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April 4, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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April 4, 2003
 

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PAGE 10 HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH g a Jewish necklace becomes a life-altering By Jodi Wemer hearts cut out along the sides. The face shimmered with a NEWTON, Mass. (JTA)-- collection of tightly packed Lately, more people than ever clear crystals. I quickly put it have been staring at my chest, on and have seldom taken it But it's not what you think, off since. Theyarelookingatanecklace A secular, nonpracticing hanging from my neck. Jew, Josh does not wear When my boyfriend, Josh, Judaica. Purchasing the neck- handedmearedpapermache- lace for me was therefore as wrappedlittleboxformybirth- selfless a gift as he could have day this year, I never would given. The necklace, he said, have guessed it was a piece of representedhissupportforme Judaica. But sure enough, in- working in the Jewish corn- side the boxwas a sparkly sil- munity, and his respect for my verandcrystalJewishstardan- willingness to move to a dif- gling from a chain. Unlike any ferent state in order to con- other I had seen, the star was tinue doing so. about 1/5-inch thick and had For me, the necklace has APRIL SHOWERS SPECIAL GUTTER CLEANING $10.00 off- present ad after estimate Call 407-357-7407 Offer expires 05 / 31 / 03 become a simultaneous ex-habituallyhasbeenanenlight- pression of romantic love and ening exercise; because of it, I religious identity- asynergy I have stumbled across many haveneverbeforeexperienced, new perspectives, like my I am excited to put it on each sister's. It has also led people to day. Like many Jewish girls, I make incorrect assumptions have amassed a serious about me - that l am an Ortho- amount of Judaica through- dox or traditionally observant out my life - chais, Magen Jew, that I am a staunch sup- Davids (Stars of David) and porter of Israeli military ac- chamsas (upside-down hands tions or that I keep strictly ko- believed by some to ward off sher. Though pieces of each of evil). Most of these pieces are the above hold true in the pendants and many of them nonsuperlativesense, thereare were given to me for my bat caveats and loopholes to each. mitzvah. But until recently, I Assumptions are dangerous had never worn any of them things for anybody to make, daily, but I would be ignorant not to I used to believe that wear- at least recognize that wearing ingareligioussymbolimplied this symbol will lead many an unconditional endorse- peopletomakethemaboutme. ment, like sticking a sports Wearing a Star of David has team logo or candidate's also helped me to work on car- bumper sticker on your car. inglessaboutwhatotherpeople Since a large part of my per- think of me and not needing sonal relationship with Juda- external approval as regularly. ism occurs internally- in my Even if I just wear the star as a head and my heart - how, I form of self-expression, there wondered, couldIwearasym- are people who are going to bol around my neck that pub- perceivethisactasself-promo- licly announces my religion to tion and dislike what I am pro- everyone else? rooting. I find it difficult to When I asked my sister why accept that some people are she wears Judaica, she said she going to misinterpret my in- hasneverquestionednotwear- tentions or worse, dislike or ing it. Symbols like the Magen even hate me simply because I David and the chai have been am Jewish. I do not wish to her constant accessories since hide or deny my religious iden- she was a little girl. "Judaica tity, but symbolically wearing advertises that I'm Jewish, that it daily on my chest, (or, if I I'm committed to being Jew- were a man, wearing it on my ish," she said. "It never both- head in the form ofa kipah or ered me to wear Judaica, so hanging it out as fringes along there was never a point for me my sides), signals me loudly as where I decided to wear it. I "other"andpotentiallyasatar- justdid."Wcaringthenecklace get for hatred. 