Jewish tombstones are an invaluable source of genealogic information. Tombstone inscriptions can provide the deceased’s Jewish religious (“Hebrew”) name(s), original or alternate versions of family surnames, maiden surnames, the names of the deceased’s parents, his or her place of birth, age, profession, rabbinic lineage, community activities, even the names of living family members. But there are common problems that make it difficult for researchers to accurately translate and interpret Jewish tombstone inscriptions.
Using examples from Jewish tombstones, the presentation will focus on building skills in understanding an inscription’s context, determining the accuracy of the information presented, Jewish naming conventions, recognizing Kohain and Levite status and symbols, identifying rabbinic status, interpreting honorifics, and understanding Hebrew calendar dates and abbreviations. The presentation will also suggest best practices for on-site cemetery visits and tombstone photography.
This program is made possible by support from the William M. Lowenstein Genealogical Research Endowment Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation.