Persian Ketubah #170
This ketuba was inspired by the intricate
architecture of the ancient Persian culture.
The many shades of blue play against each other to form endless combinations with an overall effect of timeless elegance. The ketuba was custom designed for a wedding event of biblical times:
the union of Queen Esther and King Achashverosh. To read more, see below.
Paper size: 20"Wx 24"H
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Available texts for this ketubah:
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This ketubah was created for a wedding event of biblical times: the union of Queen Esther and King Achashverosh. Our Shalom School, a joint religious school of Congregation Agudath Achim and Congregation Mickve Israel of Savannah, GA, had a school-wide event to teach the students about customs associated with Jewish weddings.
Before the wedding began, the students rotated through several stations, preparing Esther and the King for the big ceremony while learning about different wedding traditions such as the ketubah, the chupah, henna ceremony, placing of the ring, breaking of the glass and the tradition of checking under the veil. The students arrived dressed appropriately and enjoyed a lively themed wedding reception.
Although everyone learned about different customs in different lands and earlier centuries, the actual wedding of Queen Esther and King Achashverosh took place in ancient Persia and so a Persian style ketubah was created for this special celebration. Sixth grade students manned each of the six different stations.
The first station was centered around the
customs surrounding the signing of the ketubah. A ketubah has historically
been used to sanction a marriage. It means "writing" or
"written" and refers to the document signed by witnesses before and
might be read aloud during a Jewish wedding. It traditionally serves as a kind
of premarital contract spelling out duties and responsibilities of the bride and
groom. Many contemporary couples choose a text that expresses their hopes and
commitments for their marriage. Some write their own text, while others search
for a text that speaks of their vision. Historically, the ketubah is also an
expression of artistic creativity. The bride and groom must also find people who
witness their ketubah signing. Traditionally it was to be a religiously
observant Jewish male, unrelated to either the bride or groom. Nowadays, we find
that both Jewish men and women are asked to witness the signing.
Activity: Each student of the Shalom School became a witness to this momentous wedding by signing their names on a special matt board which surrounds the wedding vows and elegant design.
The second station was centered around
badeken (veiling). The badeken is the traditional custom of the groom
placing the veil on his bride just before the ceremony. this custom is said to
be based on the story of Jacob. When he first married, he thought his bride
would be Rachel. When he lifted the veil at the end of the ceremony, he found
her older sister Leah instead. This traditional custom can be as simple or as
elaborate as the bride and groom wish it to be. There are instances of it being
combined with a Torah study session. Others use it as a time for the families to
begin celebrating the wedding with music, singing and dancing. This is a custom
that, if one chooses to use it, can be modified so that it will fit in with the
customs and traditions of the bride and groom.
Activity: the students reviewed the story of Jacob's marriage to Leah and Rachel. Each person was given a piece of veil to hold over their face.
Next, the students learned about the
chupah. The wedding ceremony is usually held under a chupah. It is
symbolic of the first home that the bride and groom will be establishing. It is
open on all sides to welcome family and strangers into their home, just as
Abraham and Sarah's tent was always ready to receive visitors. A Chupah can be
as simple as a prayer shawl held by 4 close friends or as elaborate as hand
carved wooden poles covered with embroidered fabrics or even trimmed with
elaborate floral decorations.
Activity: Each group of students selected 4 members to hold the four corners of a tallit while the others stood under it for a group photo.
The next station centered on the Henna
ceremony. Mostly within Sephardic Middle Eastern or Yemenite families, there
is a pre-wedding tradition referred to as henna. The bride is dressed in
elaborately trimmed colorful clothes and many times weighted down with heavy
jewelry. Her hands are adorned with special paste in decorative patterns that
leave a semi-permanent tint on the skin called henna. A gold coin, symbolizing
prosperity and wealth, is placed in her groom's hand. This ceremony was once the
farewell ceremony for the bride who would be traveling from her village to live
in the village of her new husband. At one time it was attended exclusively by
the women of the village, but has come to be part of the pre-wedding
Activity: A small amount of henna was placed in each person's hand, rubbed in and then washed off leaving some of the pigment on the skin.
Placing of the ring ceremony was the next
station. There are a variety of customs that are associated with the wedding
ring (or rings). There are those who believe that the ring should be a very
plain gold band. Others prefer that it is inscribed with Judaic symbols or plain
ornamentation. Many modern day people wear their wedding rings on the second
finger of their left hand. There is also a Jewish custom of the groom placing
the wedding ring on the index finger of the bride's right hand. Many modern
couples reciprocate this by having the bride place a ring on her groom's finger
as well. This central part of the ceremony where the bride and groom publicly
state that they intend to be husband and wife and exchange rings is the moment
they are married.
Activity: It was explained that there is an old European custom that many couples followed. For the bride and groom who were not able to afford their own rings, they could rent the community ring for five shekels to be used in the ceremony. After the wedding it would be returned to await the next bridal couple. The one that was used for this wedding sits in Mickve Israel's second floor museum.
The 6th and last station centered around
breaking of the glass. Near the end of the wedding ceremony, the groom will
place a glass on the floor and shatter it with his foot. There are several
explanations given for this tradition. Some explain that this is an act serving
as a reminder of the destruction of the ancient temple in Jerusalem and
signifies the couple as a part of the spiritual and national destiny of the
Jewish people. It also serves as a reminder of the fragility of life and that
relationships need to be cared for or they could also be broken. Others say that
it is a superstition that is used to ward off unhappiness at a happy time for
the bride and groom.
Activity: Each student was given a hard plastic cup wrapped in a paper towel to break
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