Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Star and the Flag

Gershom Scholem wrote an article about the Star of David where he said that 

"There is no reason to assume that it was used for any purposes other than decorative".

Uri Ofir wrote a research about the origin of the Jewish Magen David where he said:

"I didn't like the scholarly version presented by Gershom Sholem that every nation needs an emblem and that's why we adopted the Magen David (Star of David). Actually he didn't suggest any solution as regards the origin of the Magen David (Star of David). Beyond that I was convinced that on the level of values it's impossible to educate on the basis of opinions such as this".

These two excerpts led me to assume that Gershom Scholem didn't like the fact that the Star of David was chosen for the Israeli flag but then I found an article by Mark Verstandig who wrote :

"Gershom Scholem, the great Jewish scholar JUSTIFIED choosing the Star of David for the Israeli flag because the Jews were murdered under this sign. This sign has been sanctified by suffering and has become worthy of illuminating the path to life and reconstruction".

I think that the place of the Star of David is on the Israeli flag due to three main reasons:

1. The holocaust (as Gershom Scholem thought)

2. Its origin from the tabernacle Menorah (as Uri Ofir thinks)

3. Most of the Israelis think that's the place where it should be!

Hanging the Israeli Flags on My Balcony

Balcony magen david
I never felt the need to hang these white flags with their blue Stars of David on my balcony, although I was born the same year the state of Israel was born. I remember kids who were born the same DAY the state of Israel was born who were invited to the presidents' house on Independence Day – and I'm sure they all hang the flags without thinking about it too much; They and their children and their grandchildren. Not thinking too much was the reason I didn't hang the flag for so many years – there was no need to change my habits.
This year is different – I have this blog, which delves into the deep mysteries of the Star of David, and I follow the meaningful history of this symbol through the ages. I guess that's why I found myself joyfully hanging the Israeli flags on my balcony this morning. Maybe my next generations will hang it too - because of me...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Israeli car

car magen david
Picture of a Magen David on a car is courtesy of Seth J. Frantzman from Flickr who shot it at New Acre. The owner of the car expresses his ardent patriotism, but you can write a nice film script about the drama that happens when he tries to sell this car to an Arab Israeli neighbor...

Shadow of a Star

Photo of the shadow of the gates to Europe's largest synagogue in Budapest, Hungary, courtesy of "fil himself" from Flickr who wrote to me the following":
When we arrived at the synagogue, it was closed, but looking around the outside of the building was amazing, especially when you remember how much the Jews suffered during the Nazi, and the Soviet, occupations. It was approaching evening, and the gates of the synagogue cast this shadow onto one of the pillars, and it was just a good, candid opportunity to capture this ubiquitous symbol of the Jewish faith.

The Da Vinci Code

I guess many people heard about the Star of David for the first time in The Da Vinci Code, a novel written by American author Dan Brown, published in 2003 . Many more saw it in a different light after reading Brown's explanation of the Star of David as the blade and the chalice ... the perfect union of male and female ... Solomon's Seal ... representing the male and female deities.

            (Bantam p.446, ISBN 0385504209).

The book was sold in more than 40 million copies and has been translated into 44 languages.

 Most visitors to Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh Scotland are readers of this novel. 

They read that beneath the Chapel there is a “massive subterranean chamber”, with a Star of David engraved on its floor, and they have difficulties accepting the fact that this floor is covered by a red covering with no trace of their desired symbol.

It seems that fiction is stronger than reality…



Rabbi Marvin Tokayer wrote that the Pathans believe they are of the Lost Tribes,  and that the Star of David is found in almost every Pathan house. The rich make it out of expensive metals and the poor out of simple wood. He saw it at least 20 times. In Minerajan he saw it on a school door and in the stone above that door. The Pathans are about 15 million people living in Pakistan Afghanistan Persia and India.

