Julie & Justin’s Sweet Home Chicago Wedding

How do I describe how incredibly exciting Julie and Justin’s wedding was for me?

Here are Julie and I, back in the day. Please don’t judge the outfits.

Julie and Anna

 As if celebrating the marriage of one of your oldest friends is not enough… but Julie also asked me to create a totally custom ketubah for her and her lovely fiance, Justin!

Let me tell you a little bit about J&J.  If they were a drink, they would be craft beer, if they were a sport, they would be baseball, if they were shoes, they’d be tennis shoes and if they were a city… well, nobody is more Chicago than Julie and Justin.  And Chicago also happens to be one of my favorite cities in the whole wide world.

Here they are together. Aren’t they the cutest couple?

J&J Baseball

So, of course, for their ketubah, Julie and Justin wanted it to be all about the Windy City. In fact, they had a very concrete idea (pun intended… wait for it). They wanted the art for their ketubah to be inspired by the view out of their window. And I mean, if this was the view out of your window, wouldn’t you want that too?

window view1.jpg

And so the fun began. First, I sketched and presented J&J with two ideas:

Here is idea A. It was a horizontal layout with the view split between three windows:


And here is idea B. It was a more literal representation, focused on the skyline view from their South-facing window.


My scanner was on the fritz, so they forgave the terrible picture quality and went with sketch B. They also wanted to swap out the snowy scene with an autumn one. I, too, would take crunchy leaves over slushy snow.

So I huffed, and I puffed, and….

and… Tadaaa!

photo 2

And here is the ketubah all dressed up on their wedding day.

Julie and Justin liked their ketubah so much, they even made their invitations out of it! What a treat for me to get one of these in the mail…

And some wedding giveaways…

And I mean, seriously, have you ever seen a more beautiful wedding? Nothing like a sweet couple in sweet home Chicago!

Mazel tov Julie and Justin! What a treat it was to celebrate with you.

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Introducing “The Tatyana Ketubah”

Tatyana had a dream. She loved the Mystical Forest Ketubah:

mystical forest sample

But she prefered a Vintage Romantic feel. Like her invite:

Tatyana Invite

Soooooo…. I made her a Mystical Forest Ketubah in Vintage Rose:

Mystical Forest in Vintage Rose Ketubah

A special custom color ketubah for Tatyana. Find more on http://www.aaketubah.com

Mazel tov to the happy couple!!! Here they are:

Mystical Forest Ketubah with Custom Color

Mazel tov to the bride and groom!!

And look what she started!


Mystical Forest Ketubah in Vintage Violet now on http://www.aaketubah.com

Mystical Forest Ketubah by Anna Abramzon in Vintage Rose

Mystical Forest Ketubah by Anna Abramzon in Vintage Rose now on http://www.aaketubah.com

Mystical Forest in Vintage Siena

Mystical Forest by Anna Abramzon in Vintage Sienna now on http://www.aaketubah.com

Thank you for inspiring me, Tatyana!!! Mazel tov!!!!



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Miri and Jason’s Unique Jewish Wedding Ceremony!

How did you and Jason meet?

We met on a group camping trip. We have friends that get together every couple of months to get away from it all and we both started going. We had known each other for a while in an acquaintance kind of way for a good long time before we exchanged email information. Jason lived in GA and Miri in NC, so we talked via email for a couple of months before deciding to meet up when Miri came to see her family, also in GA, for Thanksgiving. The plan was just to hang out as friends, but somewhere in there we both realized friends was not the right idea and were together from there on out.

Can you tell us about your wedding ceremony?

