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The Matzeivah

The matzeivah is a stone monument erected at the grave of a loved one, to formally and permanently mark the site of the grave. Jewish tradition prescribes the placement of a monument on the grave of a loved one as a sign of love and respect and as part of the mitzvah of honoring and remembering the deceased.

What should be engraved on the monument?

Traditionally, Jewish monuments have included two basic pieces of information:

  • The deceased’s Hebrew Name, so that the name will always be remembered
  • The deceased Hebrew date of death, so that future generations will always know when the Yahrzeit is

In America, it is customary to include the English name, English dates of birth and death, and a short epitaph. At the bottom of the monument, it is traditional to include the inscription:

ת נ צ ב ה

This translates to “May/his/her/their soul(s) be bound up in the bond of life”

Headstone Jewish Star

What is the meaning of the different symbols used on monuments?

Magen David (Star of David)

Star of David

The universal symbol for “Jewish”, this symbol serves as a means of identification and connection with the Jewish people.

Two Hands with Thumbs Touching

Two Hands

This symbol is for a man who is a Kohayn. It is symbolic of the Priestly Benediction with which the Kohanim are commanded to bless the Jewish people.

Water and Pitcher Bowl

Water Pitcher

This symbolizes a Levi, and their role is assisting the Kohanim.

Menorah or Sabbath Candlesticks

Menorah

A frequently used symbol for women, the Menorah or Sabbath candlesticks reflect a woman’s traditional role as the mainstay of the Jewish home.

Holocaust Survivor

Holocaust Survivor

This symbol is often used to indicate the deceased as a survivor of the Holocaust.

Department of the Army

Army

This symbol is often used to indicate the deceased as an army veteran.

In addition to these, there are also symbols used for members of the military, fraternal organizations, and for various professions. Our monument specialists are here to advise you on the selection of the most appropriate and meaningful symbols to commemorate your loved one.

The matzeivah is a stone monument erected at the grave of a loved one to formally mark the site.
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