Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A copy of the ketubah of a giyoret in New York from 1827

Nice new web site on the CJH site, called the Early New York Synagogue Archive (link). Contains some interesting archival material, including, for example, this bound collection of what are in effect copies of ketubbot from marriages performed in Congregation B'nai Jeshurun between 1826 and 1841.

Here is one example from this book, a marriage performed in 1827. The groom was named Israel Eliezer ben Gershon, and his bride was a convert named Sarah bat Avraham Avinu. Note also that the 200 zuz are also given as dolars ma'ot amerika, "Dollars, the currency of America."


  1. By the way, on pg. 29 of the pdf is Mordecai Manual Noah's ketubbah; or rather, of course, the one he gave to his wife. "Mordechai bar Menachem dimikrei Noah." And this one has some big dollars in it.

  2. I wonder if the mesader kiddushin is Phineas Hart, a chazzan, son of another chazzan, Alexander Hart. They were from England and moved to New Orleans, but Phineas got married in Philadelphia in 1833.
    Is that plausible?

  3. Looks like it is.
    See p. 29 of this:

  4. A giyyoret receives 100 zuz as the base amount + 100 zekukim as an additional amount.

    Lawrence Kaplan

  5. Clearly the bridegroom wasn't Syrian - or this predates the Takana.
    When did the sea ("mukefet yama" - 3 line) turn into the East and Hudson rivers? Maybe before the bridges were built the rivers seemed like a sea.

  6. Today, we read:

    מתא נוא יארק דיתבא על נהר האדסאן ועל נהר איסט ריווער ועל כיף ימא

    in gittin.

  7. I mean, we write, not read.

  8. "נהר איסט ריווער"
    Is that like the Yekkes who live on
    Rehov Herzl Strasse?

  9. It is interesting that the signature of the Hatan is interposing between the text and the signatures of the witnesses. From the perspective of Hilkhot Shetarot, shouldn't this be problematic?

  10. R. Maroof:

    i don't know anything about halacha, and can't comment from that angle, but i know something about ketubot, and this isn't unusual

  11. As a rule, you are only supposed to have a single space between the document and the signatures of the witnesses, so as to preclude the possibility of forgery.

  12. AS an amateur ketuba writer, I once got into big trouble for putting the spaces for the signatures of the edim side by side, as was done in this 1827 example. There are also numerous variations in this text from what are now the standard versions; just to mention one, the words "ve-afarnes" and "u-mefarnesin" are missing. Either the range of permissible variations was greater back then, or else the local "clergy" were less than expert. In fact, both of these alternatives may be true.

  13. (some) syrians (today) have the chattan sign too, and i believe its before the witnesses.

    not sure about spelling of new york. but the east river is technically not a river, esp in pre landfill times, so they prob sought to avoid the issue by calling on it on the sea, but what about specifying the name of sea / ocean. either way, i doubt there is any other city in the work called new york. even then.

    us dollars were not common then (or was it beginning to be common then). remember, cong bnei yeshurun was started because the cohen refused to give the mandatory donation of "one shilling" for his aliyah. (they couldnt start a young israel then, cause the shul could not later become conservative).

    last, the divrei chaim (later / mid 1800s) advocated refusing to recognize gitten from "america" cause they didnt know what they were doing.



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