The full guide for Jewish symbols and their meaning
Before getting to know about the Jewish symbols, let us acquaint you with the Jewish religion since they are a part of it. Jewish or Judaism religion is one of the oldest religions of Israel and Hebrew speakers and is considered the first monotheistic religion in the world as well. It is a pattern of whole life and not just a religion.
Judaism is the main religion followed and practiced by the Israel people. Whereas, only the person who is born in a Jewish family would be called a Jew. On the other hand, if an individual wants to be a part of it, he or she will have to go through a conversion process.
Some of the Jewish symbols are used in Jewish worship and can be purchased in stores for religious objects, many of which are in Israel. Over the years, an extensive work of art has developed around some Jewish religious objects and this branch is called Judaica. An article on this site focuses on Judaica and its meaning.
If you have a keen interest in Judaism and want to know about some significant Jewish symbols, then this article will brief you about the same. Not all are aware of these sacred ethnic Jewish symbols, so here we have spelled out these important parts of Judaism.
32 Jewish symbols
1. Torah scroll
Torah, the Jewish symbol, is said to be a holy ark that should not be placed in a box. Instead, every member who belongs from the Jewish nation should keep it open, read, and study it. The Torah scroll is quite long. It includes the complete writing of the “Five Books of Moses” scribed down in real Hebrew. Two wooden shafts are used to roll the Torah scroll.
The sages say that 600,000 collective Jewish souls are correspondent to 600,000 letters in the Torah scroll. The Jews read from it four times in seven days, including the mornings of Mondays and Thursdays, Shabbat afternoon, and Shabbat morning. It is also read during the fasting days and Jewish festivals.
2. The tablets of the covenant (tablets of stones)
In English, we say the tablets of the law, which are frequently known by the name of the tablet of stones or Stone Tablets in the Hebrew Bible. You will get to see numerous Jewish symbols and meanings of each of them that are very fascinating. Similarly, the tablets of the covenant also have a story behind.
These are two stone pieces, on which the ten important Commandments are inscribed. The Biblical narrative says that the initial set in the tablet is engraved by the finger of God. Whereas, the second tablet of stone was chiseled out by Moses, and rewritten by God.
Therefore, it is also said that it is the Jewish symbol of God. On the other hand, some individuals say that both are written by Moses. In the Talmud, the Judaism traditional teachings say these were a symbolic reminder of the sky and the heavens, made of blue sapphire cube-shaped stone.
3. Menorah (part of Israel symbol)
Since ancient times, Menorah has been used as a symbol of Israel. When we talk about its appearance, then it is a candelabrum of seven-branches. The seven branches of this lamp point out to human knowledge. Symbolically, the middle lamp stands for the light of God, along with the six lamps inclined inwards. Besides, the Menorah also represents the “Jewish Shabbat symbols” with the center light that symbolizes the seven days creation. The Menorah was brought to Rome after the Romans did the destruction of the Temple.
Signifying Judaism, later it became a popular iconic and enduring symbol. It was adopted in the 19th century as the Zionists symbol. After that, in the 20th century, the candelabra of seven-branches grew to be the official symbol of the state of Israel.
4. Menorah (for Chanukkah)
As you can see in its carvings, the Menorah figures like a Temple lamp having seven branches. Sometimes people like to buy these Jewish symbols Menorah as ‘Judaica’, which is a symbol of Judaism and can be also used as a decorative item. They are typically not only used to hold candles. A Jewish symbol for the Hanukkah lamp is purposely made for the Chanukkah holiday observance.
You can say “Hanukkah Sameach!” which is used for the purpose to wish someone a Happy Hanukkah, or a Happy Holiday simply in “Chag Sameach.” The eight candles are the symbol of the number of days, while the shamash, the ninth candle, is mainly used as a helper candle.
5. The Seven Species
The seven species describe the grapes, pomegranates, wheat, dates, barley, olives, and figs. These are such important things for which the land of Israel is blessed with. During Biblical times, the Jewish people used to consume these Species, as these were assumed to be the food options that were easily available throughout the land of Israel.
Every species is significantly illustrated in the fifth book of the Torah in which Moses has explained the plenty and richness of the land, which is a giving of the Lord to his people.