Friday, April 28, 2006




Adler-Chomsky-Agency initiated a campaign towards Israeli Independence day for Bank Hapoalim:
distribution of 1.5 million flags, free of charge, through Hebrew English and Russian Newspapers and placing huge posters all over Israel showing the Israeli flag and the sentences: "blessing of happy holiday". "Bank Hapoalim"

The Jerusalem Municipality placed huge posters on the side of the main roads with a big Star of David (I liked the design) on the background of the Israeli flag with the words: "blessing of happy holiday".

Why are they spending their good money on such a thing?

To help citizens decorate their streets for Independence Day
To advertise themselves
Both of the above
None of the above
Other reason

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Magen David in Uganda

Magen David in Uganda picture is courtesy of Richard Sobol who included it in his  book ABAYUDAYA: THE JEWS OF UGANDA 
I saw a nice photo `of a Star of David on Google images and following the link under it I read an interesting article about the Jewish converts that reside in the village of Nabugoya at the foothills of Mount Wanale in central Uganda. They converted to Judaism less than a century ago after their chief, Semei Kakungule, took his revenge on British missionaries after the British broke their promise to give him a kingdom. Before tyrant Idi Amin came into power these converts numbered 3,000 members and had 30 synagogues, but Idi Amin banned Judaism and now there are left only six synagogues with 600 Jewish members.

Banknote Security Feature

Banknote magen david
I'm so absorbed in this Star of David blog thing that I start seeing this symbol wherever I go. For example, today I paid in a store with a banknote of 20 NIS and saw a Star of David on it. The banknote carried the Portrait of Moshe Sharett, Israeli foreign minister at the time of Israeli Independence Declaration . At the left side of the banknote I noticed an excerpt from a speech with too-small Hebrew fonts, but I succeeded reading the words "This Magen David".
When I returned home I browsed the Israel Bank website and found that on the Second Series of the New Shekel there's a "See-through: A small triangle printed on either side of the note; the two triangles form a precise Star of David".

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Half Star of David

grocery magen david-1

grocery magen david-2
In 1824 Dr. John Ayrton invented the Thaumatrope, the invention that initiated the film industry. It was a round paper disc. On one side he drew a bird, on the other a cage, and while the disc was twirled the bird was seen IN the cage.Now we have the twirling Israeli Flag Thaumatrope!It shows half of the Star of David - the other half is in the eyes of the beholder. The idea is that we do not inherit the world with its built-in meanings; it's we who give meanings to the world.
The pictures above show our Twirling Israeli Flag in our neighborhood grocery store. We put it also on the shelves of a few toy and gift shops in Jerusalem


Keith Gormezano wrote a thought provoking poem about the Star of David. In this poem he explores the meaning of the Star of David by listing the main associations he has concerning the number six which constitute the corners of the star:
· Six million Jews that were murdered in the Holocaust

· 666,666 days of exile to six continents

· The six wars of Israel against the neighboring Arab countries

· The calendar approaching the year 6,000

· The expulsion from Spain 600 years ago

Right after I posted the above message I sent an Email to Keith Gormezano asking him to let me publish his poem and saying also that:

I'd like to know a little more about the circumstances that lead you to
write this original poem. I read a lot about Stars of David but never heard "Six points/for the six million".

Today, 11 December 2006, I got the folowing letter from him:
I don't really remember how I came up with the idea of six points for the
six million. I think I just though of the irony of the numbers and the way
numbers play a role in Hebrew (chai=18=life). It was at a time in my life
when I was discovering that I had been born a Jew but raised something else.

Happy Channakuh,

Keith Gormezano

So here is the poem:
Star of David

What does it all mean?

My silver Star of David
glows in the darkness;
two triangles superimposed
and opposite one another
(like lovers).

Six points
for the six million
for 666,666 days of exile
to six continents;
for six wars; one still remains to be fought,
613 points of observment
a calendar approaching the year 6,000.

Take my star
separate the lines.
String them all into one thin tightrope
like my ancestors walked in Sefarad
600 years ago.

