Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Approximately four years ago, in response to the tragic shooting at a synagogue in Poway, Calif. in April 2019, Abby Adams and Sammy Gabbai created an Instagram account dedicated to sharing stories of Jewish solidarity. The account, known as Why I Wear My Star, featured posts containing people’s reasons for wearing Star of David jewelry and other Judaica.

Both Ms. Adams and Ms. Gabbai, who are Jewish, explained that they had ceased updating the account for a while. However, they resumed posting after Hamas attackers killed about 1,200 people in a sudden assault on Israel on Oct. 7.

Ms. Gabbai, now 21 and a senior at Florida State University, clarified that the Instagram account is not meant to be pro-Israel. Instead, she and Ms. Adams, now 21 and a senior at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, have used it to share stories — some of which are anonymous — about why people are proud to be Jewish, “whether they’re Israeli, American, German,” as she described it.

The six-point hexagram is not only viewed as a symbol of Jewish pride, but it is also seen as a symbol of support for the state of Israel, being rendered in blue on the Israeli flag.

Rachie Shnay, a jewelry designer in Manhattan, recounted seeing several individuals wearing star accessories at a rally for Israel organized by Jewish groups in Washington recently. She expressed that “It was the most empowering feeling.” Ms. Shnay, 34, added that her grandparents were Holocaust survivors.

The Star of David, known as Magen David in Hebrew, was utilized by Jews in Prague as far back as the 1600s. By the 1800s, it had become widely associated with the Jewish population. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, noted that a Zionist flag designed in 1891 by a rabbi in Boston closely resembles the Israeli flag.

During the Holocaust, the Nazis mandated that yellow stars be worn as badges by Jews for identification purposes. Some individuals worry that sporting the star or other items like a kipa (a skullcap) and tzitzit (ritual tassels) in public may provoke antisemitic reactions. However, as antisemitism has proliferated online, domestically, and globally since the commencement of the Israel-Hamas war, Ms. Adams and others have found their personal style to be a way to embrace and exhibit their heritage.

Nelly Bulkin, 50, shared her concerns when her 18-year-old daughter, Sophie, a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley, felt a strong desire to display her Jewish identity and solidarity with Israeli citizens on campus following the Oct. 7 assault by Hamas.

“My relatives were in concentration camps, lived in ghettos, were killed in pogroms,” Ms. Bulkin said. She noted that she and her husband, who reside in San Diego, both immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe and were brought up by parents who had to conceal their Jewishness.

Sophie Bulkin, who wears a small necklace with the words of the Shema, a Jewish proclamation of faith, in Hebrew and English, shared that such sartorial displays are a way to honor “what all these people who have died for my religion have done for me in the past.”

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