Similarly, for the goodness of the land, the traditional berakah (blessing) easily signifies how much do these fruits have their importance in Israel.
6. Star of David
The Star of David is also known and popularized as the Jewish symbol of protection. Probably the most ubiquitous of Jewish symbols, it is composed of two completely equilateral triangles, or you can say it seems like a six-pointed star (hexagram). Very few people are aware of the origin of the Jewish symbols star of David or “Shield of” David. Besides, it has also been linked with the Jewish people.
7. The word Chai (חי)
The Jewish symbol chai meaning belongs to “life,” “living” or “alive”. It is mainly a Hebrew symbol and word, spelled with Chet (ח) and Yud (י). In the manifestation of amulet or medallion, Jews frequently liked to wear the Chai image in a necklace.
The Jewish symbols chai is also documented as a popular image; the same as the other Jewish symbols, with loads of applications, together with plaques, sculptures, tapestries, and paintings.
Jewish symbol hamsa is a defending sign. It has been worn as an amulet, well-known since the very old Middle Eastern time. The Hamsa Hand was used to symbolize God’s Hand. It is also renowned as the best one from the entire range of Jewish sacred symbols. It brings contentment to its owner, whether it is in the form of good destiny, fate or health.
The Hamsa or Jewish symbol of hand has a wide assortment of names, which include chamsa, khamsa, hamsa, and hamesh. However, regardless of peoples’ belief or faith, anyone can wear a Hamsa as it is culturally insensitive and there are no restrictions in wearing it.
Talit is considered as a special garment in the view of kabbalists, which specifically inspires us to have reverence to God, in simple words, for the service of God. The Talit is usually made of cotton, silk, or wool, having blue or black stripes across each end. Besides, silk is sometimes used for a Tallit Gadol. It has long fringes that remind us of God.
A Talit is a traditional fringed garment used as a prayer shawl by the religious Jews. It has unique knotted and twined fringes attached to its four corners, identified as tzitzit. Jewish prayer shawls are worn throughout all prayers on Yom Kippur but mainly worn during the morning prayers (Shacharit). On the other side, a Tallit Gadol is also worn in marriages, especially by the grooms. Therefore, it is also considered as a Jewish marriage symbol.
Mainly, tzitzit is worn by the Jewish males as a ceremonial or traditional garment. Just as the Jewish symbols’ meanings are fascinating, similarly, tzitzit is believed as a reminder of Deuteronomy’s commandments.
The tassel (tzitzit) is made of four strands on each corner. These strands are hanged down from the four corners of a rectangular garment after these are threaded. Whether at work or any opposition, it is also believed that Tzitzit offers us an anchor on the way to spirituality, and better serves as a colloquial.
Including Hebrew parchment scrolls, Tefillin are black leather boxes of two kinds. It comes in two sets- one is for arm and the other is for the head. The Jewish men are required to bind Tefillin every weekday on the top of their head and upper arm in the accomplishment of the verse.
Tefillin is believed to be an extremely dominant mitzvah. If we hear from the experience of people, then Tefillin has changed many people’s lives, whoever has worn it. It is usually recognized as a Jewish headstone symbol. Through a specifically skilled scribe, known as a sofer, the scrolls within the tefillin are decorated with black ink.
It includes handmade parchment and is also known as a Jewish kosher symbol since it is made from a kosher animal. The scribe writes with full concentration using particular Hebrew characters. There are around 1594 letters in each of the Tefillin boxes. If anyone of the letters is incorrectly written, missing, or even extra, the Tefillin will be completely useless.
It also includes leather from a kosher animal, through which the boxes and straps are made. You will notice on both the sides that the top of the Tefillin has a Hebrew letter, Shin. The one having three branches, on the other hand, the other has four. Tefillin are traditionally worn in morning prayers during the weekdays. Besides, Tefillin is not worn on most of the Jewish holidays and Shabbat.
How to Wear Tefillin?
The hand-tefillin is worn onto the left arm (a lefty can put on the right arm), facing the heart, along with the box attached to the bicep. The rest of the strap is then tied up down to your long finger all around the arm for about seven times. Just like a crown is placed onto the head, similarly, the head-tefillin is placed over the top of your head. The box should be in the center of your forehead hairline.