Jason’s response, “It’s pretty”. I thought you might like more of the story. We are both really relaxed people and really wanted that to be reflected in what we were doing. When asked our theme our response was always “easy”. We wanted our family as involved as possible, both of our familes are very important to us and we wanted to work them in as much as possible. We decided to have our bridal party give vows to the oppostite person, we had Jason’s Grandfather and my Grandmother hold on to our wedding bands and then pass them down to our fathers, then mothers to give them to us, and we included a part for the entire congregation  to even take a vow to help our marriage succeed. One of our very good friends was our officiant, and the glass we smashed was made by a childhood friend of mine. We also had a Beatles trend running through the whole thing, our first “date” also included seeing “Across the Universe” so all of our ceremony music was instrumentals of songs from the show and we named all of our tables after Beatles songs. Because our friend was our officiant, we had the opportunity to write our own ceremony, so we were able to do everything we wanted. We were told our only mess up was not handing out tissues.

I love the beautiful idea to have your grandmothers sign the ketubah. How did you come up with that?

Like we said, we’re big on the family. Both my parents walked me down the aisle, we had our siblings in our wedding party, Jason’s father was doing the blessings, and our grandmothers are very important to us. What better way to have them a part of things!

What was your favorite part of the wedding day?

Once everything was said and done and we were able to be with our friends and family. While we both loved so many parts of the day, spending time with all of the people that came to share the day with us was a big deal.

What is your favorite part of married life so far?
Being a family. While we were together before, it’s pretty solid now. Using the words “my husband” or “my wife” is a lot of fun, and for me as a teacher the name swap has been exciting.
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Houston Flood — One Disaster, Two Surprises

I am not sure how much news the Houston Flood made outside of Texas.  But in case you missed it, let me tell you how it went down. We went to bed on the eve of Memorial Day. Sure, there was thunder and heavy rain, but it had been raining for the better part of the month, so we were not concerned. There was no hurricane on the way, no warning.

When our electricity went out, I thought it was romantic. When the thunder grew in intensity and proximity, my biggest worry was whether or not my kids would sleep through it.

As the night went on I joked that it sounded like our house had been transplanted to the underside of Niagra falls. Patricio and I stayed up until about 2 am watching our quiet street fill with water.

I found the whole situation curious, but as a Chicago gal, who has never experienced a flood before, I was more amused than concerned.   It wasn’t until the following morning, when I woke up to about five thousand text messages, that I realized what had happened that night. Here I am on the doorstep of our home. Below is the view from our house. This was surprise number one.

Houston Flood

Suri and I assess the damage

Flood -- out our window flood n braeswood

The flood waters had only gotten about half way up our lawn. Many of our neighbors were not nearly as lucky.  Like something out of a Spielberg movie, flood waters seeped into their homes through the walls, destroying their floors, walls, furniture, and memories.  Many friends were stranded in their attics, some with small children, until they could be evacuated by boat.

Photo courtesy of Chabad

Photo courtesy of Chabad

Here are some pictures from my friends’ homes:

Friends' HousesCard in flood flood

But the worst part was not the night of the storm. For those whose homes flooded, the worst part came next.  If you have never lived through a flood, like I hadn’t, you wouldn’t know that not only are flood waters dangerous, but so is everything they touched. It’s not just rain water, it’s also sewage and it carries diseases as well as dangerous insects and animals (including snakes and even alligators, yikes!!).  The homes become uninhabitable and most of the furniture, clothing, toys that it touched are not salvageable.  The insurance adjusters and FIMA can put a price tag on a house, but it’s impossible to put a price tag on a home — to measure the value of a family’s life accumulated over years, and their sense of security.

Here is a photo from the home of my dear friends’ mom. She is trying to dry out years and years of sentimental cards:

People lost so many things that you can't put a price on.

People lost so many things that you can’t put a price on.

The second surprise that came out of the Houston flood was a bitter sweet one. We live in the area of town that was hit the hardest. It’s called Meyerland and is full of young families and elderly folks.  While it is a diverse area, it also happens to be the heart of the Houston Jewish community. The pleasant surprise was the incredible grassroots effort that blossomed almost literally overnight.  People from all walks of life, backgrounds and religions have joined forces, organizing primarily via Facebook, to help those in need.

flood heroes Flood Damage

My friends and I were a tiny little part of this effort — we went door to door asking victims if they had laundry that needed to be done. Once we collected a car-full of laundry loads, we would post on Facebook and complete strangers would volunteer to take in other people’s sewage-drained clothing and launder it. Most of the time the washers and the flood victims never even knew each other’s names. For days my phone was blowing up with messages from people volunteering to help. I already loved this neighborhood that we have come to call our home, but now I realized to what extent it’s not just a neighborhood, it is truly a community. I feel so lucky to be a part of it.

flood damage2flood damage

The uphill battle for the thousands of displaced families is just beginning. Most will be able to return to their homes eventually, but not for at least 6 months, maybe more. Some will never get to go home again.

