Monday, May 15, 2006

Magen David

After reading Uri Ofir's research about the origin of the Jewish Star of David my friend Avinoam Damari sent me a poem in Hebrew which I translate and publishe here - before the original poem will be published on a Hebrew website. I guess that's some kind of a precedent...

The Nation Knew the Shield Patch
David, Jakob, Israel facing the human oppressor
The nation knew the liberty flag
All the names were gathered to make a state.

Shield has a shape thousands of years old
Menorah, 40 years in Jewish desert
Sacred dwelling of a wise knowledgeable king
One menorah and ten white lilies.

Only in the holy land white lily grows
Six points the scent of kingship
Wonder menorah made by the Lord
Entered as an image of Magen David into a coin.

Cohen, Levy, king, prophet and the founder of the state
Knew sward, trial, wheat and water in the wilderness
Nation found a country deserted from symbol and model
Stranger's gate that imprinted the shield of kingship.

Fire, air, water, earth, these are the points
Man and the woman intertwined together for ever
Upper point looks at dreams and emotions
Lower point seizes the earth in purity and dirt.

Winds blow with direction and wisdom
One who will look will recognize a scent and a flavor
Hidden corner no one knows
Hidden deity hides a secret from human eye.

Magen David from immemorial code tabernacle and Menorah
Magen David from a flower, noble lily
Magen David before the sage's interpretations and applause
Magen David raised high in the flag Jews for ever will salute

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Synagogue

Professor Jonathan Sarna wrote about the Star of David on his book American Judaism: A History (ISBN 0-300-10197-x) that German immigrants brought the star of David with them to America, and in 1845 it was built into the windows of the new Baltimore Hebrew Congregation synagogue building (pp. 106-07).
This is a clear cut answer to the question: when did this symbol arrive to America. I had less luck finding when did this symbol arrive to Yemen (although I called up a research center of the Yemenite Jews in Natania) or to the Cochin Jews (although I called their museum in Nevatim). 

1845, Architect: Robert Cary Long
Lloyd Street Synagogue, Baltimore