I attended a lovely wedding a few years back, and the couple had commissioned a ketubah. I had never seen one before, and it simply enchanted me. Originally intended as an artistic pre-nuptial agreements, meant to remind the couple of their vows, the version I saw on display at the wedding was a beautiful rendering of the couple’s love story, and the things most meaningful in their family history.
I’m reading a very interesting novel- The Marriage Artist, by Andrew Winer. It tells the story of two artists, one of them who becomes famous initially for his ketubot in pre WWII Vienna, but becomes caught up in the Holocaust, alternating with a modern day tale of an art critic and historian whose wife plummets to her death hand in hand with the very artist whose career he has most supported. The two stories run parallel for a while, and then begin to converge, rushing toward a conclusion that is heartbreaking and poignant.
The novel is a story about marriage – intricate, painful, and haunted by the specter of family relationships from previous generations. The writing is stunning, the story dramatic and passionate, each character richly detailed in all their flaws and glories. Winer has skillfully woven together the threads of history, psychology, and family legacy, much as a ketubah portrays the varying strands of marriage itself.