denominations. I recommend it highly to my colleagues.
. . Working with a couple on their ketubah has increasingly become an important
educational and pastoral opportunity. Faced with a wide array of choices,
couples who may never have taken an active role in creating a ritual item now
need to choose, and often help create, a ketubah. The
Ketubah Kit for Rabbis is an invaluable tool when facing these decisions. It
moves the choice of ketubah to the very center of thinking about the ground
rules and abiding values of the marriage relationship.
. . Its charts offer guidance on how to structure the discussion
process, and a useful collection of texts provides material for study. The
electronic form is easy to navigate."
Rabbi Leonard Gordon Germantown Jewish Centre
(USCJ; Philadelphia, PA)
. . An invaluable resource for those working with couples to explore the
plethora of options in ketubah texts, traditions, and resources. Rabbi Stein`s
thoroughness in his research is matched by his creative use of hypertext --
which make this book a model for future publications. He has brought Jewish
publishing and editing into the 21st century."
Rabbi Dan Shevitz Congregation Mishkon Tephilo(USCJ;
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