The Hamsa is a very common symbol throughout the Middle East, that has even made its way into American fashion, but few people know about neither its origins nor its cultural significance. This sign is often used in Judaism as a sign of protection. In Islam, the sign is referred to as “Fatima’s Hand.” Fatima was Mohammad’s daughter and her sign, the hamsa, is a “symbol of patience, loyalty, faith and resistance against difficulties.” Both cultures use the symbol to bring luck and protection.
On October 27 SUNY Rockland’s Emet for Israel supported group, Rockland Friends of Israel hosted a multicultural event entitled “What Exactly is a Hamsa” to explore the origins and meaning of the hamsa. During the event students were able to make Hamsa dream catchers, necklaces and were given the opportunity to learn about other cultures. At the end of the event each student was given a card with the history of the Hamsa.
The event was well attended by a variety of students. Since it wasn’t a sit-down event, many students were able to stop by, drawing a larger and more diverse crowd.