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How to Read a Jewish Headstone or Memorial Marker

There are several standard ways that Jewish headstones and memorial markers convey information about the deceased:

At the top of most Jewish tombstones is the abbreviation 'פנּ, which stands for po nikbar or po nitman, meaning “here lies.”

At the bottom of most Jewish tombstones you will often find an abbreviation ת נ צ ב ה of a verse from the Bible, the first book of Samuel, 25:29, “May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.”

The other Hebrew text on a headstone or memorial marker will be the deceased’s Hebrew name. This is followed by the Hebrew בן, ben, “son of” or בת, bat, “daughter of,” followed by the person’s father’s given name and perhaps the mother's as well.

Dates can use the Western calendar or Jewish calendar. To convert the Jewish calendar year to the Western calendar year, add 1240 to the often-used shortened version of the Jewish calendar—which leaves off the 5 in years after 5000. For example, if the Jewish calendar year is 5683, add 1240 to 683 to determine that the year in question is 1923 in the Western calendar.