Jewish symbols

What Everyone Ought To Know About Jewish Symbols

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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. Jewish or Judaism religion is one of the oldest religions in the world 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 not just a ritual religion but a religion that encompasses all circles of life and guides its believers on how to behave in every situation in life. Apart from detailed religious guidance, Judaism is a whole worldview about the essence of existence, to the role of a human being in the world, his relationship with his family, with his friends, teachers, and God. 

Judaism is very morally demanding and sets a high standard of conduct to be strived for, even if one fails. Judaism guides man in his childhood, in adulthood until the end of his life. It marks for him the main thing and gives meaning to his life

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Judaism is the main religion followed and practiced by the Jewish 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, they will have to go through a conversion process.

Some of the Jewish symbol lists 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 items, and this branch is called Judaica. An article on this website 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 we have spelled out these essential parts of Judaism.

1.     Torah scroll

The Torah scroll is a very famous Jewish symbol. It is a long scroll, attached to two sticks on both sides, and is rolled on both rods, and is covered with a cloth or wooden cover. The contents of the Torah scroll include the five Pentateuch’s, which are the first, most important, and oldest part of the Bible. 

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The contents appear in sequence, without division into books, chapters and verses. The substrate on which the Torah is written is processed cowhide and the cow is of course a kosher animal to eat according to Jewish law. 

Not every person can write a Torah scroll but only a person whose field of specialization is called “Sofer Stam.”

Jews living in Europe used to cover the Torah scroll with a sheet of cloth. Jews living in North Africa used to install the Torah scroll inside a special wooden box. Torah scrolls are stored inside the ark that exists in every synagogues. 

Three times a week, on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, the Ark is opened, and a Torah scroll is taken out and read. Writing an average Torah scroll can cost $ 50,000 and even more, because of the slow and meticulous writing. Individuals with means sometimes donate a Torah scroll to a synagogue and commemorate their loved ones who have passed away through the Torah scroll. 

Sometimes, this will be an entire community that will fund the writing of the Torah scroll. Bringing a Torah scroll to the synagogue will always be a festive event accompanied by songs and dances. A Torah scroll that has been irreparably worn out, buried in the ground. Never throw in the trash, but bury.

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 Tablets 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 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 finger of God engraves the initial set in the tablet.

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 Moses writes both

Jewish symbols and meanings
Moses breaks the Tablets of the Covenant

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.

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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.

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Israel official symbol

According to the biblical story, the Menorah already existed in the tabernacle built by the Israelites after they left Egypt. They used it for religious worship, which was later conducted in the Temple.

The priests who worked in the Temple lit its candles every evening. After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans moved the Menorah to Rome, and its traces have since disappeared.

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. Today the Menorah is one of the most important symbols of the Jewish people, and it stands at the heart of the official symbol of the State of Israel.

Signifying Judaism, later, it became a famous 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.

jewish menorah symbol meaning
The Menorah became the formal symbol of the state of Israel

4.     Menorah for Chanukkah - Chanukiyah

A menorah for Hanukkah is called Chanukiya (in Hebrew), and the Jews use it once a year on Hanukkah, which takes place in December, close to Christmas, sometimes right along with it (The date changes are related to the fact that the Jewish calendar is lunar). The difference between the menorah that was in the Temple, which is now used as a symbol of the State of Israel, and the menorah that is used for Hanukkah, is the number of branches.

The Menorah that was in the temple had seven branches, and the Menorah of Hanukkah has nine branches, eight branches, and a beadle (Shamash in Hebrew), that is, one cane through which the others are lit. The remaining eight branches symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah.

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According to Jewish tradition, in the second century BC, after the victory of the Jews over the Greek Empire that ruled the Land of Israel, the Jews wanted to return and light the Temple lamp. Still, the oil left in a small jug was only enough for one day. 

It took eight days to make new oil, and then the miracle happened, and the little jar was enough for eight days. That is why the menorah for Chanuka (Chanukiah) has eight branches, and the Jews light eight candles on Hanukkah.

As you can see in its carvings, the Menorah has seven branches, like the Temple lamp. Sometimes people like to buy these Jewish symbol Menorah as ‘Judaica,’ which is a symbol of Judaism and can also be used as a decorative item. They are typically not only used to hold candles. A Jewish symbol for the Hanukkah Menorah is purposely made for the Chanukkah holiday observance.

