An Excerpt from Ketubah Kit for Rabbis: A Reconstructionist Approach
The Rabbi`s Role: Premarital Counseling as the Key to Restoring the Ketubah`s Integrity
When Jews were governed under Jewish law, it completely defined the legal benefits and duties of marriage. And premarital Ketubah negotiations always openly addressed concerns regarding property, divorce, and death.
Jewish law no longer governs our lives; rather, state or provincial laws are what regulate marriage. They govern what happens to property in case of divorce or one`s death, or what happens if a spouse becomes incapacitated. Those laws offer control over the outcome if the parties take certain legal steps, some of which are quite simple. Yet most wedding couples marry without being challenged to consider such issues in advance. Often, in fact, they don`t even have a clue as to what the laws prescribe.
My thesis is simple: a fully reconstructed Ketubah includes not only the usual ritual text that conveys good intentions, but also all legal documents that cover what a Ketubah used to address: wills, trusts, powers of attorney, prenuptial agreements, etc. If so, a Ketubah is more than a pretty piece of paper that is ceremonially signed. It is a vehicle for couples to define -- in ways that truly matter -- who they are and what they want in their relationship.
Consequently, this kit discusses ways that you as a rabbi can revive the historic functions of a Ketubah that are presently conveyed only in a secular trope -- if at all. Few of the couples who seek you out for wedding officiation may be willing to commit to writing their desired disposition of property in the event of divorce or death. But at the very least, you can assist couples in considering the issues and relevant laws in a personally meaningful and Jewishly resonant way.
How? The rest of this kit will show you. It addresses both the premarital counseling process and the spectrum of outcomes from that process. Furthermore, it provides you with tools specially designed for this purpose. In this way, to whatever extent couples are prepared to put their wishes on paper, you can frame "dry" legal steps as Jewishly honored activity.
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