Dreidl or dreidels is a spinning top containing four-sides. It is made of wood or plastic. It is mainly played on the occasion of a Jewish holiday. This Jewish religious symbol is something like a toy for gambling, which is mostly found in a lot of European cultures.
There is a letter of Hebrew alphabet that stands on each of the sides of the Jewish dreidel symbol:
· נ (nun)
· ש (shin)
· ג (gimel)
· ה (hei)
Nun is the Yiddish word nisht (“nothing”), Shin is shtel ayn (“put in”), Gimel is gants (“all”), and Hei means halb (“half”).
13. Dove and Olive
The dove and olive branch isn’t only a Jewish symbol for peace, but it is a renowned and followed symbol all across the world. But there is a reason behind it, why the dove and olives are used as a symbol that features peace. The dove and olive are also supposed to be a Jewish love symbol. Whether it is as a messenger, love or peace, the Doves suit extremely well because of their white color.
You can also see the doves as a religious symbol since you can see Doves bring out as the representation of Paganism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and pacifist groups. If we take an example, then a dove with an olive branch symbol was adopted in the Second World War. But not only this, the symbol is much older as it is also described in the bible.
When God sent the flood on the earth, it is dictated that Noah released a pigeon to search and locate if any ground is available. Thus, the pigeon comes back with an olive branch in its beak and a message that says: “God was once more at peace with him.” Hence, we could say that this sign was adopted as already a part of the history to symbolize peace between countries. This is the reason how the dove turns out to be popular as a Jewish symbol of peace and is thus spread everywhere.
The Jewish new year symbol, Shofaris most often used during the Jewish New Year day. A Shofar is an old musical horn, typically made from a horn of a ram, which is used for religious Jewish purposes. As with the new bug, there are no pitch alteration devices in the Shofar which affect the pitch of the player’s voice.
The Jewish symbols for Rosh Hashanah are also a notable thing. The Shofar is blown by Rosh Hashanah’s synagogue, and is blown at the very end of Yom Kippur every weekday morning; also every weekday in Elul’s month. Shofars are available in a variety of sizes and forms depending entirely on the animal choice and finish level.
15. Western wall
Due to its link with the Temple Mount, the Western Wall is counted as a significant Jewish symbol and name. It is regarded as blessed. Due to the restriction of the way on Templar Mount, despite being the most sacred place in which the Jews are restricted to pray, it lies as the holiest place in the Jewish faith as well.
The Western Wall, Hebrew Ha-Kotel Ha-Mayaravi, is also known as the Wailing Wall in the old city of Jerusalem, which is, in fact, a place of prayer and pilgrimage for the Jewish people. It’s the only traces of Second Temple of Jerusalem, regarded by the ancient Jews, as distinctly sacred, whereas demolished by the Romans in the seventies.
Women who wish to enter the wall have to wear a shirt with sleeves and long skirts or trousers politely and ideally. It is not permitted to have bare shoulders, trousers or else short skirts. Substantial shawls in dark colors and shapes of a cutaway skirt are accessible at the doorway to the prayer section. While praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, “Women of the Wall” wear Tallits, while the Jewish prayer shawls are worn by men.
16. Challah bread cover
In the Jewish rituals, the term “challah” is mainly used as a ritual more extensively, which means any bread. It is also an important Jewish symbol on food. Challah is a braided bedder, which we also call as Kosher. A plain dough is made with eggs, salt, water, flour and yeast for making the Challah. Since the bread uses so many eggs, the bread normally appears pale yellow, and it has an affluent flavor too.
‘Challah’ actually belongs to the small portion that we split from the bread dough as a remembrance of the Temple service, not the loaves themselves. At Rosh Hashana, separating challah is essential for every baker from the Jewish religion.
As we know that the Jewish symbols with names say something about them. Similarly, kipah is also symbolized for a reason. At Hebrew, the Jewish cap is labeled “Kipa,” or “covering,” signifying to show awareness of God around you and you will not walk around with a bare head. So, Jews wear a hat to distinguish them, and it also protects them. In the beginning, though, the Jews didn’t wear this little kipa.
