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Star of David History



From the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations:

The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:


Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life. 

Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love. 

Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspire us in our ethical and spiritual life. 

Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves. 

Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit. 

Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.  

Symbols representing some of our sources adorn the banners in the sanctuary of this church.  The banners were designed and lovingly hand sewn by our own Sew Sew circle.  To refresh your memory and relate the symbols to our UU sources, information about the history and meanings behind these symbols will appear in in What’s UP, from time to time this year.  

Because our Jewish friends are getting ready for their annual Passover celebration this week, we choose the Star of David as our featured symbol. The blue hexagram, which appears on a white background, is the well-recognized symbol of Judaism. The symbol is also known as Magen Dawid, or the Shield of David.  Both history and folklore surround it, referring to the biblical King David.  The phrase Magen Dawid, with or without the actual hexagram, was also used as a name for God (Yahweh).  The symbol seems to have been around for a very long time, having been found on a stone in the excavation of a synagogue in the

Galilee, dating from the 3rd or 4th Centuries C.E.  The hexagram appears on some of the tombs of Jewish citizens in ancient Rome.  It also appears on documents of various kinds – covers of prayer books and scriptures, some copies dating back to the 10th Century C.E.  Most sources report that the hexagram has become a universal symbol for Judaism, political as well as religious.  Sadly, the symbol, has another history.  During the era of the Third Reich in Germany (1930’s and ‘40’s), Jewish citizens were required to wear the yellow hexagram, often printed with the word Jude, on their clothing. 

Even the Holocaust did not bury the symbol, however.  When the Zionists formed the State of Israel in 1945,  the blue hexagram, centered on a white field between two solid blue stripes, became the flag of the fledgling state.  

And we, as Unitarian Universalists are thus enriched by the wisdom we derive from Judaism. Shalom.   ( prepared by Josephine Leach)


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