Re: Translation Help -- Yiddish or Hebrew #general
Judith Romney Wegner
At 8:40 PM -0700 6/5/06, Stewart Bernstein wrote:
This was very interesting so I am replying to the group at large.
First, you are correct that VM 7929 is written in a European
language (which I can't translate, but could be Polish). The reason
it "does not look like Yiddish" (as you put it) is because Yiddish
is traditionally written in Hebrew characters -- never in Latin
characters; transliteration into Latin alphabet letters is only a
modern concession for the benefit of those who have lost the ability
to readthe Hebrew alphabet.
Second, the stone has an interesting (and in one respect rather
puzzling) inscription. It is of course in Hebrew -- they normally are
-- except that this one happens to gives the man's surname, obviously
in Yiddish; it also gives the Yiddish word "gestorben" (meaning
"died") right before the date.
The first two lines are in Hebrew:
'eyneynu yor'dot mayim 'al petirat avinu ha-yaqar
"our eyes drip with water[i.e., tears] on the departure of our dear father"
The inscription does NOT mention either "Berl" or "Golda." In
fact it does not mention any woman at all, only the man who is buried
there. His Hebrew name was Gershon ben R. Abraham Lev Niestenfaver.
Note that the "R." stands for "Reb" -- which means simply "Mr." and
not "Rabbi" as people often mistakenly suppose. (The surname as
written looks more like Niestenfauver -- (with an "n" in the middle,
not an "m" -- and with a double "vav", which normally indicates a
consonantal "v" sound) (If you have European language documents
referring to this person, that will prsumably solve the
name-pronunciation for you. (But it definitely has an "n" in the
middle, not an "m.")
The date is a bit of a mystery; it says 15th of something or other
1930, but he month is blurred in this photograph and hard to read.
It looks like mem aleph bet, which could stand for the Hebrew month
Menahem-Av (which is the full name of the month of Av). If so, this
corresponded with August 9th in 1930. But the next line seems to
contradict that date, it appears to say 8th Heshvan (which
corresponded with 30th October in 1930). I can't explain this
discrepancy, does anyone have any ideas?
Finally the five large Hebrew letters at the bottom are a standard
abbreviation found on all traditional Jewish gravestones They stand
for the Hebrew words t'hi nafsho ts'rurah bi-tsror ha-hayyim, which
means "may his soul be bound up in the bond of [eternal] life."
I hope someone can solve the mystery of those two discrepant dates!
Judith Romney Wegner
MODERATOR NOTE: Ordinarily we ask for ViewMate responses to be sent privately,
but Dr Wegner has raised some points that public posting may help resolve.