Recombine the lines into
2 triangles, 2 lovers.
One triangle represents that
all religions lead to G-d.
The other contains Torah, home, and G-d for us.
Yet in mine, if I lack one point,
I have nothing to support


Flickr is the best digital photo sharing website I know. I use it for a few years and enjoy every minute:

  • The upload is very fast
  • Arranging photos as a set is cute
  • Viewing photos as a slide show is very elegant
  • Retrieving photos by tags is very efficient

The only trouble was that I couldn't retrieve my photos from the public zone – only from my private zone. I sent an email to Flickr help desk and got a prompt answer that my account is NIPSA [Not in Public Site Areas]. "If you remove or privatize your non-photos, we can re-review your account and update your status" They added.


So I went over all my photos and deleted all the photomontages and all the screen shots and asked Flickr help desk to update my status.  I got a prompt answer that my account is now "public".


The point is that from today on if you look on Flickr for "Star of David" or for "Magen David" – you get a whole page of my thumbnails!




 I already knew that Charedi people decorate their sukkah with Magen Davids.  I still needed to know:

·        Whether Chabad people decorate their sukkah

·        What is their attitude towards the Magen David?

So I contacted a Chabad Rabbi and he gave me an answer about my first question. He told me Chabadniks don't use to decorate their sukkah since they think that the Sukkah is beautiful as it is and there is no need to make it more beautiful.

 I still look for an answer for my second question... 

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Yarkon river bridge

bridge Hexagrams
Hexagrams in steel picture is courtesy of Hadar from Flickr who wrote to me:

I took it on the Yarkon river bridge, near Ibn-Gvirol street, in Tel Aviv.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Friends who know how busy I am with adding Stars of David to my Blog brought me these sweet stickers. I didn't know what to do with them so I contacted the manufacturer and learned that these stickers are a best seller for Israeli kindergartens...

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Vase Magen David
Vase Magen David picture is  courtesy of Erik from Flickr
Erik told me that it was taken at a photocopy shop in Hadera.

Pesach Egg

Pesach Egg magen david
Photo courtesy of hundertwasser from Flickr who wrote to me the following: 
a few days after our Pesach seder. I was the only Jewish person there and they were decorating easter eggs, so I decided to make a Jewish version! Since eggs are an important symbol to Pesach as well, and since both Easter and Pesach have similar roots in pre-Judeochristian religions, I thought it was apt.

Christians for Israel

Christians for Israel magen david
Big Stars of David on T- shirts of Christians for Israel in Netherlands.
The members of this world wide organization are ardent supporters of Israel – no wonder they are wearing these white and blue T shirts. 
Photo courtesy of uruandimi from Flickr. 

Jewish Gauchos

Jewish Gauchos magen david
Magen David appears on a poster of the Jewish Gauchos of Argentine.
Photo courtesy of Robert Pollack from Flickr who wrote the following explanation:

[This is] "The program to a museum exhibit on the "Jewish Gauchos," or Jewish agricultural colonists in Argentina in the last years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th. Some of my ancestors were among them".
Here are some more details: The Jewish Gauchos were Russian refugees who settled in colonies in Entre Rios, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires; these colonies were established by the Baron Maurice de Hirsch.

The Day of the Star

In ten days we'll celebrate Israel's Independence Day, the day in which there are so many flags and banners hanging from so many buildings and flying from so many cars that nobody will be able to escape seeing the Star of David.

, honey, water, olives, oranges or orange juice, and fruits in season".

This year my son and I are going to contribute, for the first time, to the general ambiance of the holiday by selling ourthaumatrope in a few shops in Jerusalem. Above are some pictures from the preparations 

of the thaumatrope stand:

Friday, April 21, 2006


TIES magen david
My friend Gary Brant sent me this picture of the original Star of David ties he just bought.

I don't recall wearing a neckwear, maybe once, in my wedding – I'll ask my wife; but if I'll ever need one I'll buy me an "ancient tie" from Sonny & Zeev Golan at the BiblicalGallery with a Star of David mosaic pattern. I'll buy both the red and the blue designs. Then I'll wear one and go to an anti Zionist bar and get as many bruises as I want…




promotion logo magen david
Today I got a letter of invitation and in it on an elegant design of a Star of David there was a note about the annual dinner of Shaare Zedek hospital honoring the Israeli Nobel Prize winners which will be held on 28 September 2006.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sevet Menashe community in Mizoram

Stars of David on the sign of the synagogue of Sevet Menashe in Mizoram. Photo and original text from the documentary film "Legends of the Lost Tribes" ( courtesy of Aran Patinkin, my good friend, who directed the film."The Mizo Tribe [also known as the Shin-long Tribe] lives in the mountains between India and Burma, a million and a half tribes-people who believe they are the Lost Tribe of Manasseh and worship its God…
The Mizo people have their own version of the legend of the wandering Jew. After the Exile, they say, the tribe of Manasseh settled in Persia. They were later banished to Afghanistan, Tibet and China. When the Chinese tried to enslave them, they fled to mountain caves.
03:04:00 At some point in the haze of time, our heroes migrated to the Mizoram region, where they live to this day, still longing to complete their own Exodus…
Today, most members of the Mizo tribe see themselves as Christians, yet there are many Hebrew symbols in their original tribal religion. The leader of each village is a priest and his name is always Aaron.
Their religion includes a practice long removed from the Jewish ritual world--animal sacrifices. Their altar resembles that of the Hebrew Temple, yet there is one major difference: the tribes-people primarily sacrifice pigs...
Several hundred townspeople converted to Judaism under the guidance of Rabbi Avihail of Israel. Unlike the rest of the tribe, whose Hebraism is mingled with Christian and other influences, the converted group is a genuine Jewish community…
Members of the Jewish community recreated the Sabbath rituals during the week because filming would violate the holy day of rest. They long for contact with the outside Jewish world to obtain guidance in observing the Torah laws…
The Mizo tried to establish contact with the State of Israel from the moment they heard of its creation. One day in the early 1950s, someone read a newspaper article reporting that Ben Gurion’s speech “shook the Knesset to the core.” They thought that the Parliament building actually trembled, and wrote a concerned letter to the Israeli Consul. This was their first contact with the Jewish State…
Like a distant memory, the tribe nurtured its legend. The final seal of approval was provided by Rabbi Avihail, who did not rule out the possibility that the Mizo could belong to the tribe of Manasseh. The tribes-people seized on his statement as rabbinic validation of their belief…
Just before Passover, thirty members of the community moved to Israel, their age-old dream fulfilled at last. The new immigrants are welcomed by relatives already living in Israel. (Caravan Neighborhood for New Immigrants)
A legend that began in a ramshackle hut at one end of the world leads us to an immigrant’s caravan in southern Israel.


Beit-yaakov magen david india
A Star of David on a wall of a house in the Chebrole village of the Beit Yaakov community
Photo and original text from the film "Legends of the Lost Tribes" courtesy of my dear friend Aran Patinkin who directed this film
"Legend tells us that the exiled Tribes of Israel wandered, weeping bitterly, from Assyria and Persia, through the mountains of Afghanistan, until they came to the enchanted valley of Kashmir. To this day, many of the residents of this valley call themselves Bene Israel--the “Children of Israel.” They kept the heritage of their ancestors until they were compelled to convert to Islam.
In Chebrole village, near the city of Madras, lives a small community that claims its ancestors migrated from Kashmir. This is the story of the community called Beit Yaakov, the House of Jacob.
Zadok Yaakobi is the rabbi of the synagogue. His brother, Shmuel, sets the prayers to music
Shmuel tells us that during the great famine of 1872, most of the Hebrew community converted to Christianity. The missionaries fed their own flock well, persuading many hungry people to convert.
Before his death, Shmuel’s grandfather gathered his children and told them their true origin, the Tribe of Ephraim. When they found this out, the family and other members of the community decided to seek their way back to their Jewish brethren. They made themselves a synagogue and called it Beit Yaakov…
The remaining members of the sect, today numbering about half a million, stayed Christian, but their customs, ranging from dress codes to meat handling, burial and marriage rituals, bear signs of their Jewish origin.
To the Hindus, the entire sect is considered untouchable.
In India, everyone belongs to a caste that determines social status and occupation from birth to death.
At the lowest level of this system are the untouchables, with whom all contact is forbidden.
The Beit Yaakov claim that their classification as untouchables originates in a misunderstanding, possibly because of their Jewish custom of eating meat, a grave sin in the Hindu faith.
Community members attempted to establish contact with Jewish communities in Israel and throughout the world, but were bitterly disappointed. Even the Jews kept their distance.
A few years ago, a sensational article appeared in an Israeli newspaper. The writer irresponsibly attributed Hebrew origins to all the untouchables in India, claiming that there are 300 million potential Jews who want to come to Israel. In reality, there are at most 150 families… Since that article was published, members of the community have not been issued entry visas to Israel. Shmuel finds it difficult even to obtain a tourist visa so he can visit his son who is studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Another group belonging to the Beit Yaakov community lives in nearby Ungol illage.
The biblical Queen Esther, of humble origin, plays a key role in the Beit Yaakov heritage. According to tradition, she became a star in heaven that watches over the community.

Bene Israel Community of India

india tribe magen david.jpg

A Star of David on the sign at the entrance to Mavgav, the oldest cemetery of about 2000 years of the Bene-Israel community in India


Photo and original text from the film "Legends of the Lost Tribes" courtesy of my good friend Aran Patinkin who directed the film


                   Somewhere in the ocean of time, dozens of generations ago, perhaps hundreds, or perhaps never, seven men and seven women managed to survive a mighty storm upon the earthly seas.  These survivors, says the ancient tale, are the ancestors of the Bene Israel community of India.  Some claim that they were refugees who fled the Galilee to escape the evil decrees of King Antiochus.  Others say they were sailors from the Tribe of Zebulun, in the service of King Solomon, who sought ivory, peacocks, monkeys and other exotic delights

                   The so-called realists contend that the Bene Israel are Jews who escaped Arabia or Persia as Islam's star began to rise.  Why is this version more realistic?  God only knows When the storm died down, the survivors beheld the Konkan Coast, a fertile and hospitable land.  They buried their dead at a site near the village of Nawgaon that later became the community's cemetery. Here, they erected a monument recounting community history The Bene Israel were isolated from the rest of the Jewish world.  They did not have synagogues or sacred writings.  The only Hebrew prayer they remembered was Shema Israel, Hear, O Israel,” that they recite with great devotion, and the only biblical precepts they observed were circumcision and the Sabbath...

                   In the eighteenth century, a Jewish merchant, David Rehavi, met the Bene Israel by chance.  At first, he was not at all certain that they were indeed Jews, so he tested them, offering their women several kinds of fish to prepare.  When he saw that they chose only the kosher varieties, he was convinced of the authenticity of their faith and decided to bring them into mainstream Judaism.

                    The synagogues built in Bene Israel villages during the nineteenth century soon became vibrant centers of community life.

                   Now that most of the community has moved to Israel, the synagogues are virtually abandoned".



Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Fashion Trend

Dea Hadar wrote an article in Haaretz newspaper about the new Israeli fashion trend to wear the Star of David in any imaginable way.

The six-pointed symbol is the main attraction at jewelry stands in the street, is a best-seller in prestige shops, appears on jeans, underwear, socks, posters, shoelaces and is being spray-painted on buildings. People are walking around with a Star of David tied around their neck, hanging from an earlobe, dangling from their belly buttons and tattooed on intimate areas of their body.

The Israeli rapper called Subliminal uses many sentences that include the words Star of David in his lyrics; like

I won't give in today, won't ever give in, with a Star of David until my last day.

 He sold a disc of his songs with a Star of David and a chain that soldiers wear as a tag.

Dea Hadar says that 

the source of the Star of David - the symbol, not the fashion - is not clear

I sent her a letter referring her to Uri Ofir's research where he claims that the origin of the Star of David is from the Menorah in the Tabernacle, about a year after the Exodus.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Archaeological Garden

In the Israeli president's residence there will soon be an archaeological Garden whose motif is Jewish heritage in Israel. In it there will be

Capitals, door lintels, relief decorated friezes, mosaics, and dedicatory inscriptions from… Jerusalem, Ramat Rachel, Samaria, Mazor, Caesarea, Tiberias, 'Ilut, Korazim, Gush Halav, 'Alma, Tel Dan, Horbat Shura, Horbat 'En Nashut, Horbat Kanaf, Afiq, Rafid and other sites.

One of the items is a 
Basalt pillar stone with relief decoration depicting a Magen David  and Rosetta [from the] Synagogue [of] Horbat Shura,Upper Galilee 5th-7th century CE.

Decorations and Medals

The Star of David appears on the following Decorations and Medals of the State of Israel:
1. Heroism Decoration-"Awarded for exceptional courage during fighting, against the face of the enemy, while risking one’s life... This award is estimated to have been awarded around 40 times (perhaps half these awards posthumous)".
2. Police Heroism Order
3. Volunteers Ribbon -Awarded to people who lived in the territory of the state of Israel and served in the UK armed forces or in the Turkish armed forces during WW1.
4. Badge for service with British Forces during WWII
5. Nazi Fighter Ribbon and Medal 

- Awarded to Israeli citizens who, during WW II, fought against the Nazis as partisans or as underground movement members and to veterans of the Soviet armed forces who have emigrated to Israel.

Star of David on a Church

I saw a picture of a Star of David on the Santa Croce church in Florence. This arose my curiosity and I started searching who's behind this rare phenomenon. I read that it was designed between 1853 and 1863 by a Jewish architect from Ancona, Niccolo Matas [1798 - 1872].

Matas had wanted to be buried with his peers but because he was Jewish, he was buried under the porch and not within the walls. Another interesting note is that the large Star of David which dominates the top of the facade is in recognition of the Jewish community's support for the construction of the building.  


Star of David Tattoo

Star of David Tattoo
Photo is courtesy of David I. Herman, from Redmond Washington, owner / operator of "Ambrosia Tattoo Gallery, L.L.C.
David wrote to me the following:
The tattoo was done in Michigan when my shop was in Oak Park. I am of Jewish heritage, thus a Jewish/Buddhist tattoo artist. The client is Jewish and is proud to be Jewish, he also has a Hamsa on the other shoulder with the "eye of God" - the raised arms of Jewish slaves - and the tablets of the ten commandments. I included it for your curiosity". I am an ex advertising executive, martial artist, world ranked roulette player, and now a humble tattoo artist and painter. Well, not so humble, I work hard at my craft.

I wrote him back:
This Star of David design of yours is a delight to my eyes...

Monday, April 17, 2006


About two months ago I enjoyed seeing the great documentary "Schmelvis: In Search of Elvis Presley's Jewish Roots" on my T.V; it was before I started this Blog. Now I stumbled upon a review of the book that Jonathan Goldstein wrote (with Max Wallace) about his travels from Israel to Graceland with Dan Hartel and with Reuben Poupko.

 Dan Hartel is a Hasidic Jewish Elvis impersonator, "who performs at senior citizens' homes under the stage name "Schmelvis," and Reuben Poupko is an eccentric Orthodox Rabbi.

The three discover that:

·        "Elvis always wore a Jewish Chai pendant;

·        He put a Star of David on his mother's headstone;

·        He spent his teenage years living in a predominantly Jewish Memphis neighborhood; Cantorial records may have influenced Elvis's singing style;

·        As a young man, he had a nose-job to reduce the prominence of his Jewish nose".