Sunday, May 8, 2011

On Shavuot Lisbon's Jews Read a Special Marriage Contract

We're all familiar with the Ketuba – marriage contract – that is read out loud during a wedding ceremony. But a specific Ketuba read only on Shavuot? Ask the Jews of Lisbon, Portugal, and they'll explain that because Shavuot signifies the unique bond between God and the Jewish people, they have composed a special marriage contract sung out loud by the Chazan – cantor. Before reading the Torah portion, the Shavuot Ketuba is removed from a long velvet covered tube. Two children stand on the Bima, holding the Ketuba open for the Chazan to read. At the conclusion, it is rolled up and inserted in the tube, to be read again the following year on Shavuot.

This is one of the most charming holiday customs that I've found over the past two years. What a wonderful way to illustrate our commitment to Zman Matan Torahteinu. We are wedded to the Jewish way of life. It's what makes us unique among all nations. I do not have the precise wording of the Lisbon Shavuot Ketuba, but the very idea makes for a fun classroom lesson where you and your students write your own Shavuot Ketuba.
I'll be back with more Shavuot customs.

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