Chai (Hebrew pronunciation: [χai], occasionally
[ħai]) is a symbol and word that figures
prominently in Jewish culture and consists of
the letters of the Hebrew alphabet Chet (ח)
and Yod (י).
In the Hebrew language, the word chai (חַי) spelled by these two letters means "living," is related to the term for "life," chaim, and also appears in the slogan "`am yisrael chai!" (עַם יִשְׂרָאֵל חַי, "The people of Israel live!",).
There have been various mystical numerological speculations about the fact that, according to the system of gematria, the letters of chai add up to 18 (see "Lamedvavniks" etc.). For this reason, 18 is a spiritual number in Judaism, and many Jews give gifts of money in multiples of 18 as a result.
 References in culture
The Chai symbol is often worn by Jews as a Jewelry around the neck (along with the Star of David (Magen David), Mezuzah and the Hamsa).
In Hebrew, the related word chaya means "living thing" or "animal", and is derived from the Hebrew word chai (חי), meaning "life."
Jews often give gifts and donations in multiples of 18, which is called "giving chai." Mailings from Jewish charities usually suggest the amounts to give in multiples of chai (18, 36, 54, dollars, etc.) rather than the usual multiples of 25 or 100.
Chai is a popular root word in Hebrew names. Chaya, derived from chai is a popular female name in Hebrew, and Chaim is the very popular male version. The biblical Eve's name is Chava in Hebrew, also derived from same root as chai.
Among all Jews, both religious and secular, the toast "l´chaim", which means "to life", is frequently used when celebrating something, such as one of the high holidays, birthdays, weddings etc. See also the article about "Etz Chaim", meaning "tree of life" for more related information.
Judaica - Jewish
ceremonial art, also known as Judaica refers to an
array of objects used by Jews for ritual purposes.
Because enhancing a mitzvah by performing it with an
especially beautiful object is considered a
praiseworthy way of honoring God's commandments,
Judaism has a long tradition of commissioning ritual
objects from craftsmen and artists.
Kiddush cup - Kiddush, literally, "sanctification," is a blessing recited over wine or grape juice to sanctify the Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Silver kiddush cups are traditional but not obligatory.
Passover haggadah - The tradition of artistically embellished haggadahs, the Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder, dates back to the Middle Ages. The Sarajevo Haggadah of 1350 is a celebrated example. Major contemporary artists have produced notable haggadahs, such as the Szyk Hagaddah.
Hanukkah menorah - The menorah (or hanukkiah) used on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is perhaps the most widely produced article of Jewish ceremonial art. The Lindo lamp is a particularly fine example by an 18th-century silversmith. Contemporary artists often design menorahs, such at the gold-plated brass menorah with 35 moveable branches designed by Yaacov Agam. A silver menorah by Ze'ev Raban from the 1930s is in the Judaica Collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Spice box - The close of the Jewish Shabbat is marked by the brief prayer ceremony of Havdalah, which usually takes place in the home. Part of the ceremony requires sniffing a sweet-smelling spice or plant. In Jewish communities around the Mediterranean, a sprig of a sweet-smelling shrub was customarily used, in Northern Europe by the twelfth century there are literary references of the use of a specially designed spice box or container. The oldest surviving spice boxes for Havdalah date to the mid-sixteenth century. The Jewish Museum (New York) has a German example c. 1550 thought to originate in Frankfurt am Main.
Etrog box - To protect the etrog during the Sukkot holiday, it is traditionally wrapped in silky flax fibers and stored in a special box, often made from silver
Notable Judaica collections - Museums with notable collections of Jewish ceremonial art include the Israel Museum, the Jewish Museum (London), the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme in Paris, the Musée d'the Jewish Museum in Prague, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum (New York) and the Musée alsacien in Strasbourg. The Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco.
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