Cemeteries, particularly Jewish cemeteries, are treasure troves of genealogy information. Jewish gravestones almost always provide certain key facts about an individual (sometimes difficult to find elsewhere): the Hebrew names of the deceased and their father and the date of death. Some include other facts, such as the mother's name or the name of the town they were from. However, many gravestones go beyond factual information and express personal qualities of the deceased that may have only been known by those who knew them closely at the time (perhaps centuries ago) and convey deep emotions through poetic language or intricately carved symbols.

The Hebrew found on Jewish gravestones is often difficult to decipher, even for those well versed in the language, because it is often written with frequent use of acronyms and abbreviations. Even when words are expressed in full, their contextual meanings often differ in nuanced ways from their dictionary defintions.

Some convenient and useful, though by no means comprehensive, online references are:

The basics:


More detailed lists:



An excellent reference book is:

A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery, by Rabbi Joshua L. Segal