A Modern Ketubah

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Jerusalem, Israel, 2002

Bride: Saskia bat Sarah Swenson
Groom: Yonatan Shimon ben David Aharon Moss
Sunday, 24 Elul 5762 (September 1, 2002) On paper

This ketubah was created by the United States born Israeli artist and calligrapher David Moss for the marriage of his son Yonatan to Saskia Swenson. Moss was among the first artists to renew the tradition of hand-written and decorated ketubot. He has served as an inspiration and mentor to many artists who have continued the work that he began and still continues to do. Yonatan, a graduate student at Yale, and his wife have graciously lent their ketubah to the library for the exhibit. It is the only one not from the Yale Library's collection.

In contrast to those of the past, modern ketubot are quite personal and designed specifically for a particular bridal couple. This ketubah is no different. Its theme is Creation. It evokes the relationship of God to his creation and the relationship of all beings to their Creator. With this theme the artist has merged the Talmudic background of the groom with the interest of the bride in Jewish ecology. The leaves and flowers that surround the text suggest the Garden of Eden and the bottom blue cartouche contains a quote from one of the 7 blessings recited at a Jewish wedding ceremony that connects the couple to Eden. Framing the entire document is an ancient midrashic text called Perek Shirah. In it all elements of creation from the sun and the moon to all the animals praise God, each in its own words. Written in micrography, Moss also painted a tiny image of each creature placed next to the passage in which it is mentioned.

Image copyright � 2009 by David Moss, courtesty of Bet Alpha Editions, Berkeley.

A full size, readable image of this Ketubah is available by following this link.

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