Why Friday the 13th is a Lucky Day for Jews

By Ilana Sichel

(JTA) On Friday the 13th we typically watch for planes falling out of the sky and elevators crashing and relationships falling apart. Americans are so spooked by the number 13 that some buildings even skip the 13th floor. But if we lived in Israel today, we might be expecting only good things. That’s because in Israel, and in Judaism in general, 13 is considered a lucky number.

Before we prove to you the auspiciousness, let’s talk about the possible (but unproven) origins of triskaidekaphobia. It might have to do with the fact that Judas Iscariot was one of the 13 people at Jesus’s last supper. Or maybe because the end of the Mayan calendar’s 13th baktun calendar cycle was supposed to herald the apocalypse.

But for Jews it’s not like that. As blogger Joshua Hammerman points out, there are a bunch of reasons why not. Just think: What is the age of a bar mitzvah boy? How many months are there in the Hebrew lunar calendar? And don’t forget the 13 attributes of God laid out in Exodus to explain why God forgave us for that whole golden calf episode.

Still unconvinced? Consider that Maimonides aka the Rambam, formulated 13 principles of faith. And then there’s this clincher: When Israel was established in 1948, the first provisional government had 13 members.

Why? Well, for good luck.