The six-pointed star on the flag of Israel has been used both for good and bad for the Jews. Already in 13 century Europe, the Jews were required to wear yellow badges for identification and making them feel inferior. Sometimes the badges were circles, sometimes it was in the form of the Tablets of the Law, representing “The Old Testament”. Through the centuries the badges became a star and fines were imposed on Jews if they did not wear the badges in public. The six pointed star was reborn again in 1939 by the Nazis, intended to divide and to shame. It was a white armband with a blue Star of David or a yellow badge in the form of a Star of David. Jude was written on it.
On the other hand, the Star of David has beautified synagogues and Jewish Houses of Learning the same amount of time. It is very much associated with the Jewish faith.
A year before the First Zionist Congress (in 1897) Theodor Herzl wrote: We have no flag, and we need a flag. If we desire to lead many men, we must raise a symbol above their heads. We shall march into the Promised Land carrying the badge of honor.” They soon had a flag, two interlocking triangles, called the “Flag of Zion.”
At the re-dedication of the Churva Synagogue in Jerusalem on Chanukah 1926, Chief Rabbi Kook in his speech described the flag as “holy” and a symbol of redemption.
When Israel decided on a flag for the newly established state, it was the Star of David that was going to have a new life and meaning. The State of Israel voted in 1948 on blue and white colors, blue stripes like the stripes of the tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl and the Star of David symbolizing the unity and hope for the Jewish people.
The Hebrew name for this symbol is Magen David, which means “The Shield of David”. It explains it’s meaning much better, because it is not just a star. It refers to God’s protection. King David did not win by his own strength, but with help from the Almighty. Ribbono Shel Olam, Master of the Universe is protecting us from all directions; North, South, East, West, up and down. It was and is the symbol of Jewish freedom and a new life instead of forced badges.
Happy 70th birthday Israel. You are a miracle! On the Day of Independence we honor the flag of Israel and treat it with respect. We are surrounded by it’s beauty; on public buildings, in the streets, on cars, motorbikes and on most private homes. How true is Ben-Gurion’s words about Israel, relevant for yesterday, today and tomorrow: “Anyone who does not believe in miracles is not a realist.”