The Star of David has become known worldwide as a symbol of modern Judaism, but how exactly did it become such a prominent symbol? There have been archaeological findings of the star in Israel from as early as the third or fourth century. Historians believe it may have originally been used as an architectural ornament in many
early synagogues. The first use of the star as a symbol of Judaism seems to be around the 11th century, as a decoration in the Tanakh manuscript. Usage became more widespread several hundred years later in 1354 when Charles IV, the King of Bohemia at the time, created a red flag for the Jews living in Prague. The flag included David’s shield (the star) and Solomon’s seal. After the Prague flag was created, usage of the star proliferated across Jewish communities. The Jews of Budapest also received a similar red star, and the image was regularly seen on flags, architecture and artwork throughout Central Europe. In 1897, the First Zionist Congress elected to use the star to represent the organization and the overall Jewish community. As a result, the star became even more visible to the general public throughout the early 20th century. For example, it was heavily used to indicate Jewish affiliations in athletics. A Jewish sports club in Vienna, Austria competed with uniforms that had the Star of David on their chests. A Jewish basketball team in Philadelphia also wore a Star of David on their jerseys. Of course, many people associated the Star of David with the way the Nazi regime identified Jews during World War II and the Holocaust. Jews were required to wear yellow Stars of David on their breast and back. Today, the flag of Israel contains a blue Star of David on top of a white background. The flag was adopted on October 28, 1948, just months after the country was officially established. Israeli leadership opted to use the Star of David as a nod to the First Zionist Congress.