Oh, Israel. What a month it’s been for you and me. I lost a lot of fans this month because of my love for you. But it’s OK. I love you more than popularity, even when you make me crazy. And even though I don’t always agree with Israeli policy, I’m still a Zionist.
With all that we have been through this past month, I truly, deeply, for the first time understood why Jews who previously hadn’t worn yarmulkes started wearing them in the United States after the Yom Kippur War in 1973, when an Arab Coalition led by Syria and Egypt attacked Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish year. As we had been for thousands of years, in 1973, Jews were being attacked simply for being.
In the middle of the conflicts in Israel and Gaza this month, and in the middle of the virulent attacks I was coming under on social media, I put on my Magen David–my Star of David necklace–and it strangely felt like putting on armor. It felt like a statement. Gold armor around my neck: the way I show that I am Jewish and that I am not afraid to be so.
Here’s a little tour of the Magen Davids I own and wear.
1. Here is my standard gold Magen David. I don’t typically like gold jewelry, but for some reason, a gold Magen David has always worked for me.
2. I don’t usually wear any fancy jewelry at all but my parents got me this Tiffany & Co. one for my high school graduation. It is a real diamond Magen David. It gets a lot of compliments.
3. My first boyfriend got me this small Magen David which I used to wear on a satin cord because it was the 90s and that was “in.” Now I wear it on a dog tag-style military chain with a “feig,” an Eastern European amulet for warding off evil spirits, which I got in the Old City in Jerusalem about 15 years ago.
4. Here’s a unique Jewish star I was sent made out of the body of a man and woman (available on Etsy here)!
5. Here is an Ethiopian Jewish star, a rose quartz and mother of pearl Jewish star, and another Jewish star with rose quartz that, as a teenager, I strung with some ceramic beads. This was my “I’m going on a Jewish camp retreat weekend” Jewish star because in the 90s, it was all that and more! (Or so I thought.)
6. I also collect Jewish star charms and amulets to wear on chains or just to keep in a cluster because I like keeping things and I especially like collecting Jewish things! Here are a few I have in my collection.
Magen David literally translates to Shield of David. The historical King David defeated a giant when he was just a boy, a shepherd even. He was not from a line of kings. He was a flawed hero: He sent a man to the front lines of a war so he could seduce the man’s wife. He was not perfect. But he was the first king to unify Israel. He was a poet, credited with writing the Psalms of the Old Testament.
I wear a Magen David because I am not too small to fight. I am not from too modest an origin to rise up and try to inspire in my own small way. I am not too boastful to be humbled, and I am not so right that I can never be wrong.
That’s the legacy I hail from. That’s what it means to me to wear my Jewish star.
With the Emmys approaching, I have decided that I want to have something “Jewish” as part of my Emmy ensemble. I can’t step on the designer’s toes at this stage of the game and have a giant Jewish star emblazoned on the front of the dress or anything, but I need to do something.
Two years ago, I wore a custom designed mezuzah to the Emmys, and this year, I think I want to incorporate a small Jewish star to one of the cuffs of the dress, even if it’s not noticeable to everyone all of the time.
I will know it’s there. It will give me strength and protection and courage. Most of all, it will give me pride.