Jewish Symbols of Healing
Symbols

Jewish Symbols of Healing

I received a question about Jewish symbols of healing, and it seems like a good time for a post on the subject. There are three primary symbols of healing in Judaism: the serpent, the sun, and the palm tree. You won’t typically find these three objects used in Jewish visual art in a way that … Continue reading

For Brides, Pilgrims, and a Certain Angel: The Wreath as a Jewish Decoration and Symbol
Shavuot / Symbols / Weddings

For Brides, Pilgrims, and a Certain Angel: The Wreath as a Jewish Decoration and Symbol

Wreaths are not a major motif in Judaism, but Jews used wreaths as holiday decorations and wedding accessories even in antiquity, when the Temple stood in Jerusalem. Although today wreaths are strongly associated with Christmas, Jews made wreaths for Shavuot and other festive occasions before the birth of Jesus. And as a symbol, the wreath … Continue reading

Introducing the Maraviglia Star – Free PDF Pattern
Free Patterns / Symbols

Introducing the Maraviglia Star – Free PDF Pattern

When looking for Jewish design inspiration, illustrated Jewish manuscripts offer a treasure trove of themes and forms. And now, the British Library has made dozens of illustrated manuscripts from the Middle Ages accessible online through the Hebrew Manuscripts Digitisation Project. Within the digitized collection you’ll find hand calligraphed Passover Haggadahs, daily prayer books, Kabbalistic texts, … Continue reading

Welcome, Angels
Symbols

Welcome, Angels

Who doesn’t love angels, those ethereal creatures who mediate between heaven and earth –between the spiritual and physical worlds. Angel imagery in Jewish needle crafts goes all the way back to the first official Jewish sewing project: the Tabernacle that the Israelites built to house the Ark of the Covenant. In front of the Holy … Continue reading

Take a Look: The Ever Watchful Eye
Symbols

Take a Look: The Ever Watchful Eye

The eye appears in Jewish art, especially Jewish folk art, going back centuries. It suggests the eye of God that is always watching over the world, and represents divine protection. Fish, with their eyes that never close, also represent divine protection. Hamsa designs often incorporate eyes. I like the idea of combining folk symbols of … Continue reading

The Royal Pomegranate
Symbols

The Royal Pomegranate

The pomegranate’s natural crown fits its royal status among Jewish symbols. Widely referenced in the Bible, it’s one of the seven agricultural species symbolizing the abundance of the Promised Land. God’s instructions for the High Priest’s robe include decorative pomegranates woven into the hem. King Solomon had pomegranates carved into the crowns of the columns … Continue reading

Shabbat Candles as Challah Cover Symbol: A Delight
Challah Cover / Shabbat / Symbols

Shabbat Candles as Challah Cover Symbol: A Delight

No one quite knows anymore when the practice of lighting Shabbat candles began, but traditional sources agree that the practice reflects the prophet Isaiah’s appeal to “call the Sabbath a delight” (Isaiah 58:13). As Friday night falls, kindling the Shabbat candles creates light by which to enjoy the evening, especially the Friday night meal. No … Continue reading

The Almighty Shin
Symbols

The Almighty Shin

Shalom! The Hebrew letter that starts the word shalom, shin, often appears in Jewish design, particularly on ritual objects like tefillin boxes and mezuzah scroll covers. When used in Judaica, it traditionally stands for one of the names of God, Shaddai, which means Almighty. Shalom, Shin! [Image: Detail from mezuzah scroll cover project in Sew … Continue reading

Hi! I mean, Chai!
Symbols

Hi! I mean, Chai!

When chai tea first became popular in the United States, I was living in Kuwait (and we only got a Starbucks the last year I was there). So when I came back to New York one summer for a visit and ordered a cup of chai tea off a menu board, the look on the … Continue reading