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The Special Significance of ‘Am Yisrael Chai’

The slogan “Am Yisrael Chai” has gained particular popularity and significance all over the Jewish world in response to October 7th and the Israel-Hamas War.

But what does it mean exactly, where does it come from, and how can you use it to support Israel today? Read on below to learn more!

“Chai” in Hebrew on a necklace

 

The phrase “Am Yisrael Chai” can be translated as “The People of Israel Live” or “The Nation of Israel Lives,” and has both Jewish and Zionist meanings. Today it’s also used as a patriotic phrase, as an equivalent of “Long Live Israel.”

The word “Chai” – meaning life, living, or alive – itself has a very special meaning and long history as a Jewish symbol, as we explained in our recent Chai blog post. Today it’s commonly found on Jewish jewelry or other items worn as a point of Jewish pride, and is additionally often associated with “Am Yisrael Chai.

Origins & History

The phrase "Am Yisrael Chai" in Hebrew on a poster along with the Israeli flag and the city of Jerusalem

 

While the phrase "Am Yisrael Chai" is quite common today and widely used across the Jewish world and especially in Israel, it's actually relatively recent as far as Jewish history goes - it was popularized in 1965 as a lyric as part of a song by famous Jewish songwriter Shlomo Carlebach.

The song and the phrase itself were initially used to express solidarity with Soviet Jewry and their struggle for freedom, and were later connected to the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War in Israel.

Since then, the saying "Am Yisrael Chai" has gained popularity among Jews everywhere, and has taken on a double meaning:

(1) as a statement of Jewish unity, pride, and the enduring longevity of our people; and

(2) as an expression of support for and solidarity with Israel, particularly when the nation faces wars and existential threats.

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Significance Today

Banner hanging in Jerusalem after the attacks of Oct. 7, 2023, reading "Am Yisrael Chai (the People of Israel Live), United & Victorious!" in Hebrew

 

Today you can find the powerful phrase "Am Yisrael Chai" on Jewish gifts and items of personal expression such as jewelry, t-shirts, and posters. It may be chanted or sung at Jewish cultural events or rallies supporting Israel, and many Jews find deep meaning and comfort in it.

Since the brutal attack by Hamas on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, many Israelis and supporters of Israel have used "Am Yisrael Chai" as a rallying cry to express their resolve and unity. From outdoor banners to social media posts, this special Hebrew phrase is all over Israel, as Israelis are determined to overcome this dark chapter in Jewish history, and to defeat Hamas and protect the Jewish homeland.

 

 

An excellent way of showing your solidarity with Israel and Israelis, wherever you are, is with the phrase "Am Yisrael Chai"! Use it in social media posts, wear it on t-shirts or hoodies by Israeli artists, or get a poster or necklace from Israel emblazoned with it!

And check out our full collection of meaningful products to support Israel here.

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Blog Topics

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