As per Jewish law, witnesses have one of the most important roles in a wedding ceremony. For a Jewish marriage to be valid, there must be signatures from two witnesses on their ketubah. Who they are can differ per your perspective and values.
Traditionally both witnesses should be male, but there are certain Rabbis, in more liberal communities, that allow them to be female. They should be Jewish adults over the age of bar mitzvah. The two witnesses should not be related to the couple to be married, nor should they be related to each other. No relatives by blood or marriage of the bride and groom can serve as a witness on a ketubah. That includes your
- father, mother, step-father,or step-mother;
- grandfather, grandmother, step-grandfather or step-grandmother;
- great-grandfather, great-grandmother, etc.;
- sons and sons-in-law, daughters, and daughter-in-law;
- grandsons, granddaughters, grand-sons-in-law or grand-daughers-in-law;
- brothers and brothers-in-law, sisters and sisters-in-law;
- uncles and great-uncles, aunts and great-aunts (by blood or marriage);
- cousins (by blood or marriage); and
- nephews, nieces, great-nieces or great-nephews (by blood or marriage).
Who to choose as your witness?
Witnesses hold a special place in your life. You will forever see their signature besides you and your spouse’s on your ketubah, which is why they need to be someone who is important in your life. In interfaith marriages, with permission from the rabbi, you can ask for a non-Jewish witness to be there to sign your wedding document.
“When my husband and I sat down to talk about who would sign our interfaith ketubah, we agreed that we didn’t just want to ask close friends. After all, there are many ways to honor those you love at your wedding, but signing a ketubah is a special responsibility. So instead, we each spent some time thinking about which friends of ours had the type of marriage that we wanted to emulate in our own relationship.”