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Jewish Symbols Christians Keep Appropriating

Jewish symbols like the shofar and menorah have uses in both Judaism and Christianity – although the two uses differ greatly. Click here to learn more.

Jewish Menora credit Diana Polekhina Unsplash
Menora. credit Diana Polekhina / Unsplash

by Contributing Author

Christianity and Judaism are more closely linked than you may first believe – a reason why so many Christians opt to use Jewish symbols as part of their practice or daily life. However, both use the symbols very differently – Christians have adapted the use of the symbols over time to make them their own. Still, both religions value the symbols equally, even though uses may differ.

Below, we’ll look at some of the Jewish symbols Christians have appropriated over time.

The Christian Use Of The Shofar

The shofar is one of the most symbolic Jewish ritual items used in synagogues and Jewish households worldwide. It’s a horn instrument sold online through stores like the Judaica Web Store – find examples here.

The sounds of the shofar ring out during the month of Elul, the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, and to signal the end of Yom Kippur.

It is a call to action for both Christians and Jewish people – but in Judaism, it’s a call to repentance and a chance to reflect, whereas, with Christianity, it’s a call to prayer or a call to action. The worry is that Christians have appropriated the use of the shofar without taking the time to carry through its original meaning and value. In Washington D.C. – the Jericho March made this evident.

The Jericho March saw a group of Christians walking through the streets of Washington blowing the shofar and signing the song of the Jericho March – yet it’s a biblical story based on slaughter. That indicates some Christians take Jewish symbols and link them to biblical stories that destroy the meaning of the shofar.

The Christian Use Of The Menorah

In Judaism, the menorah comes to life during the celebration of Hanukkah – the festival of light. The menorah has seven or nine candle holders that represent the days that the menorah candle holder was alight for after the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem in 16BCE. Some also believe it represents God’s creation of the earth in seven days.

If you head to a Christian church, you’ll more often than not find a menorah at the altar.

The Main Difference Between Christianity and Judaism

Considering Christianity follows similar beliefs to Judaism and uses some of its symbols, what is the difference between the two religions? The complete answer is complex, but in layman’s terms, the difference is that Judaism doesn’t follow the belief of Jesus as a divine being. Judaism originates as a result of the relationship between God and Abraham. Additionally, the Hebrew Bible, which doesn’t include the New Testament.

Still, one similarity is that Judaism and Christianity both believe in Genesis, and both religions believe in the sanctity of the earth God created.

Even though the two religions are very different, there is a crossover when using specific symbols. However, some of the meaning behind the symbols seems to have been lost in translation when reaching Christianity, which is why there are some questions by Jewish people about Christian communities appropriating Jewish symbols incorrectly.

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