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Assisted Facility License #9786 360 (407) 786-5637 Montgomery Road, Altamonte Springs, www.merrillgardens.com FL 32714 When I hesitate about wear- of David has only taken on ing the star, however, I think symbolicrepresentationofJe backtoa not-too-distant atroc- ish identity and the ity - the Holocaust. Jewish peoplehood in Whatever anti-Semitism and two hundred resulting paranoiawe may be it had been, among oth experiencing in this country things, "the insignia of today, we still possess the free- vidual families or communi dom to express our religious ties." In fact, according and cultural identities. There Frankel and Teutsch is a big difference between the Herzl chose it as the symbol: threat of oppressive violence the state of Israel because and the reality of it. While it is was widely considered to be a only a threat and freedom con- secular symbol. tinues, we have the right, per- At the Upper West Side store haps the obligation, to express of Alex Gordon Jewelers our heritage and ourselves. Manhattan In a generation from now, I Kumarexplainedwhy heweare wonder, what will this star a Star of David. Kumarisfrot* around my neck mean to me? India, butwears his star, an l& What will it mean to the Jewish carat gold necklace with a ti , people? As with most symbols, cross in the center, becausel its meaning will likely change considers it a symbol of over time. On this year's first gion and great leadership, t anniversary of the destruction wife brought it back for of the World Trade Center's when she traveled to twin towers, I looked closely at "David was a servant of the American flag, which, after the beloved king of a long break has again has be- said. "He was a great come a symbol of national and king." Chana, a pride. I also listened raptly to saleswoman at the words of the Gettysburg Judaica Address as Gov. George Pataki Side, said wearing (R-N.Y.) read them on televi- cultural and generational sion. tice. from these honored dead "My mother wears we take increased devotion to David, so I wear one that cause for which they here Chana also gave the last full measure of symbolic expression adds devotion -that we here highly extra dimension to reli resolve that these dead shall practice. "Being not have died in vain; that this shows that I'm Jewish," nation shall have a new birth added, "but wearing a of freedom; and that this gov- ernment of the people, by the ItsymbolizesJudaismandt people, for the people, shall I'm t not perish from the earth, discovering these histori Perhaps symbols like the which are only a GettysburgAddress, theAmeri- piing of the long can flag and the Star of David history of the Star of are as important for what they will come to mean to us, or interpretation of the star have meant to us in the past, as David. AS I wear it today, they are for what they mean to us at the present moment, sents the answers I have Gershom Scholem, one of find - the cultural, the greatest kabbalistic schol- and religious identity Iarrl! ars ofthiscentury, wrote in the forging. Encyclopedia Judaica that his- The balanced torically, the Star of David has triangles symbolize had a proliferation of mean- struggle between ings, many of which have been flection and mystical. In the past year I have i In the 17th century, he from being single, writes, alchemists called the Boston and editin Magen David the "shield of that speaks to a David" and they believed the young opposing triangles to be an al- halfofa two- chemical symbol for the union ing in New York and between the diametrically op- as an individual writer posed elements of water and spiritualand religiousj fire. At that same time, When I look at it, Kabbalists were calling it the aroundmyneckreminds "shield of the [Messiah], the the many ways in son of David." Also, according personal identities have to Ellen Frankel and Betsy modified. Platkin Teutsch in The Ency- AS time moves on and clopediaofJewishSymbols, the sume new roles Star of David's geometric sym- sure new symbolic metry has led"anthropologists will continue to unfold. [to] claim that the triangle Jodi pointing downward represents female sexuality, and the tri- Jewish angle pointing upward, male and former editor sexuality; thus, theircombina- GenerationJ.com. tion symbolizes unity and har- From GenerationJ.cora, mony." Interestingly, the Star Scene Around Continued from page 9 And second The Altamonte Jazz Ensemble, under direction of ,:1# ARENA, will present a wonderful musical program for verY j' money. It takes place on Sunday, April 6 also startin Winter Springs High School Auditorium, 130 Winter Springs (off East sr 434). , Featured will be singers, LISA KELLY and LINDA - budaY, one of the most exciting trumpet players ever, my SCOTT. The Cost of the event is only $5. (That's because the ! is funded in part by the Seminole Cultural Arts For further details, call 407-322-7528. RETIREMENT & ASSISTED LIVING