Symbolism in Jewish Jewelry

Star of David – Magen David – Surprisingly this symbol has not always been associated with Judaism. It wasn’t even mentioned in the rabbinic literature until the middle ages. The importance of the Magen David as a symbol of Jewish jewelry and heritage become cemented when the symbol took on meaning for Jews and was often found adorning Jewish houses. It could also be the fact that Hitler forced Jews to wear Stars of David to identify them during World War II. Supposedly it represents the six points of God’s absolute rule of the universe in all different directions: north, south, east, and west, down and up. The triangles may represent the good and evil nature of humans. The star has been used to protect against evil spirits.

Jewish Jewelry - Chai PendantChai – from the Hebrew word ‘hai’ means ‘living’, found most commonly in the following phrase: (עַם יִשְרָאֵל חַי, “The people of Israel live!”). Chai is associated with the number 18, so for instance Jews will give donations in multiples of 18, “giving chai”. The Chai symbol is traditionally used when celebrating life events like birthdays, weddings, high holidays, etc.

Torah – The Torah is Jewish jewelry symbolic of water due to the essential need in life for water. Water itself never flows upwards, only downwards, and cannot be found in arrogant crowds. The Torah has also been compared to fire, burning away the evil traits of mankind with spiritual illumination and warmth.

Hamsa – an Arabic word خمسة‎ khomsah, means five. It comes in the shape of a right hand palm, and is said to be protection against the evil eye. The hamsa is also called the hand of Miriam, the sister of Moses. The hamsa is a piece of Jewish jewelry that is a sign of protection, representing strength, power, and blessing.

Evil Eye – Well known as the symbol of bad luck and injury. The evil eye is representative of jealousy and envy. The person the evil eye is directed at falls into a string of bad luck and potential harm. There is evidence of the evil eye in sources like Plutarch, Heliodorus, Athenaeus, and Aristophanes. It is said that even Socrates had an evil, glaring eye.

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