What is a Reform ketubah text?
I offer two choices of Reform ketubah texts. Unlike the Orthodox and Conservative ketubah texts, the Reform movement does not have one strict ketubah text that the movement requires. Instead, the Reform movement’s requirements may vary from rabbi to rabbi. Most Reform rabbis are open to including values which are most important to each individual bride and groom as part of their ketubah contract. Many Reform rabbis also require that the ketubah mention the couple’s plans to build a Jewish home, be a part of the Jewish community, and/or their commitment to Tikkun Olam (the Jewish value of repairing the world, which is often interpreted in modern times as a commitment to social justice).
The Reform ketubah is an egalitarian contract. Unlike the Orthodox and Conservative ketubahs which outline the groom’s responsivities towards the bride, the Reform ketubah focuses instead on the values and commitments that the couple plans to adhere to. This can include things like respect, compromise, and listening to one another, or even more practical items such as traveling regularly, raising children, or whose job it will be to load the dishwasher (just kidding, that one might be a little too real).
Here are some fun ideas to include in your Reform ketubah text:
A Little Background
The Jewish Reform movement (not Reformed, that’s a common misnomer), started in Germany in the late 1700 / early 1800s. At that time, a process began to lift legal restrictions on European Jews and give them something closer to equal rights with other Europeans. This meant Jews could live outside of small secluded Jewish communities (the Jewish ghetto) and integrate more into the culture. This had an impact on the practice of Judaism, and some Jews began to loosen observance, including dietary restrictions (keeping kosher) to try to assimilate into society. The early leaders of the Reform movement aimed to structure a Jewish practice that was more in line with European life. The first Reform synagogue was founded in Hamburg, Germany, in 1818.
Today, the Reform movement is the largest denomination of Judaism in the United States. It has consistently been a leader in bringing progressive values to the larger Jewish community. The Reform movement was the first movement to ordain a female rabbi. The Reform movement began admitting openly gay and lesbian rabbinical students in the 1980s and admitted its first transgender student in 2003. The movement also began accepting patrilinear descent (meaning considering a child Jewish even if the father is Jewish but the mother is not) in the early 80s, provided that the child was raised Jewish. This is contrary to traditional Jewish law which recognizes Jewish lineage through the mother’s side only. The movement also welcomes interfaith couples. Most Reform rabbis officiate at interfaith weddings.
When you choose a Reform ketubah text for your wedding contract, you are linking your special day to this rich history of progressivism, evolution, and social action.
A Focus On Social Justice
The Reform movement has always accepted modernity and incorporates innovation into all aspects of Jewish tradition. A major tenant of the Reform movement is its commitment to tikkun olam (healing the world), and social justice for all – women, people of Color, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, people with disabilities, and peoples of all faiths. With this in mind, many Reform ketubah texts like to incorporate a clause about a future commitment to healing the world. Any social action values that are important to the bride and groom can be included in the Reform ketubah text.
Reform Ketubah Text Options
I offer two specifically Reform ketubah text options that are available for any ketubah in my collection. That said, because the Reform movement is so open in regards to what is acceptable on a ketubah, many couples seeking a Reform ketubah text also like to use the Egalitarian, Secular and Interfaith texts. You can browse all the available ketubah texts here, and you can also always write your own ketubah text!
As with all ketubah texts, you can choose to order your Reform text either blank or filled in. You can learn the difference between the two options and see some samples here. If you are ordering your ketubah without a text fill-in, make sure to check with your rabbi to be sure he or she are comfortable filling it in by hand.
Also see these related pages: