Star of David
The Jewish Star}} The Star of David (✡), known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David ( Hebrew ; Biblical Hebrew Māḡēn Dāwīḏ , Tiberian , Modern Hebrew , Ashkenazi Hebrew and Yiddish Mogein Dovid or Mogen Dovid), is a generally recognized symbol of modern Jewish identity and Judaism.Yacov Newman, Gavriel Sivan, Judaism A-Z Its shape is that of a hexagram, the compound of two equilateral triangles. Unlike the menorah, the Lion of Judah, the shofar and the lulav, the Star of David was never a uniquely Jewish symbol, although it had been used in that way as a printer's colophon since the sixteenth century. "The Flag and the Emblem", Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Unlike the menora (candelabrum), the Lion of Judah, the shofar (ram's horn) and the lulav (palm frond), the Star of David was never a uniquely Jewish symbol." During the 19th century the symbol began to proliferate among the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe, ultimately being used among the Jewish communities in the Pale of Settlement. A significant motivating factor, according to scholar Gershom Sholem, was the desire to represent Jewish religion and/or identity in the same manner the Christian cross identified that religion's believers. "The Flag and the Emblem", Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "According to Sholem, the motive for the widespread use of the Star of David was a wish to imitate Christianity. During the Emancipation, Jews needed a symbol of Judaism parallel to the cross, the universal symbol of Christianity." The earliest Jewish usage of the symbol was inherited from medieval Arabic literature by Kabbalists for use in talismanic protective amulets ( segulot) where it was known as a Seal of Solomon.Leonora Leet, "The Hexagram and Hebraic Sacred Science" in :The Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah, 1999, pp. 212-217. The symbol was also used in Christian churches as a decorative motif many centuries before its first known use in a Jewish synagogue. Before the 19th century, official use in Jewish communities was generally known only in the region of today's Czech Republic, Austria and possibly parts of Southern Germany, having begun in medieval Prague. The symbol became representative of the worldwide Zionist community, and later the broader Jewish community, after it was chosen as the central symbol on a flag at the First Zionist Congress in 1897. "The Flag and the Emblem", Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, quote "The Star of David became the emblem of Zionist Jews everywhere. Non-Jews regarded it as representing not only the Zionist current in Judaism, but Jewry as a whole." The identification of the term "Star of David" or "Shield of David" with the hexagram shape dates to the 17th century. The term "Shield of David" is also used in the Siddur (Jewish prayer book) as a title of the God of Israel.
History of Jewish usage
Early use as an ornament, the Leningrad Codex, dated 1008.]] The hexagram does appear occasionally in Jewish contexts since antiquity, apparently as a decorative motif. For example, in Israel, there is a stone bearing a hexagram from the arch of a 3rd–4th century synagogue in the Galilee. "King Solomon-s Seal" Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Originally, the hexagram may have been employed as an architectural ornament on synagogues, as it is, for example, on the cathedrals of Brandenburg and Stendal, and on the Marktkirche at Hanover. A pentagram in this form is found on the ancient synagogue at Tell Hum. In the synagogues, perhaps, it was associated with the mezuzah. The use of the hexagram in a Jewish context as a possibly meaningful symbol may occur as early as the 11th century, in the decoration of the carpet page of the famous Tanakh manuscript, the Leningrad Codex dated 1008. Similarly, the symbol illuminates a medieval Tanakh manuscript dated 1307 belonging to Rabbi Yosef bar Yehuda ben Marvas from Toledo, Spain. A Siddur dated 1512 from Prague displays a large hexagram on the cover with the phrase, "He will merit to bestow a bountiful gift on anyone who grasps the Shield of David."Ulmann.
Kabbalistic usein a mediaeval Kabbalistic grimoire ( Sefer Raziel HaMalakh, 13th century)]] A hexagram has been noted on a Jewish tombstone in Taranto, Apulia in Southern Italy, which may date as early as the third century CE.Herbert M. Adler, JQR, vol. 14:111. Cited in "Magen David", Jewish Encyclopedia, retrieved May 28, 2010. The Jews of Apulia were noted for their scholarship in Kabbalah, which has been connected to the use of the Star of David. www.markfoster.net Medieval Kabbalistic grimoires show hexagrams among the tables of segulot, but without identifying them as "Shield of David". In the Renaissance Period, in the 16th-century Land of Israel, the book Ets Khayim conveys the Kabbalah of Ha-Ari ( Rabbi Isaac Luria) who arranges the traditional items on the seder plate for Passover into two triangles, where they explicitly correspond to Jewish mystical concepts. The six sfirot of the masculine Zer Anpin correspond to the six items on the seder plate, while the seventh sfira being the feminine Malkhut corresponds to the plate itself.Rabbi Blumenkrantz, "The Seder", The Laws of Pesach: A Digest 2010: Chap. 9. See also, link, retrieved May 28, 2010.Simon Jacobson, op-ed, "Tzav-Passover: The Seder Plate", A Meaningful Life, retrieved May 28, 2010. However, these seder-plate triangles are parallel, one above the other, and do not actually form a hexagram.Gershom Scholem shows conclusively they do not form a hexagram. See, Hatakh ha-Zahav, Hotam Shelomoh u-Magen-David (Poalim, Hebrew) 1990:156. According to G.S. Oegema (1996) Isaac Luria provided the hexagram with a further mystical meaning. In his book Etz Chayim he teaches that the elements of the plate for the Seder evening have to be placed in the order of the hexagram: above the three sefirot "Crown", "Wisdom", and "Insight", below the other seven.G. S. Oegema, Realms of Judaism. The history of the Shield of David, the birth of a symbol (Peter Lang, Germany, 1996) Similarly, M. Costa wrote that M. Gudemann and other researchers in the 1920s claimed that Isaac Luria was influential in turning the Star of David into a national Jewish emblem by teaching that the elements of the plate for the Seder evening have to be placed in the order of the hexagram. Gershom Scholem (1990) disagrees with this view, arguing that Isaac Luria talked about parallel triangles one beneath the other and not about the hexagram.Hatakh ha-Zahav, Hotam Shelomoh u-Magen-David (Poalim, 1990, Hebrew) p. 156 The Star of David at least since the 20th century remains associated with the number seven and thus with the Menorah, and popular accounts associate it with the six directions of space plus the center (under the influence of the description of space found in the Sefer Yetsira: Up, Down, East, West, South, North, and Center), or the Six Sefirot of the Male ( Zeir Anpin) united with the Seventh Sefirot of the Female (Nukva).Rabbi Naftali Silberberg, "What is the Mystical Significance of the Star of David?" Some say that one triangle represents the ruling tribe of Judah and the other the former ruling tribe of Benjamin. It is also seen as a dalet and yud, the two letters assigned to Judah. There are 12 Vav, or "men," representing the 12 tribes or patriarchs of Israel.
Official usage in Central European communitiesIn 1354, King of Bohemia Charles IV prescribed for the Jews of Prague a red flag with both David's shield and Solomon's seal, while the red flag with which the Jews met King Matthias of Hungary in the 15th century showed two pentagrams with two golden stars.Schwandtner, Scriptores Rerum Hungaricarum, ii. 148. Facsimile in M. Friedmann, Seder Eliyahu Rabbah ve-Seder Eliyahu Ztṭa, Vienna, 1901 In 1460, the Jews of Ofen ( Budapest, Hungary) received King Matthias Corvinus with a red flag on which were two Shields of David and two stars. In the first Hebrew prayer book, printed in Prague in 1512, a large hexagram appears on the cover. In the colophon is written: "Each man beneath his flag according to the house of their fathers…and he will merit to bestow a bountiful gift on anyone who grasps the Shield of David." In 1592, Mordechai Maizel was allowed to affix "a flag of King David, similar to that located on the Main Synagogue" on his synagogue in Prague. Following the Battle of Prague (1648), the Jews of Prague were again granted a flag, in recognition in their contribution to the city's defense. That flag showed a yellow hexagram on a red background, with a star placed in the center of the hexagram.Reuven Kashani, "The National Flag" The Israel Review of Arts and Letters, 1998/107–8, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1999). "In 1648, the Jews of Prague were again allowed a flag, in acknowledgment of their part in defending the city against the Swedes. On a red background was a yellow Shield of David, in the centre of which was a Swedish star."
As a symbol of Judaism and the Jewish community's (top left) and Herzl's (top right) 1897 drafts of the Zionist flag, compared to the final version used at the 1897 First Zionist Congress (bottom)]] , footballer for Hakoah Vienna]] Flag used in the early 20th century]] Flag according to flag chart from Nouveau Petit Larousse Illustré, 1924]] The symbol became representative of the worldwide Zionist community, and later the broader Jewish community, after it was chosen to represent the First Zionist Congress in 1897. A year before the congress, Herzl had written in his 1896 Der Judenstaat: We have no flag, and we need one. If we desire to lead many men, we must raise a symbol above their heads. I would suggest a white flag, with seven golden stars. The white field symbolizes our pure new life; the stars are the seven golden hours of our working-day. For we shall march into the Promised Land carrying the badge of honor. David Wolffsohn (1856–1914), a businessman prominent in the early Zionist movement, was aware that the nascent Zionist movement had no official flag, and that the design proposed by Theodor Herzl was gaining no significant support, wrote: At the behest of our leader Herzl, I came to Basle to make preparations for the Zionist Congress. Among many other problems that occupied me then was one that contained something of the essence of the Jewish problem. What flag would we hang in the Congress Hall? Then an idea struck me. We have a flag—and it is blue and white. The talith (prayer shawl) with which we wrap ourselves when we pray: that is our symbol. Let us take this Talith from its bag and unroll it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all nations. So I ordered a blue and white flag with the Shield of David painted upon it. That is how the national flag, that flew over Congress Hall, came into being. In the early 20th century, the symbol began to be used to express Jewish affiliations in sports. Hakoah Vienna was a Jewish sports club founded in Vienna, Austria, in 1909 whose teams competed with the Star of David on the chest of their uniforms, and won the 1925 Austrian League soccer championship. Similarly, The Philadelphia Sphas basketball team in Philadelphia (whose name was an acronym of its founding South Philadelphia Hebrew Association) wore a large Star of David on their jerseys to proudly proclaim their Jewish identity, as they competed in the first half of the 20th century. In boxing, Benny "the Ghetto Wizard" Leonard (who said he felt as though he was fighting for all Jews) fought with a Star of David embroidered on his trunks in the 1910s. World heavyweight boxing champion Max Baer fought with a Star of David on his trunks as well, notably, for the first time as he knocked out Nazi Germany hero Max Schmeling in 1933; Hitler never permitted Schmeling to fight a Jew again.
The Holocaust]] A Star of David, often yellow, was used by the Nazis during the Holocaust to identify Jews. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, there initially were different local decrees forcing Jews to wear distinct signs (e.g. in the General Government, a white armband with a blue Star of David; in the , a yellow badge, in the form of a Star of David, on the left breast and on the back). If a Jew was found in public without the star, he could be severely punished. The requirement to wear the Star of David with the word ( German for Jew) was then extended to all Jews over the age of six in the Reich and in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (by a decree issued on September 1, 1941 and signed by Reinhard Heydrich) ist sichtbar auf der linken Brustseite des Kleidungsstücks fest aufgenäht zu tragen.}} The Jews' star consists of a palm-sized, black solid six-pointed star made of yellow fabric with a black inscription [which says "Jew". must be visibly and firmly sewn on the left chest of the garment.]}} (This policy came into full force as of September 19, 1941) and was gradually introduced in other Nazi-occupied areas. Others, however, wore the Star of David as a symbol of defiance against Nazi antisemitism, as in the case of United States Army private Hal Baumgarten, who wore a Star of David emblazoned on his back during the 1944 invasion of Normandy.
Contemporary use]] The flag of Israel, depicting a blue Star of David on a white background, between two horizontal blue stripes was adopted on October 28, 1948, five months after the country's establishment. The origins of the flag's design date from the First Zionist Congress in 1897; the flag has subsequently been known as the "flag of Zion". Many Modern Orthodox synagogues, and many synagogues of other Jewish movements, have the Israeli flag with the Star of David prominently displayed at the front of the synagogues near the Ark containing the Torah scrolls. Magen David Adom (MDA) ("Red Star of David" or, translated literally, "Red Shield of David") is Israel's only official emergency medical, disaster, ambulance service. It has been an official member of the International Committee of the Red Cross since June 2006. According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Magen David Adom was boycotted by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which refused to grant the organization membership because "it was ... argued that having an emblem used by only one country was contrary to the principles of universality." Geneva Vote Paves the Way for MDA Red Cross Membership, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, December 8, 2005 Other commentators said the ICRC did not recognize the medical and humanitarian use of this Jewish symbol, a Red Shield, alongside the Christian cross and the Muslim crescent. Magen David: Shield or Star? On Language, by Philologos, The Forward June 30, 2006
Use in sportsSince 1948, the Star of David has carried the dual significance of representing both the state of Israel, and Jewish identity in general. In the United States especially, it continues to be used in the latter sense by a number of athletes. In baseball, Jewish major leaguer Gabe Kapler had a Star of David tattooed on his left calf in 2000, with the words "strong-willed" and "strong-minded", major leaguer Mike "SuperJew" Epstein drew a Star of David on his baseball glove, and major leaguer Ron Blomberg had a Star of David emblazoned in the knob of his bat which is on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame. NBA basketball star Amar'e Stoudemire, who says he is spiritually and culturally Jewish, Isabel Kershner and Harvey Araton "Amar'e Stoudemire's Quest to Israel", The New York Times, August 3, 2010 had a Star of David tattoo put on his left hand in 2010. NFL football defensive end Igor Olshansky has Star of David tattoos on each side of his neck, near his shoulders. Israeli golfer Laetitia Beck displays a blue-and-white magen david symbol on her golf apparel. In boxing, Jewish light heavyweight world champion Mike "The Jewish Bomber" Rossman fought with a Star of David embroidered on his boxing trunks, and also has a blue Star of David tattoo on the outside of his right calf. "Dodger-Giant Rivalry Downright Nostalgic", The Spokesman-Review, September 24, 1978 Other boxers fought with Stars of David embroidered on their trunks include world lightweight champion, world light heavyweight boxing champion Battling Levinsky, Barney Ross (world champion as a lightweight, as a junior welterweight, and as a welterweight), world flyweight boxing champion Victor "Young" Peres, world bantamweight champion Alphonse Halimi, and more recently World Boxing Association super welterweight champion Yuri Foreman, light welterweight champion Cletus Seldin, and light middleweight Boyd Melson. Welterweight Zachary "Kid Yamaka" Wohlman has a tattoo of a Star of David across his stomach, and welterweight Dmitriy Salita even boxes under the nickname "Star of David". Maccabi clubs still use the Star of David in their emblems.
Origin of the nameThe Jewish Encyclopedia cites a 12th-century Karaite document as the earliest Jewish literary source to mention a symbol called "Magen Dawid" (without specifying its shape). "Magen Dawid", Jewish Encyclopida, retrieved May 28, 2010. The name 'Shield of David' was used by at least the 11th century as a title of the God of Israel, independent of the use of the symbol. The phrase occurs independently as a Divine title in the Siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book, where it poetically refers to the Divine protection of ancient King David and the anticipated restoration of his dynastic house, perhaps based on Psalm 18, which is attributed to David, and in which God is compared to a shield (v. 31 and v. 36). The term occurs at the end of the "Samkhaynu/Gladden us" blessing, which is recited after the reading of the Haftara portion on Saturday and holidays.A similar term, "Shield of Abraham" appears in the first blessing of the " Amidah" prayer, which was written in early Rabbinic times (around year 1, a millennium before the first documentation of the term in reference to a sixGpoint star). That term is probably based on Genesis 15:1, where God promises to shield Abraham. The earliest known text related to Judaism which mentions a sign called the "Shield of David" is Eshkol Ha-Kofer by the Karaite Judah Hadassi, in the mid-12th century CE: Seven names of angels precede the mezuzah: Michael, Gabriel, etc. … Tetragrammaton protect you! And likewise the sign, called the "Shield of David", is placed beside the name of each angel.Eshkol Ha-Kofer by Judah Hadassi, 12th century CE This book is of Karaite, and not of Rabbinic Jewish origin, and it does not describe the shape of the sign in any way.
- In Unicode, the "Star of David" symbol is U+2721 (✡︎).
- The world's largest Star of David ( diameter) is at Harold Holt Naval Communications Station, Exmouth, Australia at . ( Google Earth view)
- At London Heathrow Airport in the early 1950s were built six runways in ✡︎ layout, each a bit over a mile long.
- Some criminal gangs, including the Gangster Disciples and those affiliated with the Folk Nation, use the Star of David as their symbol. In the case of the Gangster Disciples this is a reference to the group's founder, David Barksdale, also known as "King David".
- The insignia of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has included a hexagram since the end of the 19th century.
GalleryFile:RoyLindmanSchneiderSynagogueIstanbul.jpg|Star in the Schneider Synagogue, Istanbul File:RoyLindmanDavidsStarAriAshkenaziSynagogue.jpg|Star in the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue, Safed File:Magen David Adom.svg|The Magen David Adom emblem File:Karlsruhe Synagoge Luftbild.jpg|A synagogue in Karlsruhe, Germany, with the outline of a Star of David File:Bat Zion I want your Old New Land join Jewish regiment.jpg|A recruitment poster published in American Jewish magazines during WWI. Daughter of Zion (representing the Jewish people): Your Old New Land must have you! Join the Jewish regiment. File:IAF roundel.svg|Roundel displayed on Israeli Air Force aircraft, 1948-today
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