So a couple of months ago, this guy puts this piece of jewelry on e-bay. He apparently gets a little over five bucks for it. We guess that he wasn't sure what it was; well, we're absolutely positive he wasn't sure what it was, but we don't exactly know where his guess came from. He referred to it as a sterling silver Navajo Moose.

Navajo Moose? Not quite as much of a non sequitur as, say, Hawaiian Polar Bear, but let's just say that we don't exactly picture Kokopeli riding one.

It's interesting in an In Search Of Ancient Astronauts sort of way. Maybe, in eons past, when Raquel Welch was hanging around with dinosaurs, mooses wandered around the desert mesas of Arizona. Lost mooses. Maybe one developed a crush on a buffalo.

After this buildup, you might be curious as to what exactly a Navajo Moose looks like. To begin with, it's attractively stylized.

This is what the picture on e-bay looked like (I got the picture second-hand and the object itself has of course long since sold):






The story apparently doesn't end here. On an online magazine called Tablet (, a writer reports that he received an e-mail from a guy whose son saw one of these on an unlikely wearer who, upon questioning, identified what he was wearing as a Navajo Moose. The probability that this is the exact object in question is awfully remote, leading one to the conclusion that someone somewhere is now selling these as Navajo Mooses.


For those of you unfamiliar with this piece of jewelry, which is pretty common and typically worn around the neck, it's a Hebrew word, Chai (the ch pronounced more like kh, like you're gathering spit, not like tsh like one kind of tea you can buy in Starbucks; the vowel is a long I). It means "life." In Hebrew writing, letters stand in for numbers, this number is 18. That's why if you or your kid is ever invited to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah and you're wondering about a gift, most people give a check in a card and the check is frequently made out for either $18 or a multiple thereof, for luck.

Am Yisrael Chai is both a saying and a song title. It means The People of Israel Live, though it isn't necessarily a reference to the country so much as to the Jewish People.

If you ever see one of these worn with the Moose Head on the right, it's backward. Wearing it like that will not make it a Navajo Moose, it will make it a backward Chai.

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Comment by koshersalaami on October 6, 2012 at 9:53pm


I actually forwarded your comment to my wife.


You could be right.

Comment by koshersalaami on October 6, 2012 at 9:57pm


JMac just talked about the ideograms.

You may be right about the plural. I don't know which of those interpretations was meant at the time. I've interpreted it, probably in a more modern sense, as being about priesthoods. If we look at Judaism's definitions, other gods don't technically exist, so this commandment is almost the equivalent of "thou shalt not believe in the Tooth Fairy." However, if other gods didn't exist, other priesthoods certainly did, and in 1300 BCE the sorts of practices they promoted included things like human sacrifice. The prohibition against other gods may have been because other priesthoods were insufficiently inhumane to be acceptable.

Comment by koshersalaami on October 6, 2012 at 10:11pm

I've been searching around. It turns out that a Navajo artist has made a silver moose broach.

Navajo GS Glen Sandoval signed Sterling Silver MOOSE pin BROOCH ~ 1 3/4" tall But it's actually a moose.

I also found a Navajo artist who did a "moose print" on a garment on Amazon, but those look more like elk than moose.

Comment by koshersalaami on October 6, 2012 at 10:12pm

The moose above is on E-bay

Comment by old new lefty on October 6, 2012 at 10:28pm

That's okay by me.  My entire life is backwards!

Comment by old new lefty on October 6, 2012 at 10:29pm

And as long as we're on the subject, let's not forget the Elks, Oddfellows, and Shriners.  I have no idea how many Navajo Moose there are.

Comment by koshersalaami on October 6, 2012 at 10:52pm

Navajo Shriners? I'm picturing little silver cars with little silver clowns.

Though I like Shriners. My kid, may he rest in peace, went to one of their hospitals a bunch of times. Good organization.

Comment by Anne Armand on October 7, 2012 at 11:47am

So funny. Commented on OS .....

PS...There are brake for Moose signs all over NH... have never seen one. Which I am told is a good thing.

Comment by koshersalaami on October 7, 2012 at 11:52am

Yeah, I'm commuting now. This place got really quiet.


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