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Beginning in the late 1960s, David Moss began to revive the handwritten, illuminated ketubah (pl. ketubot), the traditional Jewish marriage contract. The illuminated ketubah, a centuries-old artistic tradition, had virtually disappeared due to the development of quick and affordable printing. LOVE LETTERS presents a vast collection of the stunningly imaginative illuminated ketubot of David Moss, creator of the acclaimed Moss Haggadah. His ketubot are ‘ìlluminated’ in the medieval meaning of the termartistically rendered to enlighten intellectually and spiritually, to clarify, and to celebrate. Moss has extended the concept of the ketubah by also creating them for couples who wish to celebrate an anniversary by representing their marriage and Jewish values in this traditional art form.
As in his acclaimed hagaddah, LOVE LETTERS is more than artistry applied to a traditional religious text. It is an exploration of a larger subject matterromantic love and marriage in Jewish thought, attitudes, and tradition. These universal themes are expressed most vividly in Moss’s original and memorable images, but also in moving quotations from Jewish sources, both ancient and modern.
LOVE LETTERS is broad in scope, yet intimately personal. The creative designs for the ketubot grew out of the artist’s understanding of the couples who commissioned them. Moss approacheseach ketubah as an opportunity to capture the interests, aspirations, and style of Jewish practice of the particular couple. He explains that the way he works “provides a couple with a unique opportunity to think in a different way about their relationship, their Judaism, and the kind of home they wish to create.” Each of the ketubot is matched with a poignant quotation from Jewish sources, translated for this volume by Michael Swirsky, a well-known writer and educator.
Because of its tender subject matter and its images, which are often breathtaking in concept and execution, LOVE LETTERS makes an engagement, wedding, or anniversary gift that will stir the heart. The book is part of a large format ( 13.25" x 9.5") set, lovingly produced, and contained in an elegant box, which also includes a separate portfolio of seven frameable prints of the traditional wedding blessings executed on heavy, textured art paper.
The ketubot are vibrantly displayed on two-page spreads Following four ketubot, there are representations of Moss’s correspondence with the bride and groom, explaining how the design themes and enriching content in his ketubah resonate with what he has learned about them. The book begins with introductory text about the development of the ketubah and Moss’s role in reviving the tradition of illuminating them. It also includes an explanation of the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony (written by Meredith Moss Levinson), and it concludes with a valuable annotated survey (by Swirsky) of the Jewish sources of the quotations.
LOVE LETTERS is like a multi-layered wedding cake: elegant, visually delightful, rich, sweet, multi-layered and romantic.
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