Friday, February 13, 2015

The Ketubah Incident

The Ketubah Incident

Our friends’ two children were getting married.  The weddings would be a month apart.  It was going to be a joyous, albeit expensive time for all involved.

Every week, my friend would call me to complain about the cost of the weddings, especially his daughter’s. He was also paying for his son’s wedding. I would listen sympathetically but I would stress that he was having a great time participating in the planning and in finally getting the both of them married.  He was really enjoying himself, especially in bargaining with the various vendors.  Something he is both skilled at and loves.

His daughter had called me during all this and we discussed her father’s calls to me and his complaints about the cost and the “work” he was putting into this wedding.  

I told her to tell him: “It’s your job to pay, so stop complaining because you love that your children are getting married.  Besides, you only have one daughter and one son and that’s what the monies are for.”

A few days later he called me and told me his daughter told him “Shelly said it’s your job to pay, so stop complaining and enjoy it.”

“Did you tell her that?” he demanded.

“Absolutely” I answered.  “Isn’t it your job to pay and don’t you enjoy it?”

“Well, yes,” he replied, “but you didn’t have to tell her”.  He continued paying and complaining right up until the days of the weddings.

As his daughter’s wedding approached, I received a phone call from his daughter and him asking me to be the witness on the Ketubah.  

For those unfamiliar with the term, a Ketubah is a marriage contract. All Jewish couples have to have a Ketubah to be officially married.  It sets out the terms of the marriage in terms of duties and possessions of the bride and groom.  In older times it was a safeguard for the bride, detailing what her rights were and what belonged to her in case of a divorce.  Now it is a formality setting up the marriage according to Jewish Law.  Many couples help write their own Ketubahs. Many couples have elaborate and decorative ones that are displayed in their home.

It is an honor to be asked and I readily accepted.

The day of the daughter’s wedding came and Barbara and I arrived early so I could sign the Ketubah before the ceremony.  We all gathered in a room and I met the Rabbi who not only was going to officiate at the ceremony but had created the Ketubah by hand for the couple.

“You’re the witness?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“You do know how to sign your name in Hebrew, don’t you?” he inquired.

“Not since I was 13,” I said, panic beginning to rear its ugly head.     

“Could you write it out for me and I can copy it?”, I asked both hopefully and somewhat desperately.

“Yes, but you will have to practice for a few minutes.  I took great care on this Ketubah and you have to do a good job so as not to ruin it,” he stated.

The Ketubah was beautifully done, and I didn’t want to ruin it.

I took about five minutes to practice writing my name in Hebrew and was able to sign the Ketubah to his satisfaction.  The ceremony was then able to begin.  I had “saved the day” or at least I thought so in my “Walter Mitty” reverie.

The wedding was beautiful, the bride was gorgeous and a terrific time was had by all.

As the son’s wedding approached, I was again asked to sign the Ketubah for him.  

It was going to be the same Rabbi, and I was not going to be caught unprepared this time.

I printed out my name in Hebrew from the internet and practiced until it looked like the printout.  I was ready!

The day of the wedding, Barbara and I, once again arrived and found the bridal party with the Rabbi.  He remembered me and asked if I was prepared to sign again.  

“Absolutely,” I replied, “I’ve been practicing”

But just in case I had prepared a cheat sheet for me to copy from. I wasn’t going to ruin the moment.

I sat down and signed my name with some confidence, and was given a nod of approval from the Rabbi.  This was also a very beautiful Ketubah.

Once again, Walter Mitty had saved the day.  The wedding could go on.

The bride was beautiful, the wedding was a great success, all was well with the world.

Two days later my friend called me and told me a sad tale. 

While walking to the altar to conduct the ceremony, the Rabbi had dropped the Ketubah, face down on the wet floor (it was an outdoor ceremony and it had rained about 1/2 hour before).  The wet floor had ruined the Ketubah.  

The Rabbi had created a new one, and I was asked to meet the Rabbi at his office and sign again.  Of course I readily agreed.

I hastily located my cheat sheet and practiced before going to the Rabbi’s office.  I set up a time and I met him to re-sign the Ketubah.

I successfully performed my task, once again “saving the day”.

Now that I have some expertise in signing my name in Hebrew, perhaps I could make a career out of being a witness.

Anyone having a wedding coming up?