The Magen David is the Star or Shield of David.
It is the symbol of the Jewish people and of Israel (it is center on the Israeli Flag, the Degel Yisrael), and dates back at least a 1,000 years.
Magen David Sephardic Congregation is also the name of our wonderful new synagogue in Maryland.
As the amazing picture above shows, the Magen David actually can represent every single letter (24) of the Hebrew alphabet.
As such, Magen David truly represents what a Jewish synagogue is and should be:
1) INCLUSIVE — As every Hebrew letter is found in the Star of David, so too the synagogue is a place where every Jew, no matter Ashkenaz or Sephardic, Chasidim or Misnagdim, Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform–everyone is welcome and part of the greater family and community. The synagogue is a place we go to connect with our fellow Jews, where we respect and care for each other–our brothers and sisters, and where we Kibitz, laugh, and share of our selves and our heritage together.
2) HOLY — The Magen David is holy as the religious symbol of the Jewish people and representing all the hebrew letters as in the Torah and the Ten Commandments. Some also believe in a Kabbalistic or mystical symbolism to the points of the star. Similarly, the synagogue is a place of holiness, and the Mikdash Me’at or small Temple (until the Holy Temple is rebuilt on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem). It is the place we go to sacrifice to G-d and a central place where we can do good deeds for our fellow man.
3) PRAYER AND LEARNING — The Magen David represents the Jewish people, who are known as a people of the book. And the Magen David with all the Hebrew letters can represent all the Bible, prayer book, and wisdom of our sages. Prayer and learning is central to our faith and service to G-d. Similarly, the synagogue (and Yeshiva or Jewish school) is the center of our religion where we go daily and on Shabbat and holidays to Pray and learn Torah.
Magen David is an absolutely beautiful and meaningful symbol for who we are and what our synagogue ought to be. 😉
(Source Photo: here with attribution to eshevbooks)