Whatever it is called, Frume Sarah does not approve.
Before I start getting comments like “it’s a lovely gesture,” “lighten up,” and “what’s the harm?” let me say that I have nothing against the Royal Couple. They should live and be well. In fact, I intend to rise at some unGodly hour and watch the Royal Wedding, as I did some thirty years ago.
My feelings towards this “ketubah” are similar to those of Sandra Bullock’s son having a “bris.” In both cases, we have a ritual article and a ritual practice being reappropriated by non-Jews. And I am not comfortable with that.
Many years ago, I attended a seminar that included a panel of religious leaders from a variety of faith traditions, discussing interfaith weddings. I was profoundly disturbed by the presentation made by a minister from the Unitarian Universalists. She talked about creating a ceremony that drew from many different faith and spiritual traditions. Like a patchwork quilt. A bisl of this, a bisl of that. As they say, a bisl un a bisl, vert a fule shisl [a little and a little and it makes a full pot.] OK — she didn’t actually say the “bisl” part, but you get what I mean.
My emotional response was like one who had something forcibly taken. What gives one religious community the right to take a religious practice from another faith tradition and use it completely out of its original context?
Am I the only one who finds it distasteful that artist, Michael Horton, “took a traditional ketubah text and ‘de-koshered’ it so that it would be suitable to honour a church wedding and then removed the husband-to-wife obligations outlined in a ketubah, so that his text could be purely commemorative.”
The original intent of the ketubah was not to be “commemorative”; it was, and is, a legally-binding document. I know that many Jewish couples choose an English rendering that is flowery and inspiring and, as Jews, that is their right to knowingly select a more contemporary, vernacular language.
If the artist wanted to gift the couple with something Jewish, what about a lovely Birkat HaBayit instead??