Hamsa

Although it may derive from Islamic or pagan culture, the hamsa today has become a Jewish and Israeli symbol.

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Hamsas still play a role in some Sephardic rituals today. During the henna ceremony, when brides are decorated in the preparation for their wedding, brides may wear a hamsa around their neck to ward off the evil eye.

Even as the hamsa is today affiliated with kabbalah, Israel,and Judaism, it is perhaps the symbol's mysterious origins and the superstitions surrounding it that attract the attention of celebrities and ordinary people alike.

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Menachem Wecker

Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com. He lives in Washington, D.C.