Corner View - Contrast / by Susie Lubell

The first ketubah I ever made was for my brother. I was 20. I'm not really sure how it came to pass that I would do this for them. They probably saw prices for ketubahs in the Judaica shops (this was before ketubah.com) and decided baby sister needed to pitch in. I never even discussed it with them. I just drew what I wanted. A giant colorful tree and the Jerusalem buildings I'd been drawing for a while. And I think they gave me a photo copy of some text they'd found. And it came out beautifully considering I put very little thought into it. That's probably what made it so nice. It wasn't wrought with ketubah-making anxiety. These are the only pictures of it that remain. It's my brother putting a nine iron through it when he got divorced four years later. Not his best moment.


I've since done four others: my other brother's (I'm happy to report they are going on 17 years I think), my own, my friend Heidi's and most recently for my friend Adam. Here's where we encounter the contrast. With Aaron's ketubah, I just painted what I felt like painting. No consultation. Total freedom. No stress. It was for my brother who I knew would be happy with anything I came up with. And he was. Adam's ketubah was a different story. I was doing this as a "professional" or at least semi-professional. It required hours of consultation to figure out the exact imagery that best united two very different people and two very different aesthetics. And by contrast to Aaron, whose idea of Judaism is listening to Matisyahu while drinking a beer on his balcony, Adam is a professor of Jewish History at a seminary in Los Angeles. And by contrast to the rabbi for hire at Aaron's wedding who didn't even read the ketubah aloud during the ceremony, Adam's would be read under the chuppah by a world renowned Aramaic language scholar (a buddy of Adam's). One thing I'll say, even though I was cursing through the process of creating Adam's ketubah (sorry Adam) I learned a lot about what it takes to do this as a business. In fact Adam himself once said he doesn't feel bad for being my most annoying client. It's good to get that one out of the way early. And he was right. I am the master of customer service now. And more importantly, I trust my creative instincts. I loved my brother's ketubah and, despite the challenges, maybe because of the challenges, I loved how Adam's ketubah came out. And I loved how much they loved it. Now I'm just trying to reconcile that 20-year-old artist who doesn't care what the world thinks and paints from her heart with the 36-year-old artist who worries too much about screwing up.

Recently someone ordered Adam's ketubah as a print for his own wedding so I finally had the impetus to stitch together the six scans of the original (which was much larger than my bitty scanner) and digitize the whole thing. Hopefully it will live long in many people's homes. And never come in contact with a nine iron.


For more interpretations of contrast, visit Dana and the rest of the corner views.