Here is my little idea for how you can help, even from far away. For the rest of this summer, 100% of proceeds from the Blessings and Art for Kids and Babies sections of my Etsy shop will go to benefit the flood victims.   So treat yourself to a new Blessing for the Home and help out those whose homes and lives could really use a blessing.

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A special hand-painted ketubah for Rachel and Alexander

Once upon a time there was a couple who really loved this ketubah


But they loved the colors from this ketubah


And this ketubah


So they asked me to hand paint the ketubah with special colors just for them, using the coloring of their two favorites as inspiration…


Tada!!! Mazel tov Rachel and Alexander!!!


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The Making of a Custom Painted Ketubah for #glasshartz

Eric and Jessica found my art when they were searching for a ketubah and came across my Etsy shop . They liked my style, but were looking for something totally original for their upcoming wedding. They were developing a movement/dance theme for the big day (and their life in general) and liked the idea of having a completely unique hand-painted ketubah that no other couple in the world would have.

This is Eric and Jessica, how cute are they?

eric and jessica photo

And so began our journey together. My favorite thing about painting custom ketubot is the opportunity to get to know the couple. Although I have never met Eric or Jessica face to face (they are in San Francisco while I am in Houston) I really loved getting to know them and their creative vision through phone calls, and countless emails.

We started out by brainstorming ideas. I asked them to send me imagery that was appealing and meaningful to them so I could get a feel for their aesthetic.   Since they knew for sure that they wanted a dancing figure on the ketubah, I started out by sketching a whole bunch of dancing figures for them, to see what they would like so we could go from there…

sketch A sketch B Sketch Csketch DSketch E  Sketch F

But these were a little too “Dancing with the Stars” for them. They sent me some images of the kind of dancing they were into, including this amazing sculpture called Bliss Dance from Treasure Island in San Francisco.  Their wedding ceremony would be right next to it.

Bliss Dance on Treasure Island

So back to the drawing board I went! I presented them with a new series of sketches, focusing on a more organic, flowing and energetic dance style:

Eric and Jessica Sketches 2

And we had a winner! They liked sketch C. They also sent me an image they really loved from a meditation retreat they had just attended, for inspiration. Yes, this wonder couple has time to plan a wedding, study for bar exams, and attend meditation retreats too!


Next I presented them with a few layout ideas, one with the text split and one with the text all together:

composition sketch 2 composition sketch 1

They chose the split-text layout and decided against a “chai” on the top.  They also told me they liked the rendering style from the Love Tree 2 Ketubah.


It was time for my favorite part, painting!!

Eric and Jessica

Eric and Jessica 01

Eric and Jessica0 Eric and Jessica1

Drumroll please…..

Eric and Jessica Ketubah

Just a few sentimental sniffles at the FEDEX office, and off the ketubah went on its journey to California and to its permanent home with Eric and Jessica!! Mazel tov you guys!!!!

Here it is, signed, sealed and delivered (but not in that order):

Eric and Jessica final

Thank you so much, Eric and Jessica, for letting my art be a part of your special day. It was truly an honor! May your ketubah stay with you for a long, fulfilling and inspiring marriage, full of miracles! L’Chaim!

Eric and Jessica Dancing

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How to Write Your Own Ketubah Text

Ketubah text has been a hot topic lately, with the custom of a ketubah (or a decorative marital contract) becoming more and more popular among couples from all different backgrounds and faiths. A good way to think about your ketubah is as a “marriage” between visual art and written word.  So, you found the perfect art that speaks to you, but what next? If you are getting married with an Orthodox or Conservative rabbi then the choice is easy, at least for the Hebrew portion of your ketubah — there is a standard Orthodox Aramaic text and what is known as the Conservative text with Lieberman Clause. If you have a rabbi from one of the more liberal movements then you have more decisions to make. Either way, most rabbis don’t mind if you pair the Hebrew or Aramaic with an English text of your choice, especially because the Orthodox and Conservative texts are pretty cut and dry.  Ketubah websites and shops usually have a variety of texts for you to choose from, but what if none of them fully express what you want to say to each other? After all, it’s a very personal conversation between you and your fiancé!

Here are some tips for writing your own ketubah text:

The Basics:

A ketubah is a contract, so there is some information that it traditionally includes:

The date of the week of the wedding — if you are having the ceremony on a Saturday before sunset, some rabbis prefer that you list your wedding as Sunday so you are not getting married on Shabbat.  This is something to check with your officiant.

The English date of the wedding

The Hebrew date of the wedding: remember, Hebrew days start at sunset, so if your chuppah is after sunset then you should list the next day’s Hebrew date. Here is a great site that will convert the date for you.

The location of the wedding: Definitely the city and State, some rabbis also like to add the country

Your names and your parents’ names: traditionally the names are written in this form: “Jennifer daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth/Sam son of Michael and Rachel.”  Of course whether or not you want to include the parents’ names is ultimately a decision for you and your rabbi.  Most Orthodox rabbis prefer to just have the fathers’ names, while Conservative rabbis are often times more open to including both parents’ names.

A sample first paragraph of a ketubah text:

On the _________ day of the week, the _________ day of the month of _____________, corresponding to the __________ day of the month of ______________ in the year _________________, here in __________, ____________, the bride ________________ daughter of ____________ and ____________, and the groom ______________ son of _______________ and _____________, come together before family and friends to affirm their commitment to one another as partners in marriage.

 Now the fun part:

Think of ketubah text as vows you are making to each other. A good way to get started is to brainstorm your values as a couple.  Some good starting points: respect, kindness, support, love, faith, nurture. Do you plan to have kids? You can include some values for raising children, such as “we will pass on our values to our children”.

Don’t be afraid to get personal. Want your partner to bring you a glass of water before bed every night? Here’s your chance to get it in writing!

It’s OK to be funny. Some amazing clients of mine wrote a truly unique ketubah text that included that the bride “always gets a maid.” and “In return the (groom) will always have a microwave (lest he find himself stirring his oatmeal over an electric stove like some early-American pioneer);” Another favorite of mine was a couple who were both teachers and ended their text with “I vow to always be your greatest teacher.” Remember, that humor is never bad for a relationship and is as old a Jewish value as the 10 commandments. 😉

You can write the paragraphs as vows you are saying to each other:

“The bride and groom declared to one another: ….”

Or divide them:

“The bride, _______, said to the groom_________: ….”

“And the Groom,__________, promised his bride__________: …”

Be true to your spirituality: If religion is an important part of your lives, then by all means include that in your text. You can draw on biblical passages, or mention conditioning ancient traditions. But if religion is not your thing, then don’t feel pressured to mention it. This is your ketubah and it should reflect who you are as a couple.

Ask for help: If you get stumped, ask for help! Studying others’ ketubah texts can help you get ideas, but your rabbi, officiant, or ketubah artist could also be great resources.   Remember, they deal with ketubahs all day long and you can’t beat that kind of experience!

Make it meaningful: When my husband and I were getting married, our rabbi said to us that engagement is like a microcosm of the rest of your lives together. You deal with all the big issues: budget, family, personal taste, etc., at once. Your ketubah text is a great opportunity to start a conversation and set a precedent for how you will work together as a couple.

Don’t forget to proof read: Because wouldn’t you hate to stare at a typo on your wall for the rest of your lives?

Enjoy the journey. Remember, your ketubah will stay with you forever, so let this process be a wonderful memory that accompanies you both into old age. Mazel tov!

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