I have a chai pendant that I love because it was a bat mitzvah gift. But what does “chai” mean and why is it such a popular Jewish symbol?

Chai is the Hebrew word that means “life.” The numerical value of its letters (eight for the letter chet and 10 for the letter yud) is 18, which is why Jews frequently give monetary gifts and donations in multiples of 18.

Perhaps the chai is a popular Jewish symbol because human life is precious, and Judaism encourages us to live fully and passionately through our sacred traditions and our interactions with others.