Friday, June 09, 2006

Mizrach decoration

 Mizrach decoration magen David

Star of David on a Mizrach decoration Image is copied from Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906)


The Mizrach  (Hebrew for east) is a decorative sign that Jews who lived in exile in the west hang on an eastern wall within their homes or their synagogues in order to remind them to face Jerusalem and the Temple Mount while praying (see: Talmud Berachot 30). This decoration includes usually the Hebrew word "Mizrach".

Basically this idea appears in the Israeli national anthem Hatikvah:


As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,

With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,

Then our hope - the two-thousand-year-old hope - will not be lost:

To be a free people in our land,

The land of Zion and Jerusalem


Sometimes the Mizrach decoration includes a Star of David. IMHO this shows how strong is the connection between the concepts of "East" and "Zion" since the Star of David Symbolizes Zion.  

Yellow Badge

Yellow Badge
Photo courtesy of Daniel Ullrich, Threedots, who took it at the exhibition in the Jewish Museum Westphalia, Dorsten, Germany and put it on the Wikimedia Commons.
The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
As part of its ferocious anti-Semitism, Nazi Germany tried to disparage the star, forcing its Jewish citizens to wear it as a yellow badge - the Judenstern (Jewish Star) as it was called.
It seems appropriate to mention here a poem written in 1942 in occupied Paris, after the Germans ordered the Jews to wear the yellow badge. The poem was written by a Russian Gentile, Elizabeth Skovzovah, who had emigrated to Paris after World War I. Working for the anti-Nazi underground, she was known as "Mother Mary". Her poem (translated from the Russian) follows:
Two triangles forming a star
Magen David—Shield of David
Shield of the Fathers—not a disgrace
A great gift—not a disaster.

Again they persecute you, Israel,
but what will the plots of Belial achieve
when in the lightning of the Sinai
God answers you again from above?

Therefore, awaken, you who have upon you the sign,
the Magen David, shield and symbol,
Learn to stand up in the battle of the generation
Against the sign of bondage, slavery and suffering.
However, not only Nazi-Germany denigrated the six-pointed star. In the Communist countries it was repressed, too, or it got disfigured where it could not be removed, as e.g. in the "Jewish House" at the Rumanian town of Czernovitz. There, all the two hundred hexagrams of its banister were disfigured during the Stalin era: