Jewish Life 2 min read

Chai and the number 18

By JCC Milwaukee August 22, 2018

18, 36, 72, 90, 108… why do Jews make donations and give gifts in multiples of 18? Seems totally random, right?

Maybe not.

In Hebrew, each letter has a numerical value. The number 10 is the letter Yud. The number 8 is the letter Het. Het-Yud spells the word Chai (חי), usually pronounced like the English word “hi” or “high,” which is a word and symbol that means “life.” In fact, a common Jewish toast “L’Chaim!,” which means, “To Life!” is often said at celebrations in anticipation of all the good things to come.

Judaism is a religion that emphasizes the importance of life and the hope that supports it. As a result, 18 is a popular number that represents good luck. At weddings, bar mitzvahs, and when making honorary donations, Jews often give gifts of money in multiples of 18, symbolically giving the recipient the gift of “life” or luck.

So, make a donation in honor of a friend, and be sure to wish them a long life by multiplying by 18!