Tag Archives: Tova and Cliel

Marriages and Weddings

Jacob’s Dream  by Laya Crust

This week’s parsha, VaYeitze, tells the story of Jacob’s time in Padan Aram from start to finish. He left his family in Be’er Sheva to escape his bother’s wrath and seek a wife among his mother’s family. When he decided to return home he had two wives, two concubines, twelve sons and one daughter plus cattle and wealth.

When Jacob arrived in Padan Aram he saw his cousin Rachel at a well and fell in love with her. He promised to work for seven years for her hand in marriage. He was tricked by his Uncle Lavan and the morning after the wedding he discovered he had married Leah, the older sister. So Jacob worked an additional seven years in order to marry his beloved Rachel.

In this story we see the foundation of certain elements of the traditional Jewish marriage ceremony. Before the wedding ceremony under the chuppah we have the “Bedecken” when the groom sees the bride’s face before lowering her veil. This is to ensure the groom marries his chosen bride, and avoids the trick played on Jacob. As in ancient times there is an exchange of goods between the two families. The bride brings a dowry and the groom gives something of value to the bride’s family. In Isaac’s case his proxy, Eliezer, gave precious silver and gold and “raiment” to Rebecca’s family. In Jacob’s case he didn’t have valuables so he pledged to work for seven years for each of his brides.

Florentine Ketubah by Laya Crust

Over 2,000 years ago Jews began to use a written marriage contract. The ketubah, meaning “writ” in Hebrew, records the date and place of the wedding, the names of the bride and groom, and the financial obligations of each family. This legal document was the first legal document in history designed to ensure financial stability for a married woman.

Throughout time couples started to get decorated ketubahs. Now it is very popular for a couple to commission an original, hand written and painted ketubah, or to buy a poster-type ketubah on line.

I’ve been making ketubahs for decades and have designed and painted over 600 of them! The ketubah in still written in the ancient language of Aramaic and still mentions dowry and the husband’s responsibilities towards his wife and her well being.  Some traditions use actual dollar values and some ceremonially use ancient currencies.


Joy by Laya Crust ——- Tova and Cliel’s Stairway to Heaven by Laya Crust

Leah and Rachel, Jacob’s wives, didn’t have a ketubah. They were fortunate to be married to a man who took care of them and their children, honoured his obligations to his father-in-law, and was able to feed and shelter his large family. It’s true- there were jealousies and difficulties, but Jacob did take care of his own.

I love making ketubahs- discovering a couple’s dreams and preferences. If you want to see more examples of my ketubahs, maybe even order one or commission your own, take a look at my website: www.layacrust.com. 

Make sure to read this week’s Torah portion and enjoy. It’s the beginning of a world altering family saga! Have a Shabbat Shalom,





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Stairway to Heaven

Tova and Cliel Schachter's Brit Ha'Ahuvim

Tova and Cliel Schachter’s             Brit Ahuvim

This week we are reading parshat Nitzavim, and the haftarah is from Isaiah 61:10- 63:9. It is the seventh Haftarah of consolation after Tisha B’Av and is read on the Shabbat preceding Rosh HaShana. King Cyrus has defeated Babylonia and the possibility of returning to Israel is ever closer.

As in other haftaroth that we have read recently God is presented as a bridegroom and the nation of Israel as a bride. There are two lines in this haftarah that are often sung at weddings- (excuse the transliteration) “um sis chatan al kallah, yasis alayich elokayich “. “And as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride so will your God rejoice over you”  Isaiah ch. 62: 5.

August is a beautiful month to get married. The trees are green, the flowers are bright and colourful, and we are enjoying the last relaxing weeks of summer. Two weeks ago a lovely young couple- Tova and Cliel Schachter- got married. Surrounded by family and friends they formalized their commitment to each other, embarking on a new path together.

Tova and Cliel wanted a special ketubah that would represent their values, outline their dedication to each other and reinforce their commitment to mutual respect and equality. Together we discussed the steps they had taken throughout their lives to reach this point and the ideals they share.

Their love of family, friends and Judaism are paramount in their lives. They have a desire to better the world. Their creativity and joy in all they approach is obvious. So- how to put this into a ketubah design?


It occurred to me that they had mentioned that the events of their lives were steps they had taken to arrive at this point in time. And  nothing is more important to Tova and Cliel than family. The idea of a staircase rising within a bower created by two trees seemed perfect. They used a traditional Aramaic ketubah under the chuppah and also signed a Brit Ahuvim which discusses love, respect and mutual responsibility.  The Brit Ahuvim is the text shown here.


The two family trees are growing together, sheltering and guiding a staircase that will reach to the future- to heights beyond imagination.The papercut leaves are the relatives and friends and children of the future. In the sky are 18  23 karat gold stars- a life of precious beauty.P1090134I put it all together, writing the Brit Ahuvim on the staircase, cutting the trees and leaves in a papercut design, adding the 18 stars and then combining all the elements.P1090356

It was a perfect day for the young couple, and in terms of our Jewish calendar it is a perfect time too.

We are approaching the New Year, a time of reflection and renewal. We read aboout God’s commitment to us and our promises to God. In this week’s haftarah Nitzavim we are likened to a bridegroom and a bride. As bridegroom and a bride enter a new life together with commitment and joy, may that be a template for us and our new year as well.

Mazal Tov to Tova and Cliel, and Shabbat Shalom to you!

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