Am I the only one who likes seeing wedding traditions from one faith or heritage embraced by people from other backgrounds? I know that there are some people who don’t like the co-opting of wedding traditions by “outsiders” but I my take is that wedding traditions wouldn’t have become traditions if brides and grooms didn’t find value in them. It’s not for me to say that so-and-so can’t do X, Y, and Z because those practices belong to another culture. Take the ketubah, a traditional and beautiful element of the Jewish wedding and marriage. According to a recent New York Times piece, more non-religious and Christian couples are embracing the ketubah in their own weddings.
“We wanted a permanent reminder of the covenant we made with God,” Mrs. Austin said. “We see this document superseding the marriage license of a state or a court.”
Such sentiments have been reshaping the market for ketubot (the plural in Hebrew) in the past decade. Michael Shapiro, an observant Jew from Toronto who sells artistic ketubot through the Web site ketubah.com, said he had seen the non-Jewish share of his customers rise from zero to about 10 percent. He is forming a spinoff site, artvows.com, that concentrates on non-Jewish consumers.
The decade of non-Jews discovering the ketubah coincides with three relevant social trends: the rise of Christian Zionism, the growth of interfaith marriage, and the mainstreaming of the New Age movement with its search for spirituality in multiple faith traditions. As a result, an increasing number of gentiles have taken up Judaic practices: holding a Passover Seder, eating kosher food and studying kabbalah, the Jewish mystical movement.
What began as way to protect the bride’s interests in the event of a divorce and morphed into a beautiful and artful representation of specific contractural provisions for marriage had a resurgence of popularity in the 1960s Jewish counterculture. Suddenly the ketubah was back and once again something to display rather than something to be hidden away. And, like I said, the ketubah is now finding its way into non-Jewish weddings and onto non-Jewish walls. I’m cool with that – in fact, I think it’s very cool, especially for those Christians who want to give a nod to their religion’s Jewish roots.
How does it strike you, this flow of wedding traditions from one faith or background to another? Do you think it’s cool, or kind of weird and inauthentic?