Hanukkah Greetings: You can say “Hanukkah Sameach!” which is used for the purpose to wish someone a Happy Hanukkah, or a Happy Holiday only 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.

Menorah for Chanukah
Menorah for Chanukah (Chanukiya in Hebrew)

5.     The Seven Species

Jewish symbol - seven species
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 earth, the traditional berakah (blessing) quickly 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. 

The Star of David is relatively new and became a distinctly Jewish symbol only in the 14th century. It has existed as a symbol for thousands of years in various cultures, especially in East and South Asia. It can also be seen today in Nepal and India, usually in the context of educational institutions. Christians and Muslims also used the symbol even before it became the symbol of the Jews.

In the 14th century, Emperor Charles IV allowed Jews to choose a flag and wave it. The Jews chose the Star of David symbol, and since that moment, the Star of David has become a distinctly Jewish symbol. The Zionist movement adopted it, and since then, the Star of David has appeared in the center of the flag of the State of Israel.

sacred symbol of Judaism
The most common and famous Jewish symbol: Star of David

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 famous Hebrew symbol, the same as the other Jewish symbols, with loads of applications and plaques, sculptures, tapestries, and paintings.

The symbol is prevalent in jewelry or Jewish gifts. It is also a famous Hebrew symbol in the context of donations. In gematria, the Hebrew word Chai (חי) equals 18, so when Jews donate money to various charitable causes, they like to do so in multiples of eighteen.

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8.     Hamsa

Jewish symbol hamsa is a defending sign. It has been worn as an amulet, well-known since the ancient 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.

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The Hamsa, or Jewish symbol of hand, has a wide assortment of names, including 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.

Hamsa symbol will protect you from bad luck or "bad eye" of other people

9.     Talit

Talit is considered as a unique garment in the view of kabbalists, which inspires us explicitly 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 during the morning prayers (Shacharit). 

During the noon and evening prayers, only the cantor wears a tallit. The grooms also wear tallit Gadol in marriages (mainly of religious Jews). Therefore, it is also considered as a Jewish marriage symbol.

10. Tzitzit

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 an everyday.

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 to remind God’s commandments.

11. Tefillin

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 to accomplish the verse.

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Jewish boys put on tefillin for the first time at the bar mitzvah ceremony

Tefillin is believed to be a very 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.

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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.

12. Dreidels

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.

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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. There is a reason 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 exceptionally well because of their white color.

Dove and olive - a Jewish symbol of peace

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. It is why the dove turns out to be famous as a Jewish symbol of peace and is thus spread everywhere.

14. Shofar

The Jewish symbol, Shofar, is most often used during the Jewish New Year day, Rosh Hashana. A Shofar is an old musical instrument, typically made from a horn of a ram, which is used for Jewish religious purposes. There are no pitch alteration devices in the Shofar which affect the pitch of the player’s voice.

Judaism symbol of faith
Blowing the Shofar at the Western Wall

The Jewish symbols for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are also a notable thing. The Shofar is blown on Rosh Hashanah’s morning prayer, in the synagogue, and is blown at the very end of Yom Kippur; also every weekday in Elul’s month (the month before Rosh Hashanah). Shofars are available in various sizes and forms depending entirely on the animal choice and finish level.

According to Jewish tradition, the blowing of the Shofar symbolizes several things. The first purpose of blowing the Shofar is to inspire the hearers to repent, make people stop and think about the bad things they did during the previous year and strive to correct them in the coming year. It is the meaning of repentance, of being a better person than you were before.

The second purpose of blowing the shofar is to make God king over the world, not because God needs us to make him king, but to make us accept him as the supreme ruler of the universe. 

The third purpose is to mention one of the most significant events in the Torah: the Binding of Isaac. Remember, according to God’s command, Abraham removed Isaac from the altar after he had already bound him and prepared him for sacrifice, and in his place sacrificed a deer that got stuck in the thicket of bushes with its horns.

The horn is reminiscent of the deer horn and the whole event and the blowing of the shofar “reminds” God of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice for God what is most precious to Abraham, thus arousing God’s mercy on us and forgiving us for evil deeds we have done in the past year

15. Western wall

Due to its link with the Temple Mount, the Western Wall is 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 prayer, it lies as the holiest place in the Jewish faith.

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Women prayer in the Western Wall

The Western Wall, in 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 the 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. It is not permitted to have bare shoulders, trousers, or else short skirts. While praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Jewish prayer shawls, Talit, are worn by men.

16. Challah bread cover

Challah is braided bread, usually straight and sometimes round. Challah is tastier than bread, which is why Jews eat challah on Shabbat, as part of the honor of Shabbat. On Friday evening, before Shabbat begins, the Shabbat table is arranged on which Shabbat meals are eaten. 

Round Challah cover
Shabbat table, Jewish mother and daughter lighting candles for Shabbat meal

On the table are placed a kiddush cup, candlesticks, and candles, a tray with challahs covered with a unique challah cover for Shabbat. After the prayer, return home, sanctify the wine and bless the challah, and each member of the household receives a small piece of challah. 

Also, Challah is part of a Jewish ceremony called “Dough offering” (Hafrashat Challa). The mitzvah of Dough offering is a mitzvah for women. They are requested to separate a piece of Dough from the Dough they have prepared for bread for their families.

While the temple existed, a small portion of the dough was given to priests (Kohanim) who worked in the temple and were not allowed to accumulate property. Although the temple was destroyed, the custom of dough offering continues even today.

The challah also symbolizes the recognition that all we have is from God. When we make dough for bread, we set aside a small portion for God in honor of the gifts He gives us by His grace. The secreted dough is burned and not used for baking.

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17. Kipa

The Kipah is one of the most distinctive Jewish symbols. Unlike Menorah or tefillin or mezuzah, the Kipah is worn on the head all the time. And so the Kipah is like a sign declaring: Here is a Jew. If in the not-too-distant past (mid-nineteenth century), almost all Jews wore headscarves, today only religious Jews wear a kippah.

In Hebrew, the Jewish cap is labeled “Kipah,” 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. 

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 made of cotton and worn by the Jewish males to satisfy the regular obligation, which says that it is essential to cover the head.

In the past, the head covering was mandatory for all Jews, everywhere in the world. There were different types of head covering depending on the usual dress drivers in each area, but they all wore some head covering. Today, only religious Jews adhere to the Kippah or hat. Those who are not religious wear Kippah, usually only during the prayer or other religious rituals. 

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 means strict adherence to the Jewish laws and the opposite of a small knitted Kippah.

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 An IDF soldier prays with tefillin (and knitted kippah) in the 2006 Lebanon War. The officer is Lieutenant Asael Lubotzky. He was seriously wounded in the war. His story was published in the book From the Wilderness and Lebanon by Yedioth Ahronoth recounting his personal experiences from the Second Lebanon War (author: Yoavlemmer)

The Black Kippah is a symbol of the ultra-Orthodox stream that historically opposed the Zionist project. Today, most of it collaborates, except one Chassidic group living in Jerusalem and the United States. A white Kippah usually symbolizes secular Jews who rarely visit a synagogue.

Yeshiva students wearing black Kippah

18. Shtreimel

If you’ve seen any man who belongs to the Jewish religion walking around in Jerusalem, Brooklyn, or other Ultraorthodox neighborhoods 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 in 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.

Chasidic jew wearing Shtreimel

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 Hassidic groups such as Toldot Aharon, Satmar, Karlin, and more. 

The shtreimel usually is only worn at some point in marriage, except in certain Hasidic societies in whereby boys wear this from the bar mitzvah period. 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 used 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.

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A tzedakah box is mounted on an outside wall in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem

Tzedakah box, also recognized as the Yiddish term, pushke, means charity and raising cash. The tzedakah is a Hebrew word that symbolizes 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 accumulated amount is later given to needy persons or any organization of poor people.

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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 essential events in a tzedakah box.

Holding a tzedakah box allows this activity to become simpler and demonstrates the importance of this mitzvah (divine obligation) to the youngsters. Individual 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 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.

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The parchment of klaf is designed by a skilled scribe (“sofer stam”) who has been educated in analyzing the related religious practices and 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 to know and to understand. Therefore, also, to say about Kiddush, it has historically been recited by the adults. Now, males or females are repeating the Kiddushin in so many homes. 

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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

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Yad Torah pointer, when reading the Torah scroll

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. Jewish Washing cup

There have been two primary forms of ceremonial bathing or ablution within Judaism. The first one is a tevilah, full-body bathing as a ritual of cleansing. The second is Netilat Yadayim, which is hand washing, with the Jewish washing cup.

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According to Jewish law, different situations require washing hands with washing cup.

  • While getting up in the morning, it is mandatory to take hands without a blessing. Hand washing is done at the bedside.
  • Before eating a meal that has bread in it, it is obligatory to wash hands with blessings and then bless the bread as well before eating it.
  • During the morning prayer, there is a prayer section called Priestly Blessing (Birkat Kohanim in Hebrew). Jews with the surname Cohen (Jews who are descendants of priests who were in the Temple) bless the people of Israel. Before the blessing, the priests (Kohanim) go outside the synagogue, and the Levites (Jews with the surname Levi) wash their hands.
  • When visiting the cemetery, it is mandatory to wash hands before leaving the cemetery.

24. Havdala set

Havdalah set is a Judaica’s essential element. Religious and traditional Jewish people mark the end of Shabbat just when there are three stars in the sky. Havdalah is a prayer, which is mainly translated as “separate.”

The short Havdala ceremony marks the separation between light and darkness and between holy and profane. The ritual combines the blessings of three things: multi-winded candle, perfume, and wine. Everybody raises their hands in the air to the Havdalah candle flame and stares at the nails of their fingers to differentiate between the fingers representing the essential things in life and the nails that represent the less important.

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The smell of sweets is used in it as a relaxing agent for our souls. According to the Kabbalah, at the beginning of Shabbat, we receive an “additional” soul that causes us to be uplifted and mentally transcended during Shabbat. On Saturday night, the “additional” soul leaves us and makes us feel depressed and sad. 

To help the soul regain its strength, we smell perfume during the Havdala ceremony. It is customary to smell cloves or basil. After the Havdalah, all the mitzvot that apply to Shabbat end, and Jews return on weekdays until the following Shabbat

25. Apple with Honey (Jewish New Year)

Rosh Hashanah is one of the significant events in the Jewish calendar. It not only marks the beginning of the new year but marks a time of mental awakening and a mental reckoning for the deeds we have done in the past year. 

We apologize to those we have hurt and asking God for forgiveness for the evil deeds we have done. According to Jewish tradition, on Rosh Hashanah, God judges all human beings and decides what their fate will be next year. Three things can change God’s decision and our destinies: repentance, prayer, and charity. Repentance is behavior improvement. Before the holiday, Jews pray “Selichot,” which means request forgiveness from God.

In doing so, we hope God will forgive us and let us continue to live in good health. On the eve of the holiday, there is a festive meal, and during dinner, it is customary to eat foods that symbolize different things. The most famous dish on Rosh Hashanah is an apple with honey. 

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It is customary to dip a piece of apple in a bowl of honey and wish each other a happy and sweet New Year (Shana Tova Ve-Metuka in Hebrew). The combination of the sweetness of the apple together with the sweetness of the honey symbolizes the variety of the good that is in ordinary life and the good that comes as a result of overcoming the difficulties and challenges that are in life.

26. Oznei Haman

According to Jewish tradition, as narrated in the Book of Esther in the Bible, during the reign of King Ahasuerus in Persia, his wife Vashti refused to attend the party he held, and the king expelled her from the palace. The one who raised her, Mordecai, the Jew, sat at the entrance of the castle out of concern for Esther. 

At that time, the most powerful man in King Ahasuerus’ palace was Haman. A consultant whose strength has grown. Haman, or as the Jews call him, the evil Haman, hated Mordecai because he sat at the gate of the king’s palace, and every time Haman passed there, everyone bowed to Haman except Mordecai the Jew who refused to do so. The evil Haman was very angry with him.

Taking advantage of his growing power, he decided to exterminate all the Jews in the kingdom of Ahasuerus and obtained the king’s permission to do so. Queen Esther succeeded in changing the evil of the decree after the king’s order had already been issued and allowed the extermination of all the Jews. Ahasuerus allowed the Jews to defend themselves. And indeed it was. 

Jewish symbols for life
A tasty Jewish symbol 🙂

The fate of Haman and the Jews was reversed. For Haman, it was turned upside down, and for the Jews, it was turned for better. From then until today, the Jews celebrate Purim and, during the holiday, read the Book of Esther, which tells the story of the rescue of the Jews. One of the famous holiday customs is eating Oznei Haman.

The literal meaning implies “Haman’s ears,” 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.

