Signing the Marriage Contract

The big photo session over, everyone headed down to a large room off the lower foyer; where the next event would take place. We were now to witness the signing of the Marriage Contract.2831596760_9396dcdb22_o Rows of chairs had been set out in front of a group of joined trestle tables, pushed together long ways to form one continuous tabletop. They were  covered from end to end with white cloths, drapped down both sides–no doubt to hide, and hopefully elevate, their humbleness. The marriage contract lay on the table. Near it, a large parchment, on which beautifully engraved Hebrew writing, surrounded by an elaborately painted border, also waited. The non-signing witnesses (that was us), were seated in rows of chairs facing the table. The Bride and Groom; the Rabbi; and the signing witnesses, sat on chairs behind the table, or stood to the side of them. Martin and Catherine (her head covered by a veil), sat apart from the others at the start of the session. n610906420_1378298_6852When everyone was settled the Rabbi called  us to order, and proceeded to speak on the importance of this gathering. “We are here”, he stated, “to witness a solemn ocassasion; a talk given by Rabbis, to brides and grooms, for uncounted centuries. It was now a time” he said, ” to share–with our new bridal couple–the telling of the laws governing Jewish marriage”. He went on to deliver a most moving speech, and the manner in which he told it showed his sincerity; and his great sense of humour. He spoke to Martin and Catherine of their duties to each other: the home; the children to come; their parents, and their community. He spoke of the joys of marriage, and of the work that must go into it, to make it a happy and prosperous union. n610906420_1378314_1761It was most moving, his manner simple and loving. Before the actual signing, Catherine’s Mom and Dad, and Janet and myself, were called on to whisper into the ears of our children words of  love, and our belief in them.2830768547_6bf9afff26_o The couple now stood to read the ancient, traditional vows pertaining to the Bride and Groom. Martin recited his first; and then Catherine, hers. After which they sat and  signed their names to the marriage contract. The principal witnesses signed them next, and then the Rabbi. Now came the signing of the ‘Ketubah’–a Jewish prenuptial agreement. It is considered an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage. 2831602124_1c597b2885_oIt states that the husband commits to provide food, clothing and marital relations to his wife, and that he will pay a specified sum of money if he divorces her. Martin put his name to it amid much laughter; brought on by the looks of amusement on his and the Rabbi’s face. v03p128a01_ketubahThe Rabbi assured Martin that it’s only use now was ceremonial, and monies are not required to be laid on the table, actually or metaphorically. At last, everything was signed, sealed, and close to being delivered. Amid much congratulating we all headed out for a bite of lunch, served ‘a la buffet’ in the Synagogue’s cafeteria. my-pictures-walmart0492These are the only photos I have of the luncheon, but I would love to know what was being my-pictures-walmart0481discussed behind the soon-to-be weds that elicited their expressions.

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Published in: on March 21, 2009 at 8:45  Leave a Comment  

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