Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Tattoo Controversy

I already wrote about Star of David tattoos but since then I learned that this phenomenon is [1] growing and [2] becoming more and more controversial. People want to take part in the debate. Michael Lerner, 42, New York-born who made aliyah to Israel in 1985, has a Web site titled Tattoos are Not for Jews. Soon enough he got a letter from an angry opponent:

"Why should the Nazi's have been the last ones to make a statement regarding Jews and tattoos? I love my Star of David tattoo. It is much better than gold, which could be lost or stolen".

Marisa Carnesky, 32, is a British performance artist. She is heavily tattooed and pierced. She has a solo show titled Jewish Tattooess. 

So, my dear reader, where do you stand? Do you have a tattoo already? Is it in the shape of the Star of David; the shape that can tolerate two opposite sides of a hot argument without breaking down.

Marc Chagall

Star of David framing Hebrew letters in 
Marc Chagall's 
"The Pinch of Snuff" 1912


Jewish artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985) came from a Hassidic family and that's why critics assume that paintings contain symbols such as the Star of David. In the Nazi period Chagall became a model of the "degenerate artist" and his
  "Most famous painting at the time, "The Pinch of Snuff," featuring a Rabbi and a Star of David, was dragged through the streets and exposed to public ridicule".
 In the Knesset (the Israeli parliament building) there's a hall, which is used for state receptions where Chagall designed a floor of mosaics. One of the main subjects described in this mosaic is the Star of David. It seems that this symbol is appreciated so highly that it enters naturally to the most distinguished and representational places in the country.
 The Knesset offers guided tours on Sundays and Thursdays between the hours of 8:30AM-2:30PM.
I hope to join one of these groups in the near future and take a picture of this work if it's allowed.

Messianic Shield

Nobody knows how the original Shield of David looked like in the past: It was never found in any dusty excavation; It was never painted or drawn by eyewitnesses. There isn't any written testimony about its look. All we have are modern versions about how it COULD HAVE BEEN LOOKED LIKE; for example the rectangular model Uri Ofir made for his exhibition titled MikraOr; or Arthur Szyk's lithograph entitled Israel (printed in 1949) in which we see Bar Kochba sitting next to a big blue Magen David holding in his hand a round shield with a yellow Star of David on a blue round background.

One of the theories about the origin of the Star of David is that during the Bar Kochba rebellion against the Romans in 70 C.E. a new technology was developed for shields so that behind the shield there were two interlocking triangles.

The translation of the Hebrew name Bar Kochba is the "son of the star". (His real name was Simon ben Cozeba, spelled also as Shimeon Bar Kosiba).

According to Jewish messianic expectations the Messiah is an offspring from the house of David. No wonder that in the past when a Messiah presented himself to the people he connected himself to the Shield of David. That was the case with Bar Kochba; that was the case with the Southern Iraqi Jew David Al Roy (aka Menachem Ben Shlomo), who started in the twelfth century a Jewish crusade aimed at conquering Israel by force of arms. That was the case with Shabbatai Zvi (1626-1676) who adopted the Magen David as his principle emblem.

The next Messiah will ride on a white donkey and I'm sure that in his hand there will be…a Shield of David.