I am a Christian and our church has a group of women that make prayer shawls for those who are sick or hurting or who are just plain in need of some comfort. We collect these shawls all month long then our group prays over them then on Sunday, they are dedicated and these shawls are given away free to any one in need no questions asked! We are going to make and send prayer shawls to those who lost loved ones and any one else who wants one in Newtown Ct.

My question is: one of the family's that lost a child is Jewish and we wanted to send a shawl that is white and has a cross in the pattern and hand sew a gold color crocheted star of David across from the cross but we are not sure if this is proper. Could you please advise?

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    No. Nonono. I do not advise this in the least.
    – Seth J
    Dec 20, 2012 at 13:50
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    Please see this question. Unfortunately, many centuries of persecution will cloud even the nicest meaning of this gesture. Btw, what is a prayer shawl in re: to Christianity? In Judaism, the Tallith, also commonly called a "prayer shawl", is worn by men (and in some denominations by women) during prayer, but the main point is fulfilling the commandment to place Tzitzith (tassles) on any four-cornered garment that is worn.
    – Seth J
    Dec 20, 2012 at 13:57
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    Kim, it's wonderful that you want to help in this way, but unfortunately the symbology there would not send the message that you intend. Perhaps there is something else you could make for that family to show your support, such as an afghan or pillow, without any symbols (Christian or Jewish)? Also, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for bringing your question here. I hope you stick around and enjoy the site. Dec 20, 2012 at 14:08
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    Hi kim, it's nice to see you here. I'm curious, when you say you "pray over them," what exactly does that entail?
    – Double AA
    Dec 20, 2012 at 17:04
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    BTW, the cross in Christianity and the star of David in Judaism are not really comparable. One is a religious symbol with sacred significance, the other is like an emblem on a shield or seal - it's a symbol for a group, but has no sacred meaning.
    – Ariel
    Dec 20, 2012 at 22:37

1 Answer 1


Obviously, I can't actually speak for the family involved, however, in general, giving any kind of Christian religious symbol to a Jewish family will be considered offensive. The meaning conveyed by the cross for most Jews is very different from the meaning that Christians see in it, and not the least bit positive.

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    "Offensive" I think is a strong word in this case because it seems obvious that they are trying to help (particularly if all the other affected families get shawls as well). I do agree though that it likely isn't something the Jewish family would feel comfortable using or displaying.
    – Double AA
    Dec 20, 2012 at 16:54
  • @DoubleAA The fact that they are sincerely trying to help doesn't necessarily help. It may actually make things work, in that it implies that they sincerely believe that this Jewish family will find comfort in the gift of a cross, because, of course, even Jews know that the cross is the ultimate symbol of goodness and grace.
    – LazerA
    Dec 20, 2012 at 17:07
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    @LazerA ...which means you would know that they are not knowledgeable about Jews and can't be blamed for misunderstanding.
    – Double AA
    Dec 20, 2012 at 17:09
  • @DoubleAA. I would interpret such a gift to mean that the giver was either self-absorbed to the point of being oblivious, or was profoundly arrogant. Neither interpretation would engender pleasant feelings.
    – TRiG
    Dec 21, 2012 at 17:13

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