... as it flew high up into the sky


The Hebrew grave inscriptions lead, particularly within the genealogical research usually only a shadowy and rarely get the status that they should have.

Below therefore a kind of plea for the high relevance of Hebrew grave inscriptions for genealogical research:

The inscriptions take since 12/13. Century increasingly post-biblical, rabbinic turns on. ...
The crucial change is reflected in the free-designed Eulogie, It marks a change in the position which is now placed at the center of the deceased. His praise no longer expressed only in attributes, but also in the most schematic view his way of life.
The peak of development towards detailed narrative individualbiografisch is reached in the 18th century and remains largely in the 19th century at this level. If now receive more and more people long eulogies, but many inscriptions still remain short and say only the idealized Main. Behind it is usually less substantive or stylistic choices hide than economic reasons.

Brocke and others (eds.), Hidden splendor. The Jewish cemetery Hamburg-Altona. Ashkenazi grave times, Dresden undated, introduction

An excellent introduction to the Hebrew grave inscription found on the Website of the Salomon Ludwig Steinheim Institute, eine kurze Zusammenfassung mit Schwerpunkt auf den hebräischen Abkürzungen in einer hebräischen Grabinschrift auch bei uns im Blog “At the Jewish cemetery III“.

Biographical / Genealogical information in the Eulogy

Narrating detail individualbiografisch“: Damit sind wir unmittelbar im Spannungsfeld zwischen hebräischer Grabinschrift und Matrikeneinträgen in deutscher oder ungarischer Sprache.

Thus died about Heinrich Austerlitz 1909 with 74 years, his wife Katharina 1921 with 80 years. In the Geburtsmatriken children were to be found. nor could they, since an accurate reading of the long Hebrew grave inscription makes it clear that the couple had no children in 50 years of their joint married (and apparently wanted to remain so), because in line 10 we read:

He had no children; worth more than sons and daughters was the good name he had acquired it.

To put it bluntly: genealogists, any search in the parish registers and other sources can save if they take into account, also long Hebrew grave inscription the lines 9 to 11th Because then it is clear that Wilhelm (Benjamin Seev) HirschenhauserDied Aug. 14, 1910, had no children.:

He loved his family and the members of his family and was to them a helper and supporter during the period when they married their daughters.

Wenn etwa nicht allgemein “Kinder”, sondern explizit “Töchter” oder “Söhne” in der hebräischen Grabinschrift genannt werden, kann man sich auch aus genealogischer Sicht darauf verlassen. So hatten Samuel (Sanwel) Windholz and Betti (Bella) Windholz, geb. KohlmannThree sons but no daughters:

Even your sons you have taught the path of faith.

Grabinschrift Samuel Windholz

As a good and reliable mother tried to guide their children and educate them on the [Sources] of happiness and in the ways of straightforwardness.

Grabinschrift Betti Windholz

It is not only that part of the grave inscription, we Eulogy (praise) call (see above quote), we have to use for biographical associations and genealogical research (!), But in addition to the dates (see below) and places (Died bath Ischl “Er verstarb in Bad Ischl”) vor allem auch die hebräischen Namen (s.u.) sowie die mit diesen verbundenen Titel (“Rabbi“, “the Toragelehrte“, “the rabbis woman” etc.), Statusbeschreibungen (“the unmarried man“, “the girl“, “the widow” etc.), Segenswünsche (s.u.) und Altersangaben (s.u.).

Some examples from inscriptions from the older and younger Jewish cemetery in Eisenstadt may illustrate this. Alone on the two Jewish cemeteries Eisenstadt there are hundreds of examples that demonstrate the high relevance of the Hebrew grave inscription for genealogical research, only a small selection:

The Hebrew name (Synagogalname) versus real name

Advance a Reading: Tell me what your name is ... (Jewish General)

In Hebrew grave inscriptions we only find the Hebrew names of both women and men (ie “Schwarzl” und nicht “Charlotte” and “Mordechai Zvi” und nicht “Armin” etc.). There are bourgeois names in inscriptions in Eisenstadt only very occasionally and only as a complement to the younger Jewish cemetery in German or Hungarian language (see left).

In der heute 2., ursprünglich 1. Reihe, der sogenannten “Rabbinerreihe”, wo die großen schöpferischen Gelehrten begraben sind, findet sich am jüngeren jüdischen Friedhof kein einziger nicht hebräischer Buchstabe!

A mE particularly fine example of the mention of a Hebrew name is the Hebrew grave inscription of the prematurely deceased at age 27 Juliana (Jentel) Machlup, D. 1838 and buried at the older Jewish cemetery in Eisenstadt.
The father of Juliana's Jona KlaberWhich is also buried at the old Jewish cemetery.
Das hebräische Wortspiel “junge Taube = Tochter des Jona” (hebr. “jona” = “Taube”) ist faszinierend, wobei der ganze Satz wohl als Euphemie für das Sterben interpretiert werden darf:

... and when the time for the young pigeon (daughter of Jonah) was approaching, as she flew high up into the sky.

