When 15-year-old Ryan Green wore his new Star of David necklace to the first day of class at Harrison Central High School in Gulfport, Miss., it drew the attention of wary school officials.
The school superintendent, backed by the entire local school board barred the carrot-topped, freckle-faced boy from wearing the silver pendant, citing a school policy that prohibits students from wearing gang symbols.
The case swiftly gained national attention, spurring a federal lawsuit, charges of anti-Semitism and raising new questions about religious freedom in public schools.
The six-pointed star — the so-called Star of David — has been many things to many people over past several thousand years. But it only became a universal symbol for Jews — known as the Magen David — during the past 200 years, many scholars say.
The hexagram, formed by two superimposed equilateral triangles, is known to scholars from the Bronze Age, when it had magical implications for both Jews and non-Jews.
It first appeared on a Jewish seal found at Sidon from the seventh century BCE, according to the Encyclopedia Judaica.
Gene Lesserson rushed to his synagogue in Hauppauge, L.I., at 7:30 Sunday morning after learning that an arsonist had torched the building during the night, destroying a ground floor office.
“It’s a sickening feeling to see our little shul damaged by an arson fire,” he said later. “I walked in there and had the feeling that my own house was destroyed. You could still smell the smoke from even outside the building. It was everywhere — in the carpets and the talleisim. … Everything is going to have to be cleaned.”
Will Jewish extremism increase in the wake of the shooting rampage at the North Valley Jewish Community Center and other subsequent anti-Semitic acts?
That question emerged this week as the Jewish community struggled for the proper response to the attack on the Los Angeles-area JCC by Buford Furrow, a white supremacist with ties to neo-Nazi groups.
Her two small children in tow, a 30-ish mother walked out of the Central Queens Y and down the front stairs this week.
A few steps away on 108th Street, her children, who had spent the morning at the Forest Hills Y’s nursery program, announced that they were hungry. Mom gave them a few dollar bills to buy snacks from a machine in the Y front lobby.
The kids raced back up the stairs; their mother trailed behind, watching them the whole way.
“I never let them out of my sight — always,” she declared.
Hate crimes against Jews continued across the nation this week even as political leaders from New York’s City Hall to the White House were promising stepped-up protection and renewed attempts to push tougher anti-hate and gun control laws.
The moves come in response to the shootings at a Los Angeles-area Jewish community center in which five people were wounded, including a 5-year-old boy and two 6-year-olds.