The small circular cap on the top of the Jews’ head, also identified as Kippot(plural) or simply Kippah, has become the most noticeable emblem of the Jewish recognition. A yarmulke or kippah is a Jewish religious symbol for men. It is a traditionally worn brimless hat that is normally made of cotton and worn by the Jewish males to satisfy the normal obligation, which says that it is essential to cover the head.
It is worn at all times by the people who follow the orthodox cultures. Most people who wear them usually only do so during the prayer or other rituals. In Israel, they are mostly traditional Jews who are not following the Halacha rules. In the US, these are those who follow the non-orthodox communities.
In a nutshell, in Israel, you can identify which religious stream one belongs to according to the Kipah he wears. A knitted Kipa signifies belonging to the religious Zionist stream. A large knitted Kipa signifies strict adherence to the Jewish laws and the opposite of a small knitted Kippah.
The Black Kippah is a symbol of the ultra-Orthodox stream that historically opposed the Zionist project, and today most of it collaborates, with the exception of one Chassidic living in the United States. A white Kippah usually symbolizes secular Jews who rarely visit a synagogue.
If you’ve seen any man who belongs to the Jewish religion walking around in Russia with what looks like a relic of colder days, you will probably get to know about what is shtreimel (pronounced as shtry-mull). It is head attire. The shtreimel is a particular kind of fur hat which the Hasidic Jewish men wear on Shabbat, at the Jewish holidays, and many other festivities.
This fur hat can be worn at Shabbat and the Jewish holidays as well, such as on marriage occasions by an ample of married Haredi Jewish people, particularly by the communities of Hasidic members.
In Jerusalem, the shtreimel is frequently used by Jews from “Yerushalmi”.
The shtreimel is normally only worn at some point in marriage, except in certain societies in Yerushalmi whereby boys wear this from the bar mitzvah period.
Although Jewish males have a strong religious practice to hide their faces, there is no particular religious meaning to the shtreimel from the perspective of Jewish law as contrasting to other head coverings.
Nevertheless, it is believed that wearing double head covers adds additional religious value, plus the appearance of exquisite craftsmanship contributes beautification and prestige to the tradition. The shtreimel is often worn over a kippah or yarmulke. But, still, there’s a lot of doubt about the shtreimel’s roots.
19. Tzedakah box
Post-biblical Judaism was influenced by the sages and uses the term tzedakah for charity. It is famous for charity as Jewish symbols in the home. Tzedakah’s root word means “equality” and suggests welfare programs viewed by the rabbis as a question of social and economic justice. Rather than simply giving money to the poor people, tzedakah is more than this.
Tzedakah box, also recognized as the Yiddish term, pushke, means charity and raising cash. The tzedakah is a Hebrew word that is a symbol for justice, having its origin commencing the root Tzedek. Whereas, offering some essential resources and money to a needy person is considered as an act.
Before Shabbat, many families or societies create something to collect money using cans or boxes. Similarly, the entire collected amount is later given to needy persons or any organization of poor people.
Jewish culture states that offering tzedakah is spiritually imperative, particularly to those who have nothing to give. It is a tradition to place cash just before Shabbat, festivals, and other important events in a tzedakah box.
Holding a tzedakah box allows this activity to become simpler and demonstrates the importance of this mitsvah (divine obligation) to the youngsters. Certain households also consider their tzedakah beneficiary a monthly or annual family task to decide which small charity they will be making.
20. Mezuzah, the Jewish door symbol
The Jewish door symbol mezuzah simply means doorpost. Yet, it is represented as the scroll of the parchment on the doorpost, inscribed with the Deuteronomy similarly beginning with, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Some people interpret that Jewish law requires a mezuzah in each doorway in the home apart from bathrooms (which is not a living space), such as laundry rooms and closets if they are too small to be eligible as rooms.
The parchment of klaf is designed by a skilled scribe (“sofer stam”) who has been educated in the analysis of the related religious practices as well as in the more realistic sections, i.e. carving the quill & writing. The scriptures are printed in indelible black ink with a specific quill pen crafted from either a feather or a reed in what is now uncommon. Then the parchment is rolled up within the mounted case.
