JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Ketuba: Yiddish or Hebrew?--and what it can tell you #general


A recent posting asked whether a Ketuba is in Yiddish or Hebrew.

The traditional Ketuba is written in Aramaic with a few Hebrew
phrases (particularly the date and location); in Israel today, I
believe, it is sometimes all Hebrew. In some branches of Judaism
the Ketuba is written in the local language, e.g. English, and
there is always an option to have a local-language Ketuba, too;
often it's printed on the back of the traditional one.

I very much doubt that Ketubot were written in Yiddish in the 19th

Also, the traditional Ketuba uses the formal Hebrew names for both
bride and groom. The surname is not usually given, only the Hebrew
names of the two partners and the names of their respective fathers.
Unless one has some idea of time, location, Hebrew name of bride
and groom, or fathers' name, it would be hard to determine whether
a specific Ketuba is that of an ancestor known primarily by surname.

The T'naim, on the other hand, contract at time of engagement, might
very well have been in Yiddish.

I've finally been able to view the specific ketuba and I will relay
the personal details privately, as requested. The ketuba was printed
in Cheethan, Manchester, UK, in standard Aramaic and Hebrew. I can't
make out any surnames (if there are any), but the groom was a Levite,
which might help confirm or eliminate the question about whose ketuba
it was.

A Ketuba was commonly preprinted. The handwritten info useful to
researchers includes:
- date (in Hebrew)
- name of bride and groom (Hebrew) and their fathers (Henrew)
- whether the bride (but not the groom) is unmarried, widowed or
- the amount of the "official" dowry (usually a standard 100 zuzim;
which is halved in the case of a previously married woman), and then
the groom "generously" doubles the standard sum (he is free to add
more money, which may or may not be recorded in the ketuba)

Michael Bernet,
New York

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