The Jewish History Museum’s seventh annual ketubah and wedding gown exhibit will open on Sunday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. with a champagne and chocolate reception. Models will wear several gowns from the permanent collection, including new acquisitions, as well as gowns on loan. Some of the local brides who wore gowns in the exhibit will attend.
Among the gowns that will be displayed are recently discovered wedding dresses worn by members of Tucson’s Drachman family and the lace wedding gown of Tucsonan Arlene Brody, accompanied by a veil and tiara emblazoned with a Magen David made of pearls, rhinestones, and matching lace. This 1960s headpiece was worn subsequently by Brody’s three sisters and her sister-in-law. Also included is a sisterhood gown belonging to Temple Emanu-El during the Depression, when the congregation worshipped at the Stone Avenue Temple, now the Jewish History Museum. The liquid-satin gown with cathedral train reveals marks of several alterations to fit the varied figures of women whose limited means did not permit the purchase of their own wedding dresses.
Along with the gowns, a number of ketubot (Jewish marriage contracts) are part of the exhibit. The earliest known ketubah dates from circa 440 BCE. Found in Egypt and written on papyrus, this Aramaic document records the amount of the settlement the groom paid to the father of the bride, and names the wife as beneficiary in case of the husband’s death. Ketubot dating back to the 10th century have been recovered from a genizah (archive) in Cairo. Today, ketubot are known for their design and colorful illumination; much of the language codified 2,500 years ago still appears on traditional ketubot. Modern couples often include biblical passages, poetry or wedding vows they have composed.
The exhibit is dedicated to the late Eileen Warshaw, the first executive director of the Jewish History Museum, says Sara S. Wisdom, JHM board member and exhibit chair.
The exhibit will continue at the JHM, 564 S. Stone Ave., through March 29. Admission to the opening reception is $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers. Reservations may be made at 670-9073 or [email protected]. Regular admission is free for members and $7 for nonmembers. Museum hours are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, 1 p.m.- 5 p.m.; and Fridays, noon-3 p.m. For more information, visit www.jewishhistorymuseum.org.