Often esp. Also the Hebrew name was in Matrikeneinträgen in Geburtsmatriken, registered, which is however unfortunately ignored by many genealogists.

Geburtsmatriken Eisenstadt 1858

Geburtsmatriken Eisenstadt 1858

Please note: Aus hebräischen Namen lässt sich nicht verlässlich auf bürgerliche Namen schließen (wie oft angenommen) und vice versa! Zwar häufen sich gewisse Regelmäßigkeiten wie hebräisch “Mordechai” und bürgerlich “Max” oder “Markus”, “Rösl” und “Theresia” usw., aber es gibt genügend Beispiele, die ein ganz anderes Bild zeichnen:
So, as the Hebrew name of Alexander HessSaul“, der hebräische Name von Alexander PollakSusskind” und der hebräische Name von Alexander WärndorferSalomo Judah“. Die Liste lässt sich beliebig fortsetzen.

When reading Matrikeneinträgen therefore should not be assumed that the Hebrew name is nothing more than a kind of translation of bourgeois name!

were Mattersdorf / -burg about Regina (Rebecca) Trebitsch Kohn and Regina (Rachel) Trebitsch Kohn sisters. The real name was almost just a formality, any family history work can only through the Hebrew names that were also the usual family composite nickname, lead to serious results.

But the Hebrew name can often be about even in probate records, death records and so tip the scales for a unique genealogical association:

Son of Torah scholars, The honorable gentleman, Mr Mordechai Reitlinger, his memory should be preserved ...

Bestellschein für den Grabstein von Moritz (Mose) Reitlinger

Order form for the grave stone of Moritz (Moses) Reitlinger, d. 02 April 1846
© image: Georg Gaugusch, Vienna

The year panels - another primary source

The Matrikeneinträge left with the mother of Regina Breyer many questions unanswered, a safe genealogical assignment was at all possible with the inclusion of Year Chronology: “Rachele, Tochter der Beautiful Chaja” (Hess, jung gest. 28. Mai 1827, begraben am älteren jüdischen Friedhof in Eisenstadt).

Jahrzeittafel Regina (Rachele) Breyer

Year panel Regina (Rachele) Breyer


Usually we find very approximate ages as old manhochbetagt“, an oldalt” oder returnGreisenalter“.
exalted etwa bedeutet “sublime“, wird aber fast ausschließlich nur bei Männern in höherem Alter verwendet. Häufig kommen alle Ausdrücke nebeneinander bzw. in einer Inschrift vor, siehe etwa Samuel Schneider, D. 05 May 1928 Line 2 and 9.

Occasionally, more accurate ages come into the Hebrew grave inscriptions of the two Jewish cemeteries in Eisenstadt and above, such as in the inscription of Samuel (Nataniel) SchönbergerGesture. 04. May 1911:

He died at an advanced age, when he came to forces (= after reaching 80 years of age)

Vgl. Psalm 90,10 “(Unser Lebensalter beträgt 70 Jahre,) und wenn sie in Kräften sind, 80 Jahre…” ... if the working eighty years ... und babylonischer Talmud, Traktat Avot V,25 “…80 Jahre alt zum hohen Alter…” ... eighty Heroes ...

Samuel (Nataniel) Schoenberger died, according Sterbematriken 79 years.


“Wie das Amen im Gebet” folgt hinter dem Namen eines Verstorbenen / einer Verstorbenen der Segenswunsch “to him / her be peace“, “his rest may be the Garden of Eden” oder “his memory may be preserved“, bei besonders Gelehrten “the memory of the just may be preserved” o.ä.
Nicht ganz so regelmäßig und verlässlich ist der Segenswunsch bei noch lebenden Verwandten: “His light may shine” (z.B. Hendel Hess) O.a.

A seemingly little carelessness in reading the blessing desire on line 12 of the Hebrew grave inscription Sprinze ChajaDied in 1879, led for 20 years to fatal consequences in the genealogy assigning Sprinze Haya (even though the Hebrew inscription was published in 1995 by me).:

Line 10: There gathered with her on the day of her burial the sons
Line 11: her first husband, the chairman and the head of the community,
Line 12: H (err) Abraham Loeb Reitlinger and (uf it was) F (riede)

