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Judaism in the American Home: Marriage

A Special Exhibit of decorative, ritual, and household objects from Jewish-American homes featured in the Undergraduate Library April 14, 2013 through May 12, 2013.

Marriage is the Foundation

The Jewish marriage ceremony, which includes a chuppa or canopy symbolizing a Jewish home, calls upon the new couple to create an “actual” Jewish home to raise children, to celebrate Jewish holidays, and to dwell together in love and happiness.  The objects displayed in the exhibit serve as reminders of the inextricable link in Jewish tradition of marriage, family, and home.

Pop-Up GreetingCard Wedding Scene

Antique Pop-Up Greeting Card for the Jewish New Year

Features a Wedding Ceremony Under a Chuppa

The Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Marriage in Judaism

Facts about Jewish marriage:

• Judaism believes in the concept of soul mates, called bashert
• The primary purpose of marriage is love and companionship, not just childbearing
• A contract called a ketubah spells out terms of marriage and divorce
• Marriages between certain close relatives are prohibited
• Children born out of wedlock are not bastards in Jewish law

Ketubah - Marriage Contract

Iranian Ketubah

Ketubah in Unusual Book Form, Text is Hebrew and Aramaic, Iran circa 1920

The Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

(Not in exhibit due to extremely fragile condition.)

Examples of Ketubot

Ketubot are often ornate with hand-painted or paper-cut patterns.  Antique  examples are often traditional, while contemporary ones may reflect modern tastes.

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Engagement Contracts

Engagement Contract

Engagement Contract, American, circa 1910

The Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Jewish Engagement and Wedding Rings

Engagement Ring

Traditional Engagement Ring (Ceremonial)

The Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan


Some engagement rings were shaped like a temple or synagogue with highly intricate details. They can be quite large and may have hidden compartments or working doors.

Jewish Wedding Rings - Images

From a Pinterest board by Rivkah Vitenshteyn.

(Use the scroll bar on the right to view more images.)

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