A “kosher” mezuzah made from the skin of a kosher animal is hand-written on authentic parchment. The sentences are carefully written by a highly trained scribe, known as a sofer, using specially made black ink or quill pen. The documents must be composed in compliance with halacha (Jewish Law) and all letters and vocabulary must be right.
21. Kiddush cup
Kiddush, often pronounced as Qiddush ( “sanctification” in Hebrew), is the Jewish blessings and prayer read aloud over a wine cup on the eve of the Sabbath or a festival just before the meal. The ceremony recognizes the holiness of the day that has just started.
The offering for wine (or grape juice) which venerates Shabbat requires holiness.
On a Friday night, the Kiddush is read aloud onto a full cup of grape juice or wine before sitting down for dinner for the Shabbat and previous to saying the Motzi, the blessing on the challah.
There are numerous Jewish symbols and what they mean, we should understand them. Therefore, also, to say about Kiddush, it has historically been recited by the adults.
Now, males or females are reciting the Kiddush in so many homes. The cup is circulated when the Kiddush is recited so that anyone can take a drink from it. Most families have a specific cup designated, for this reason, entitled a Kiddush cup.
22. Yad Torah pointer
A yad is a Jewish ceremonial pointer frequently referred to as a Torah guide, being used by the readers to track the reading from the parchment of the Torah scrolls.
On the other hand, it is an instrumental part of the kele kodesh, the holy instruments that adorn the Torah, which is Judaism’s sacred text.
Yad means “hand” in Hebrew: they seem to be pointers for having to read the Torah, that most tend to end up in the shape of a closed hand with an extended index finger.
23. Washing cup
There have been two main forms of ceremonial bathing or ablution within Judaism. A tevilah (almost) is full-body bathing as a ritual of cleansing, and a netilat yadayim that is a cup, used for handwashing.
The Hebrew Bible is something that is parallel to daily bathing and is expanded in the Mishnah and Talmud. They were formalized in different codes of Jewish law as well as tradition, like that of the Maimonides’s Mishneh. These traditions are most commonly found in orthodox Judaism. With some of these leniencies and exceptions, the practices are socially determined in progressive Judaism. The ceremonial bathing is not typically performed within reformed Judaism.
24. Havdala set
Havdalah set is a Judahttps://aboutjewishpeople.com/what-is-judaica/ica’s important element. People from the Jewish community begin to prepare for a new week on a Saturday night, just like there are three stars in the sky. Havdalah is a prayer, which is mainly translated as “separate.”
Havdalah is spoken as Kiddush which is about food, but it also contains a Havdalah lamp, besamim spices, and a multi-winded candle. Everybody raises their hands in the air to the Havdalah candle flame throughout the meditation and stares at the nails of their fingers. Staring at our hand’s nails, we see that thing which never stops from growing, just as we should keep growing in our practices, even in the new day. Besamim, typically cinnamon or clove, is then moved on to become apparent for everyone.
The smell of sweets is used in it as a relaxing agent for our souls. Shabbat is almost over once we finish by saying “Havdalah”, as well as the new week starts. An idea of Shabbat that we have is everything that should be different and special from the typical things of the week.
It is learned with the help of using certain elegant and bright candles and a special spice container instead of just using a standard candle. Of course, for the juice, we shouldn’t just be using a regular cup, just as you wouldn’t use this for Shabbat Kiddush. Havdalah collection is a good option for weddings.
25. Apple with Honey (Jewish New Year)
Rosh Hashanah’s holiday, the Jewish New Year, is a happy occasion observed throughout the world by the leaders of the religious group. Apple dipping in the honey has been one of Rosh Hashanah’s most noticeable rituals. The symbol of honey signifies as a sign of the anticipation ahead for a nice New Year.
The apple was selected as the fruit to be dipped into the honey because of its symbolic nature centuries ago on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah.
26. Oznei Haman
Hamantaschen or Oznei Haman is a delicious cookie made of a variety of fillings. This Jewish religious symbol picture is made in a triangular shape. Each cookie does have its distinct flavor, varying from strawberry to prunes, nut, cheese, apricot, raspberry, raisins, dulce de leche, apple, cherry, fruit preserves in a lekvar style, fig, chocolate, halva, caramel, or even dates.
