When Cathy Spengler asked Leslie and me what we wanted or didn’t want for our cover design, we were positive---not a Magen David!
We had already imagined that a mainstream publisher would grasp that symbol, plaster in on a cover, and retitle
our book. To us it was trite, overused. It seems like every book with a Jewish topic has a magen david plastered somewhere on the cover.
As I’ve gazed at Alisa’s birthday photo in which she’s wearing her Magen David necklace “of my own design,” I’ve thought more about the
weight of a necklace. When Leslie and I traveled to St. Petersburg in 2011, I was struck by the number of people (men and women) wearing
a cross as they hurried down Nevsky Prospekt. I hadn’t expected outward signs of religion. But, it is clearly a symbol of new freedoms.
Both Vera and Alla were drawn to the Magen David when it was forbidden to them. Vera took hers from Leslie’s neck. Alla bought hers
from a black marketeer who assured her it came from an Israeli soldier. Was it a talisman of defiance or of identity?
These thoughts about Vera and Alla evoke my memories of wearing my mezuzah necklace. In my private girls’ school, we were forbidden
to wear any jewelry other than a plain wristwatch. Once we were high school juniors, we could wear our official class rings. We also had
official school charms worn on a bracelet. Despite the prohibition against necklaces, I decided to wear a mezuzah and keep it tucked under
my uniform blouse. I remember the delicious feeling of getting away with a “crime, “ the joy of feeling I was different than everyone else
despite all attempts by our school rules to make us uniform in appearance and to homogenize our thoughts. But, when I went to Jewish
youth group events and Jewish summer camp, the mezuzah necklace remained in my jewelry box. Did I feel it was superfluous among my
The Nazis tried to pervert the Magen David from a protective shield to a badge of shame, but Israel’s adoption of the Magen David for its
national flag allowed Jews to reclaim our symbol.