Being a Jew in C-U: Save a Life, Save the World

And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. – The Talmud

The Chai symbol is reflective of Judaism's emphasis on life. (Photo by rachaelvoorhees on flickr)

The Chai symbol is reflective of Judaism's emphasis on life. (Photo by rachaelvoorhees on flickr)

For my 20th birthday my grandmother gave me a beautiful gold necklace with a diamond charm. The charm is two Hebrew letters that spell out the word “CHAI.” (No, not like the latte, more akin to the word “Hi.”) Translated to English, Chai means “life.”

Chai is a Jewish symbol just as popular as a Star of David, but perhaps not as well known to non-Jews. I am honored to wear it around my neck. Judaism is a religion that emphasizes life and how we live it in the present.

And it is a vitally important part of our teachings to help others in need. As it says in the Talmud (the collection of ancient rabbinic writings on Jewish law and tradition), to save a life is to save the world. It was no accident that by Wednesday afternoon I had messages in my in-box from no less than three Jewish organizations regarding raising funds for earthquake relief in Haiti (including the local Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation).

So if you will, give up that chai latte and donate that money towards people — women, men and children — of Haiti who are facing an uncertain future. Of course, Haiti wasn’t far from distress before the earthquake — it ranks as the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere —  but there’s no question the devastation it has incurred now.

They need us now more than ever – to live. If you are in a position to give, please give them a chance.

Laura Weisskopf Bleill, a co-founder of, was once told by someone in Chambana that her Chai charm looks like a rabbit. She writes “Being a Jew in C-U,” a column about being a Jewish suburban girl in a cornfield, on Thursdays. You can reach her at

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  1. Well said.

  2. Thanks for the info. I have seen that symbol before but hadn’t been able to find out what it means. And, I pray that the help being sent to Haiti will be able to do a lot of good and avoid the corruption that is now being displayed over the news.


  1. […] yesterday’s post regarding sending monetary donations to help the people of Haiti, I felt a bit empty. I knew I […]