|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2008)|
Spelling and pronunciation
The most common spelling is "Chai", but the word is occasionally also spelled "Hai". The usual modern pronunciation of this word is [χai̯], while a transcription of the Biblical and Mishnaic pronunciation would have likely been [ħai̯] (with a pharyngeal consonant).
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.
In Jewish culture
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.
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 חַוָּה ("Chava") in Hebrew, also derived from the same root as chai.
Among all Jews, both religious and secular, the toast לחיים ("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.
In the Eurovision Song Contest 1983, which was held in Germany four decades after Shoah, Israel was represented with a song called Chai performed by Ofra Haza which included the line Am Yisra'el chai.
In Johannesburg (South Africa), there is an English language Jewish radio station called Chai FM.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to חי.|
- Aish: Am Yisrael Chai -- The Eternal Nation: (MP3 file) - A vocal recording by Jewish singer, Sam Glaser of the traditional Jewish song.
- BBC recording from April 20, 1945 of Jewish survivors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp five days after their liberation. This was the first Sabbath ceremony openly conducted on German soil since the beginning of the war, with people still dying around them, singing what would become the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah. At the end of Hatikvah, a man shouts out, "Am Yisrael Chai, The children of Israel still living!" Nana.co.il, original Site with Newspaper Article (Hebrew)