Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wedding Wednesday ~ 1898 Ketubah

A ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract between husband and wife. It is traditionally all in Hebrew, though more recently, a ketubah will have English on the left side and Hebrew on the right.

My brother-in-law recently found a ketubah among family papers and thought it was for his grandparents, Rose and Morris, who were married in 1922. He had it framed and when I said I would try to get a translation of the handwritten entries, he took a photograph and emailed it to me.

Once again, the Tracing the Tribe Facebook page has come to my aid with Hebrew translation assistance. I asked if anyone could read the handwritten sections and translate them and Shoshanna Goldstein Sanders and Esther Chanie Dushinsky came to my aid. Their translation:

Thursday, Tenth of Cheshvan 5659
Place: Woodbine, North America
Groom: Mordechai son of Moshe the Levi
Bride: Golda the daughter of Simcha
The English date would be October 26, 1898

It turns out that this ketubah is from the next earlier generation! This is for Rose's parents, Max Levitt and Golda Segal.

I previously only knew that they were married sometime in the 1890s, based on census records (which can be notoriously inaccurate); now I have an actual marriage date!

The translators (and a thank you to Lara Diamond who worked to figure out who these might be) noted that it was hard to decipher the names of the witnesses. One appears to read Mordechai Simanavitch. (I found a Mark Simonwitz in the 1900 US Census in Dennis Township (which is where Woodbine was located in 1900).) The other name was more of a challenge. If you have a thought, feel free to share in the comments. These men are not relatives that I know of, but more likely close friends in the community.

Now I know that Max and Golda were married 117 years ago next Monday.


  1. What an awesome find! So envious. :-) One thing I'd recommend to your BIL though-- if possible, I would keep the original in a pvc and acid-free sleeve away from sunlight and moisture, and instead make a copy and frame the copy instead.

    1. That is a good point about how to keep the original. I believe he did say that it is in a frame behind the appropriate kind of glass. However, I will mention your suggestion to him when we next speak.

      Thanks for the comment!