  • Durch den Segenswunsch “upon him be peace” wird unmissverständlich klar, dass der genannte Ehemann Abraham Löb Reitlinger beim Ableben von Franziska (Sprinze Chaja), 1879, nicht mehr am Leben ist, demzufolge nicht 1907 gestorben sein kann, wie lange angenommen wurde. Tatsächlich starb er am 14. September 1826 in Wien.
  • Durch korrektes Berücksichtigen des Segenswunsches in Verbindung mit Zeile 11 der Inschrift wird klar, dass Sprinze Chaja jedenfalls ein zweites Mal geheiratet haben muss (weil sonst “first husband” keinen Sinn macht). Dieser zweite Ehemann dürfte weiters (Vermutung nur aufgrund des Textbefundes der drei Zeilen der Inschrift) 1879 nicht mehr am Leben sein, da er sonst höchstwahrscheinlich genannt worden wäre. Tatsächlich wird Franziska Reitlinger/Sabl in der Konskriptionsliste von 1836 bereits als Witwe geführt, der (vermutliche) zweite Ehemann, NN Sabl, war also zum Zeitpunkt ihres Ablebens auch schon mindestens 43 Jahre lang tot.
  • Weiters ist die Angabe “die sons her first husband ...” (wörtlich: “her sons…“) in der hebräischen Grabinschrift korrekt, da zum Zeitpunkt des Todes von Sprinze Chaja ihre einzige Tochter bereits verstorben war und nur die vier Söhne gemeint sein können.

Ausschnitt Grabinschrift Sprinze Chaja Reitlinger

Neck grave inscription Sprinze Haya Reitlinger
red border line 12 and the Segenswunsch

The date of death

The date of death, if necessary, the date of birth, is in Hebrew inscriptions only after Jewish calendar specified. Here, especially to be observed two special features:

  1. The month Tishri, Cheshvan, Kislev and Tevet are always in the new Jewish year (in Tevet usually a date in December or January of the following year). Rosalia (Süssl) Figdor died on October 12, 1905 according to the Jewish date but already on 13 Tishri 666th
  2. The Jewish day always begins the evening at sunset. Leopold (Jude called Loeb) Machlup died on May 13, 1914 at 23 o'clock, according to the Jewish calendar but already on 18 Iyar.

The businessman Moses Elias Gelles died, according to Hebrew grave inscription that can be read clearly even today (see below picture), buried on 08 Iyar 625, converted Thursday, May 04, 1865 in Bruck an der Leitha and the older Jewish cemetery in Eisenstadt. In the Hebrew inscription and the weekday (Day 5 = Thursday) is specified.

Ausschnitt Grabinschrift Moses Elias Gelles

Neck grave inscription Moses Elias Gelles

In den Sterbematriken findet sich allerdings das Sterbedatum 04. Juni 1865 (also Datumsdifferenz von 1 Monat!). Der Sterbeeintrag wurde offensichtlich nachgetragen und trägt die “laufende Nummer” 11a.

To make matters primavista difficult is that there is in the Sterbematriken death date in Hebrew, and as follows:

A Beha'aloscha: “am 1. Tag (Sonntag) der (Woche der) Parascha / des Toraabschnitts ‘Wenn du die Lampen anzündest’ (Numeri 8,1)”, und das ist im Jahr 625 / 1865 Sonntag, der 10. Siwan = 04. Juni! Dies bedeutet, dass das hebräische Datum eindeutig das bürgerliche Sterbedatum des Sterbeeintrags heranzieht und quasi zwar korrekt rückrechnet, dennoch aber letztlich das falsche Datum liefert. Erwartungsgemäß wird nicht das Datum der hebräischen Grabinschrift genommen, da der Matrikeneintrag bereits im Juni 1865 erfolgte, der Grabstein mit der Grabinschrift aber sehr wahrscheinlich erst am 1. Jahrzeittag, also am 04. Mai 1866, gesetzt wurde.

It may therefore virtually certain to be assumed that the Matrikenführer May mistook June and earned death date wrong (yet especially since there is no entry in May).

An interesting example where neither the (civil) Matrikeneintrag nor the Hebrew Matrikeneintrag but the Hebrew date in the grave inscription of the most reliable supplier date.

Matriken Tod Moses E. Gelles

Matriken Tod Moses E. Gelles

Especially with corrupt and nachgetragenen Matrikeneinträgen it is an enormous advantage to have the Hebrew grave inscription available or to consider this just accordingly.

A conciliatory epilogue

As much as I non-performance or to-little-compliance with the Hebrew grave inscriptions and other Hebrew sources (such as year boards, Hebrew entries in the parish registers, etc.) regret in genealogical research !, it is the beautiful language often with so much wisdom and Love written inscriptions that most fascinates me still.

The frequently noted in Sterbematriken death plays no or only a very minor role (exception: personal interest) for genealogists. Likewise, we rarely find in Hebrew grave inscriptions an indication of the cause of death (except martyrs, plague victims, etc.).

Every now and then but found a particularly beautiful word:

Elias (Abraham) Gabriel died on 12 Adar I 638 (15 February 1878)

with a divine kiss at the age of 71 years ...

Vgl. babylonischer Talmud, Traktat Moed Qatan 28a und Baba Batra 17a “…und Mirjam starb ebenfalls (d.h. wie Mose) mit einem (göttlichen) Kuss (d. h. ohne Qual und Schmerz)…” ... Although Miriam died kiss Nami ... S. auch Berachot 8a “…die leichteste (Todesart) ist der Kuss(tod)…” ... Okay Mechelen kiss ...

Elias (Abraham) Gabriel died an easy death and is buried in the original series rabbi at younger Jewish cemetery in Eisenstadt.