JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Rotterdam Gravestone Translation - Aug 26 #general

Jim Bennett <bennett@...>

Rene van Wijngaarden requested a translation his ancestor's
gravestone.The numbers
on my transliterationand translation correspond to the lines on the
"Matzeva" which he posted.

1. Even Zicharon
2. Me'et Hevra Kadisha
3. Menachem Evalim HaHadasha
4. Al Kever
5. Marat Beila bat Avraham Hanum (?)
6. Kleher/Klar, Eshet Moshe Van Daelen
7. Niftara Yud Tet Nissan
8. Taf Resh Het Tzadi Le'F'K (L'Frat Kattan)
9 T'hi Nismata Tzrora B'Tzror HaHaim

1. A Memorial Stone
2-3 >from the New Comforting of Mourners Burial Society
4. On the Grave
5. of Mrs. Beila, daughter of Abraham known as
6. Kleher/Klar ?, wife of Moshe van Daelen
7. Died 19 Nissan
8. 5698 (=1938)
9 May her soul be bound up in the bond of everlasting life!

Notes: The woman might have had no surviving family in Rotterdam at the
time of her death, or they were quite poor, because it seems that the
burial society erected the gravestone at its expense.

The letters Taf Resh Tzadi Het amount to 698. The letter Heh,
the number 5000 is never used. Instead the year is followed by the word
L'Frat Kattan, meaning: by small count. So that the year is really

However, the keen observer will note that in the above text the last two
are reversed. Instead of Taf Resh Tzadi Het, we see Taf Resh Het
Tzadi. The reason is
that the former spells out the Hebrew word Tirtzach, which means
"Murder" in the
imperative form: Go Murder!! So instead of having that year,
5698=1938, known as
Shnat Tirtzach, The Year of Murder, the last two letters were reversed.
This was not
a new concept at the time. It is an ancient tradition. Recently, in
1983-4 we observed
the year Taf Shin Mem Daled, which spells Tashmad, the Hebrew word to
destroy or
obliterate. Then, too, the last two letters were reversed, spelling
Tashdem, which isn't a
real word in Hebrew, but shares the root of Shdema, a field or

By coincidence, in the Van Daelen gravestone, the reversal of the last
two letters caused the
pronunciation of another, totally different Hebrew word: Tirchatz.
Wash or Cleanse. Unhappily,
that year, 1937-8 was far more a year of murder--of Jews in Nazi
Germany--than of cleansing.
Kristallnacht, which occurred in November 1938, fell in the following
year, 5699, which began in
September 1938. Its letter-numbers, Taf Resh Tzadi Tet, spell no word
at all.

In the bulletin board postings of members requesting gravestone
translations, I have noticed
a large amount of misreading of Hebrew letters: Vav, Zain, Nun sofi and
Yud are often
mistaken for one another. Also resh and daled; gimel and nun, heh and
het, chaf and bet,
tet and mem, samech and mem sofi, etc. Also there are problems with the
spacing between
words. Requests should at least be typed with clear spaces between
words, and should
be written line by line, exactly as they appear on the stone itself.
This is for a special reason:
On many stones the first letter in each line (read >from the right, of
course) represents a letter
of a word, which when combined, >from top to bottom, spell out something
important. It's like
a vertical acrostic. Another "hidden message" on gravestones can be
found in letters that are
larger or bolder than the surrounding ones, or that are marked by an
underline or dot below them.
In an e-mail posting it's easy to mark them with an underline, alerting
the translator to
seek the additional meaning.

Jim Bennett, Haifa, Israel

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