Star of David Christmas tree-toppers take holiday by storm

Between evangelicals and people in interfaith relationships, Christmas tree toppers are selling like hot cross buns.

December 6, 2011 01:05
3 minute read.
Star of David tree-topper

Star of David tree-topper_311. (photo credit:


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NEW YORK – Two Jewish-born entrepreneurs are a somewhat unlikely source for some equally unlikely holiday hits: the Hanukkah Tree Topper and Star of David Tree Topper.

Those looking to top their Christmas trees with a Jewish star can find such ornaments online, and between evangelical Christians and people in interfaith relationships, the tree toppers are selling like hot cross buns.

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Christmas Trees from KKL-JNF Forests

Morri and Marina Chowaiki have sold “thousands” of their Hanukkah Tree Toppers, a Star of David “menorahment” intended to be placed on top of a Christmas tree.

Morri Chowaiki was raised Jewish in Los Angeles, and Marina was raised in Melbourne, Australia, by a German Jewish mother and Greek Orthodox father. While Marina grew up celebrating Christmas, Morri did not. The couple decided to decorate their home for Christmas in 2005, and trimmed their Christmas tree with blue and silver decorations, including dreidels, as a tribute to both their faiths.

“She decorated a tree and put a five-pointed star on top,” Morri recalled.

“I asked with a bit of a chuckle, ‘Couldn’t you put a Jewish star on it?’ She said she couldn’t find one. I said I would, and I couldn’t. That’s how the idea was born.”

He filed for a patent for his six-sided silver Star of David and started selling it on Amazon in 2009. Since then, he says, his Hanukkah Tree Topper has become the site’s No. 1 selling tree topper, as well as its No. 1 selling Hanukka item.

The Hanukkah Tree Topper is also now sold on SkyMall, the in-flight shopping service, as well as online at Home Depot and Sears. Thousands of units have been sold in the US, Canada, the UK, Austria, Ireland, Australia and Mexico.

“The primary audience is interfaith families, but we also get many orders from people who want a symbol of Israel and peace on their tree, when in fact no one in their home is Jewish,” Morri Chowaiki said.

“We’ve received tons of positive feedback and hundreds of photos of people’s trees on our Facebook page with their star on top.”

Raphael Varnassal, another online retailer at, designed a Star of David Tree Topper for his family’s Christmas tree in 2010. He and his siblings were raised Jewish, but his father was Catholic.

“So far, sales have been pretty strong, especially during the Black Friday weekend,” Varnassal said, alluding to the shopping days immediately after Thanksgiving.

“As expected, most customers are from interfaith families or in interfaith relationships. However, I’ve been surprised by the positive response has gotten from the religious Christian community,” he said.

Varnassal noted that he’d had “a lot of very nice dialogue and interactions through blogs and social networks” with the Christian community.

“I believe for some of them, the Star of David also has an important religious symbolism as it does for the Jewish people,” he said.

Chowaiki said he didn’t feel Hanukka and Christmas should or could be integrated into a single holiday.

“Both are equally important and should be celebrated as such,” he said. “We celebrate both.”

He added that “for people who want to celebrate Christmas with a tree, stockings, gifts, lights and the like, and have someone Jewish in the home, the tree topper gives those people an opportunity to have their culture represented as well in a beautiful and meaningful way.”

Varnassal explained that “for my family, the Star of David is a Jewish symbol, but one that carries a meaning which transcends a single religion. The six points of the star point in all directions with symmetry and balance. Therefore, it represents an equilibrium that applies to everyone.”

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