The Illustrated Jewish Marriage Contract - Mirror to Jewish Art and Life over the Ages
Prof. Shalom SabarUniversity of California
October 16, 2014 / 6.00 pm
Center for Urban History, Lviv
The ketubbah (pl. ketubbot), or the Jewish marriage contract, is a unique historical and artistic document. No other single item of Judaica from the past provides the modern researcher with such a wealth of textual and visual information. Surviving ketubbot attest to the weddings of individuals of all Jewish classes living in a broad geographic range of communities, about whom sometimes nothing is known besides what is contained in the ketubbah itself. A complete ketubbah includes on a single page the exact date and location of its production, the names of the people who commissioned and used it, their social standing, the names of leading personalities in the community, detailed lists of the dowry items and their actual value in local coinage, etc. This factual information is amplified in selected communities by attractive colorful illustrations which present popular designs drawn from the local decorative arts, as well as symbolic motifs pertaining to the wedding and the ideals of Jewish family life. The illustrated ketubbah reached its artistic height in 17th-18th cent. Italy, when the elite Jewish families vied each other whose ketubbah would attract more attention. Attractively decorated ketubbot were also produced by the Sephardi Jews in Europe and among many of the Jewish communities in the lands of Islam.
Lecture will be held in English with simultaneous translation.