Each of these symbols listed below have a special religious or cultural significance to the Jewish people. This is by no means a complete list of Jewish symbols, but rather a small collection of the most common and important ones.
The Chai (also Hai) is a recurring symbol in Jewish cultural. It is often worn on a medallion around an adherent's neck. It is a Hebrew character consisting of two letters, 'Chet' and Yod', which together mean living or life. It is used to emphasise the core Jewish belief that life is a sacred gift from God, and must be treasured above all else. It is also used as a symbols of charity and generosity. Many adherents of Judaism wear this symbol as a sign of their faith, and to remind themselves about the role that God plays in their life.
THE MAGEN DAVID/STAR OF DAVID
The Star of David, also known as the Magen David or Shield of David, is one of the most recognisable symbols of the Jewish religion. It is a relatively new symbol of Judaism, stemming from Medieval legends about the Seal of Solomon. The Seal of Solomon, shaped as a hexagram like the Star of David, was rumoured to give King Solomon power over demons and evil spirits. The 'David' referenced in the name of the star is the Biblical David, who protected the Jewish people in defeating Goliath. As such, it symbolises God's protection of the Jewish people. Although originally associated with magic and mysticism, by the 17th Century it had come to symbolise God's relationship and convenient with the Jewish people. It was first used in Vienna in the 1600's to distinguish the Jewish quarter from the rest of the city. It became infamous during The Holocaust as a method of distinguishing Jews from the rest of the population. Jews were forced to wear either a yellow or a blue Star of David on one of their arms. Despite this, the State of Israel adopted the Star of David as the official symbol of the Zionist Movement, and made it the central element of the Israeli flag (shown top right)
The Menorah is one of the oldest symbols of Judaism. It consists of a candle with six branches, having seven candles in total. It is traditionally made of pure gold. The Menorah is a reference to biblical times when it was first used in the portable Synagogue set up by Moses during the Jewish Exodus. It is meant to symbolise God, life, and creation, with the other six branches (creation) stemming out from the central branch (God). It is also a symbol of the Temple at Jerusalem, which was the centre of Jewish life until its destruction by the Romans in 70 C.E. The Menorah is used a symbol of Hanukkah, one of the Jewish holidays. It is displayed on the coat of arms of Israel, as an enduring symbol of the Jewish people.
THE TORAH SCROLL
The Torah Scroll is a copy of the Torah, handwritten on a parchment scroll. It is used as a symbol of learning and knowledge. The scroll also symbolises the core beliefs of Judaism, recorded in the Torah, which are traditionally believed to have been passed down from God to Moses.
The Passover Lamb symbolises the God's relationship with the Jewish people, and his deliverance of the Jewish people from their captivity under the Egyptians. It references the Biblical story where the Angel of Death passed over those houses that had the blood of a lamb sprinkled on their front door, sparing the Jewish people from the slaughter of every firstborn male. The Passover Seder of meal is held each year to commemorate God's saviour of the Jewish people. The sacrifice was continued throughout ancient and medieval times, but is now only practiced at Mount Gerizim.