Imani/Emunah Star

August 2007
Sterling silver, 18 karat yellow gold

For the occasion of the bat mitzvah of my friend Laura's daughter Imani, I thought I'd design something special. Imani and I are pretty good friends as well, by which I mean that we tease each other mercilessly. Her Hebrew name is אמונה (Emunah) which means "faith"--exactly the same thing that her given name means in Swahili. I decided that I'd combine the two cultures whence come her names into one piece of jewelry.

Swahili has no written language; it’s represented today by the same Latin letters we use in English--so I wasn't going to be using two languages in the design. However, among the Adinkra symbols of West Africa (where Swahili is spoken) is a symbol called the "Nyame Nti" that represents faith. I've shown that symbol here with the negative space of the two sterling silver halves of this star. The tree-like design is also appropriate to the occasion because our synagogue's name, Etz Hayim, means "Tree of Life." Her name in Hebrew, done in 18K yellow gold, is the only thing holding the two halves of the star together, showing how faith can be what keeps us together in trying times as well as how important her presence can be to the growth of Etz Hayim.

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