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The Place of Jewelry in Jewish Tradition

by davidww

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Jewelry figures in many cultures all around the world but perhaps not quite as prominently than in the Jewish religion and traditions. Many Jewish practices discourage or absolutely forbid the use of jewelry while others not only encourage but dictate it. Either way, it is an unmistakable acknowledgement of the role that jewelry plays in the daily lives of Jewish people.

  • Marriage

Jewish halakha actually instructs Jewish husbands to buy their wives new clothes and jewelry before every yom tov. This practice is very much in keeping with what is written in the Talmud about what a man must say and do in order to make his wife happy. A wife will be happy if her husband goes beyond providing just her needs. By “needs” it means a home, the clothes on her back, food on the table etc. Providing beyond a woman’s needs means providing things that have no practical purpose other than to show her how much she is loved and valued; and with women, nothings says it more clearly than being gifted with beautiful jewelry.

  • Weddings

Quite ironically, before starting life as man and wife both the bride and the groom in a Jewish wedding are not allowed to wear any jewelry. The ceremony is held under the chupah which represents the couple’s new home, to where their parents lead them and having no jewelry symbolizes that their relationship does not depend on material things.

  • Mourning

Unlike other cultures where those left behind by someone who passes away can wear all manner of jewelry during the wake and the funeral, Jewish mourners cannot. In fact, after the dead has been buried, the mourners are not supposed to shower or bathe for a week, to shave, to wear leather shoes or to wear any jewelry. Even mirrors in their home are covered up because personal appearance should be the least of their worries.

  • Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur the most solemn day of the Jewish year, certain prohibitions are observed, among them the wearing of leather shoes, eating, drinking, anointing one’s body, bathing and having sexual relations. Wearing of golden jewelry is specifically prohibited as it is a reminder of the sin of the golden calf.

Popular Jewish Jewelry

Here are some well-known Jewish jewelry.


Star of David - The Star of David is universally recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism. In Hebrew, it is known as the Shield of David or Magen David. It is a six-pointed star that is believed to symbolize God’s protection from all six directions north, south, east, west, up and down.

Hamsa - The hamsa is a palm-shaped symbol most popularly used in jewelry and wall decors. It is believed to protect against the evil eye. Wearing this amulet not only protects the wearer but also brings blessings, strength and power.

Ana Becoach - Ana Becoach jewelry is designed aroundan ancient prayer composed of seven lines, each corresponding to the 7 days of the week and 7 angels. Each sentence also stands for a particular heavenly body, enriching the lives of those who meditate on it with pure spiritual light and positive energy.

Urim and Thumim - Urim and Thummim is an ancient phrase from the Torah (Hebrew Scriptures). Urim is derived from the Hebrew word for “light” or “to give light”. Thummim is from the Hebrew word for “perfection” or “completeness”. Urim and Thummim jewelry will inspire its wearer to analyze his life more deeply in order to make sound decisions for the future.

Shema Israel - ShemaYisrael is perhaps the most known prayer to Jewish people. It is often the last prayer that children recite just before they go to bed and is the centerpiece of Jewish prayer services in the mornings and evenings. To wear Shema Israel jewelry has literally come to mean wearing a prayer for protection.

These are but a few of the wealth of designs that are popular with Jewish people. As jewelry continues to be a prominent factor in the observance of certain Jewish traditions especially those between a husband and his wife, jewelry artists and designers will never cease to delight with many more meaningful and inspirational creations.

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