The literal meaning implies “Haman’s Nose,” which in Purim’s narrative corresponds to the classic antagonist. Purim honors the Jewish people’s defense from the devastation of Haman’s trap in the Empires of Persian.
Oznei Haman’s design is created by folding a rectangular ball of dough on the edges, with stuffing in the core. Hamantashen is composed of a variety of different toppings. Their shape ranges from solid pastry to light doughy casings.
27. Chanukka Doughnut
One of the most rejoicing holidays in Jewish culture is Chanukah or Hanukkah. It goes back to two centuries before Christianity started. The festival is conducted and starts on Kislev’s 25th day. Hanukkah is being observed in December or November in the western calendar.
The term Hanukkah signifies commemoration and rededication in the fight of Jews for the freedom of religion. Deep-fried doughnuts and potato pancakes are the classical Hanukkah delights. Besides, fried food teaches Jews about the miracle of the candles and the oil that is continuously burned for about eight days. Besides, dairy products are frequently eaten during the Hanukkah.
28. Mazal tov
In Hebrew, when the Jews want to compliment other individuals, they commonly scream “Mazal Tov”. The term mazal tov signifies “good fortune.” In Hebrew, tov means “healthy” and mazal is an astrological word referring to the celestial stars and planets in the zodiac, which theoretically affects the human entities and decides their fate. Therefore, as we use “Mazal Tov” for others, we believe that the stars would be in their favor.
A kittel is a cotton robe or white linen carried on vacation, in the temple, or at home by devout Jewish people while conducting the seder of the Passover. It is also renowned as the Jewish symbol for Passover. The grooms wear Kittels on the occasion of their weddings.
A Kittel white robe is worn during High Holiday services by some women and men.Kittel is white to reflect the innocence by our prayers that we hope to attain in these holy days blessings. A kittel might also be worn underneath the chuppah (wedding canopy) at a wedding since it is also considered as a Jewish wedding symbol.
30. Women snood
A snood is a typical female headgear designed in a fabric or wool case to hold the hair. In the most usual form, the headgear looks like a close-fitting hood. Just as identical to a hairnet, generally snoods have a softer structure, an even coarser fabric, and an even thicker yarn.
A tighter-measured band will cover the front of the entire head, then pass through below the neck’s nape and behind the ears. A snood is often made using hard fabric, yet lightly knitted wool or other content like a net. Traditionally, a little bag of the fine thread his used — tatted, netted, crocheted, knitted, or knotted, but it’s still popular today.
31. The Four Species
The symbolism of the four species is quite important in the Sukkot’s Jewish celebration. In it, three styles of branches tie-up by Rabbinic Jews and together with one sort of fruit and in a special ceremony, wave them every day on the occasion of Sukkot holiday, bar Shabbat.
The four plants stream is a Torah, including an abstract of historical references to the work of God by a Jew. The sukkah is made with branches from the four defined plants in Karaite Judaism. Following is a traditional interpretation of the four species that are as follows
These four species speak about the troubles and the solutions to them, which we seek.
32. The holy arc décor
Ark, also known as Ark of the Torah, represents the Holies Holy of the historic Jerusalem Temple. It is one of the most sacred places in the synagogue, and hence is the centerpiece of worship.
Thus, you can also call it a Jewish synagogue symbol. When the scrolls are withdrawn, the crowd sits and the raising and closure of the ark doors are followed by a special ceremony.
If we follow the view from the Hebrew Bible, then the ark was built by the Israelites after fleeing Egypt, as they camped out in the Sinai Desert. However, we need to understand such Jewish religious symbols and meanings that are still illustrious.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the ark is most often identified by the amount of supposedly magical powers. There have been two historical tales that explain the ark’s creation and it is difficult to interpret the myths that accompany the ark.
Perhaps the most popular story was found in the Book of Exodus, explaining how the ark was constructed with a vast amount of gold. Contained in the Deuteronomy’s Bible, the second iteration explains briefly about the building of a wooden ark.
Jewish symbols conclusion
Many symbols have been linked with the Jewish culture, scholarship, and its people during the past. Many of them are believed to build a connection with God and make a happy and better place to live in this world.