Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Hebrew Translations of Handler Gravestones

I previously posted photographs of the Handler family gravestones for family buried in Akron, Ohio. I then shared my experience using JewishGen's ViewMate to obtain translations of the Hebrew on these stones.

One respondent provided the following translation: "Here lies our dear and respected father Reb Josef Ben/(son of) Reb Aharon, Z"L. He died on the 19th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev (and the Hebrew year). May his soul be bound up in the bonds of eternal life."

She also provided the additional information: "A couple of explanations....The word "Reb" is a title of honor and respect, however it does NOT imply rabbi. The use of "Z"L" is the Hebrew abbreviation for one who has predeceased or is of recent memory. It clarifies that Joseph's father Aharon had predeceased him. The Hebrew name Aharon translates to Aaron, and the father could have been named Adolph in Hungary (with a Hebrew name of Aharon)."

Another noted that: "Date is 19 Kislev, 5708 = December 2, 1947" I have his death certificate, so I do know this is the correct death date for Joseph.


For his son, Alfred, the first response noted: "Here lays Anshel son of Joseph, fell on the kiddush hashem for our country on 2 Tamuz tav shin dalet"

The second said: "Some additional information for you. The "Z'L" after the name of the father Yosef indicates that he had predeceased his son." Now, this puzzles me, as I know (see above) that his father, Joseph, died three and a half years later. I'm not sure why this was put on Alfred's stone.

A third reply added: "Might the second line also be rendered as "died a martyr for our country"?" An interesting thought.

And the fourth response clarified the date of death: "Date is 2 Tamuz 5704 = June 23, 1944."  This is the date that Alfred Handler died fighting in New Guinea.


For the other son, Louis, the first response was: "Here lays Arie son of Joseph, fell on the kiddush hashem for our country on 17 Tamuz, Tav shin dalet"

The second response for Louis is the same as for Alfred above, that the Z'L after the name Yosef indicates that he predeceased his son, which we know he didn't.

The third reply: "Date is 17 Tamuz, 5704 = July 8, 1944."  This is the date Louis died fighting in Normandy, France.

And after I had contacted the second responder about my knowledge of these death dates, she replied: "I checked this again for you. Aryeh was the Hebrew name for Louis. He was the son of Yosef/Joseph. Per the letters Z'L, Joseph predeceased his son Louis."  And she suggested I contact the cemetery to see what they show in their records.


And their husband and mother, Lena.

The first response: "Here lies our beloved mother, Libeh Libush, daughter of Samuel, 23 of Adar Tav shin mem nun."

The second: "I believe that the Hebrew date is the 29th day of the month of Adar. Also included are the five Hebrew letters which stand for the often-used phrase "May her soul be bound up in the bonds of eternal life"

The third reply confirms the date: "Hebrew date is 29 Adar 5743." And using a date converter at HebCal, I confirm that this is correct, as I know she died March 14, 1983.

What a fabulous resource JewishGen's ViewMate is and if you do use it, be sure to send a thank you message to the volunteers who are able to help you. I look forward to sharing some Yiddish translations with my readers in the future.


  1. Hi Elizabeth, finally got over to this blog!

    Very neat-- I recently learned that Jewish gravestones typically tell you the name of the deceased's father, which is very helpful.

    And thanks for mentioning ViewMate-- will have to remember this.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. Since you have followed my other blog for awhile, you'll see why I set up this separate one for my husband's family - the research and stories are different from my family and I just felt this family deserved its own blog.