The History of the Star of David

The history of the Star of David (Magen David in Hebrew) is more than a little murky. How did two overlapping triangles become the single most powerful icon of the Jewish people? We unpack the roots of the Magen David as an ancient Kabbalistic amulet tracing its path into the universal symbol of almost all things Jewish and Israeli. After watching the video, use the prompts below to learn more and get your students thinking.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. When is the oldest record of the six-point star as a Jewish symbol from?
    • First Zionist Congress
    • The Holocaust
    • The First Temple
    • Second or Third century
  2. What’s the name of the oldest known manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible?
    • Leningrad Codex
    • Aleppo Codex
    • Dead Sea Scrolls
    • Birnbaum Edition
  3. Sources from which Jewish movement gave meaning to the six-point star?
    • Hasidut
    • Kabbalah
    • Haskalah
    • Musar
  4. What is the original source of the six-point star being known as David’s shield (Magen David)?
    • Psalms
    • The Book of Samuel
    • The Book of Boundary from 14th century Spain
    • The Talmud
  5. Which Jewish community was the first to use the Star of David as its official emblem?
    • 14th century Prague
    • 15th century Spain
    • 7th century Palestine
    • 20th century Israel
  6. When did the Star of David’s use become widespread amongst Jewish communities?
    • 19th century
    • 18th century
    • 20th century
    • 14th century
  1. The Star of David is both the symbol of Judaism and of the State of Israel. Do you see any issues with the Jewish religion and country having the same symbol or is it a natural fit? If it’s an issue, what kind of dilemmas can you foresee?
  2. The Star of David was cemented as the symbol of Zionism at the First Zionist Congress in 1897 which was chaired by Theodor Herzl. It was chosen as the symbol over iconic Jewish symbols like the Menorah. Do you think it is the best choice of symbol or should it have been something else? Explain your answer.
  3. When Israel was first established, then Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett argued that the Star of David shouldn’t be used as the emblem of the new state because it could lead to accusations of dual loyalty for Jews living in the Diaspora. Looking at the situation today, do you think this was a gratuitous concern or a legitimate one?
  4. The Star of David is a powerful image that evokes many emotions for Jews around the world. How do you feel when you see a Star of David?
  5. At the 2019 Washington DC Dyke March, queer Jewish activists were singled out and barred from participating due to the Jewish pride flag’s similarities with the Israeli flag which organizers referred to as a symbol of “violent nationalism”. Do you see the Star of David as political, religious, cultural, or something else? What impact does this have on Jewish people everywhere? How does this interpretation impact Jews around the world?
  1. Using the Star of David Art images, ask each of your students to choose one of the images that is especially powerful or interesting to them. Ask your students to present their images, explain its history and why they connect with it.
  2. In June of 1948, a month after the State of Israel was established, the Israeli government’s designated committee announced a public competition for flag designs for the new Jewish state. With your students, pretend it is June 1948 and there is not yet an Israeli flag. Facilitate a mini competition in which your students develop their own flag designs for the State of Israel. Students should think creatively and openly without basing their design on the current flag. After everybody presents their designs, have an anonymous vote to determine which flag will represent the Jewish State!
  3. Give your students our Kahoot about the Star of David!

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