Hamantaschen or Oznei Haman is a delicious cookie made of a variety of fillings. It 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.

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

As mentioned earlier in the Hanukkah menorah symbol, Hanukkah is celebrated because of the victory of the Jews over the Greek Empire, a victory that symbolized the triumph of freedom over slavery, the victory of good over evil, and also because of the small oil jug miracle that lit the Temple Menorah for eight days. A reminder of it done with the little jug of oil is customary to eat foods fried in oil, Deep-fried doughnuts, and potato pancakes, both are the classical Hanukkah delights. Fortunately, this is the only holiday where we tend to eat foods meant to remind us of oil.  

Chanukka Doughnut, simple and tasty. Very tasty.

28. Mazal tov

In Hebrew, when the Jews want to compliment other individuals, they are commonly saying “Mazal Tov.” The term mazal tov signifies, “good fortune.” In Hebrew, tov means “good,” and mazal is luck. It’s 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 wish them good luck. Some believe that the stars would be in their favor.

Did you notice the Mazal Tov in David Guetta’s song?

29. Kittel

The groom wearing a Kittel at his wedding

A Kittel is seamless white linen or seamless cotton robe. It is a traditional Jewish dress of Ashkenazi Jews. In North African and Yemen, Jews did not use to this. It is reminiscent of shrouds that wrap the dead in them. Thus the kettle reminds a person of his end and awakens him to repentance.

The Kittel is usually worn on all kinds of occasions such as Saturday evening, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Seder night, and weddings. The kettle is designed to give a person a perspective about life, their end that awaits every human being, and inspires him what to focus primarily.

Another symbolism is in the white color of the Kittel. It is white to reflect the innocence by our prayers that we hope to attain in these holy days blessings. 

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 stiff 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 four species are four plants that the Torah commanded to bind together on the Feast of Sukkot. The four species are the Etrog (citrus fruit), Lulav, myrtle, and willow.

According to Jewish law, it is obligatory to unite the four species and carry them during the holiday, during the morning prayer. In one of the prayer passages, take the four species, bless them and shake them in the direction of the four winds of heaven and then up and down.

During the Temple period, the religious obligation applied only to the first day of the holiday (out of seven days). After the destruction of the Temple, Jewish law obligated the mitzvah on all days of the holiday, that is, seven days.

The four species symbolize gathering the grain and fruit from the fields and orchards, a period of joy. According to Judaism, precisely in such a period, man tends to see the material part of his life as the main thing, which will lead him to neglect the spiritual aspect and forget God. Therefore commanded him to take the four species and incorporate them in the holiday prayer to remember well his role in the world and who gave him his livelihood.

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 Torah scrolls are taken out of the Holy Ark, the crowd sits, and a special ceremony follows the raising and closure of the ark doors.

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 isn’t easy to interpret the myths that accompany the ark.

The holy arc décor

Perhaps the most famous 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

Judaism is the first monotheistic religion globally and is one of the oldest religions in the world. For thousands of years, many symbols were added to the Jewish people, based on various events. The Jewish symbols are a rich cultural mosaic that, in multiple ways, represents Jewish culture. 

The Jewish symbol list, some fixed all year round, some appearing less frequently, are meant to give perspective to the essential things in life, to remind us of the good in life, the appreciation of gratitude, and the importance of striving for continual improvement.

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4 thoughts on “What Everyone Ought To Know About Jewish Symbols”

  1. What i do not realize is in reality how you’re not really much more well-preferred than you may be now. You’re very intelligent. You recognize thus significantly in terms of this subject, produced me for my part consider it from numerous various angles. Its like women and men don’t seem to be involved unless it is something to do with Lady gaga! Your individual stuffs outstanding. All the time deal with it up!

  2. Thanks for your interesting informations about Jew’s culture. For its origins Judaism looks to the biblical covenant made by G-d with Abraham, and to the laws revealed to Moses and recorded in the Torah.
    What you wrote it was fascinating to me. I went to Israel and spent time at the Hebew University researching about the diaspora of Jews to Spain. I found out about my grandfather who was Jew. I never meet him. In my heart is love for the Jewish people. I read every information concerning their history.

    Thanks.
    Flordelisa Mota
    American writer

    1. Thanks. Surely it was a great experience for you to study in Jerusalem.
      As far as I know, according to the Israeli law, you are entitled to Israeli citizenship because of your grandfather

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