Note from Elaine:
Written in Aramaic, many people who have a ketuba with a traditional text have no idea what it says. First used about 2500 years ago, it was essentially the first prenuptial agreement, providing a sum of money to a woman in the event of her husband's death or divorce. Since women in that time did not own property, this was a revolutionary document that protected the status of women. Many couples today use this text because of tradition. Others want wording that is more equitable and speaks more to relationship than monetary agreements. Whichever your preference or need, you should know the meaning and history of this text. More information is provided under ketuba history.
On the ___ day of the week, the ____ day of the month of ____ in the year five thousand seven hundred and sixty-_____ since the creation of the world according to the reckoning which we are accustomed to using here in the city of _____ , _____ son of _____, the groom, said to this maiden, _____ daughter of _____, "Be my wife according to the laws and traditions of Moses and Israel. I will work on your behalf and will honor, sustain, and support you according to the custom of Jewish husbands who faithfully cherish, honor, support, and maintain their wives. And I obligate myself to give you the marriage gift of virgins, two hundred silver zuzim, which belongs to you, and I will also provide your food, clothing, and necessities and will live with you in marital relations according to universal custom." And this maiden, _____, consented and became his wife. The dowry that she brought to him from her father's house, in silver, gold, jewelry, clothes, or furnishings, the groom accepted in the sum of one hundred silver zuzim, and the bridegroom agreed to increase this amount from his own property with the sum of one hundred silver zuzim, making in all two hundred silver zuzim. And thus said _____, the bridegroom, "The responsibility of this ketubah, of this dowry, and of the additional sum I will take upon myself and my heirs after me, so that they shall be paid from the best part of my property and possessions that I have beneath the whole heaven, that which I now possess or may hereafter acquire. All my property, real and personal, even the shirt from my back, shall be mortgaged to secure the payment of this marriage contract, of the dowry, and of the addition made to it, during my lifetime and after my death, from the present day and forever." _____, the bridegroom, has taken upon himself the responsibility of this ketubah, of the dowry, and the addition made to it, according to the restrictive usages of all marriage contracts and their additions made to them for the daughters of Israel according to the enactments of our sages of blessed memory. It is not to be regarded as an indecisive contractual obligation or as a mere formula of a document. We have followed the legal formality of symbolic delivery (kinyan) between the bridegroom, _____ son of ____, and _____ daughter of _____, this maiden, and we have used an instrument legally fit for the transaction to make all that is stated and explained above valid and immediately effective. It is all valid and binding.