Tidbits about Graves in Israel
by Dahn Cukier
I wish to share with everyone various tidbits I’ve learned about Jewish graves in Israel – and a comment about CWGC (UK) from personal experience while searching out graves.
Please direct questions to me. Everything is unofficial and from my experience.
1) There are three types of graves: a) In the ground, with full cover tombstone with or without an upright stone at the head b) Double graves, where 2 people are buried in the same grave, usually with two “pillow” type headstones, or a head stone on the long side.This is only for first degree relatives. I have also seen graves where without reading the inscription, I cannot know it is a double grave. c) In a “wall” where the stone is at the head of the body
2) Not all graves are recorded, not even during the last 70 years. There are graves from the early 1950’s that are not recorded in both Yavneh and Gan Yavneh old cemeteries. This includes as late as 1972 in Gan Yavneh and 1952 in Yavneh. These are 2 graves I searched for and found.
3) The Chevra Kadisha (like a Burial Society) buries and records the names and location of the graves. Many have paper records until the mid-1980’s when computers became more available. Some entered paper records into computers, others did not.
4) Graves without family names. There are graves without family names, and if they are pre-1980’s (see 3 above) they will not be found by family name. I had this in Tviria and Yavneh. In Yavneh I walked around until I found a stone with the correct name and date-of-death, in Tviria I called the Belz center in Jerusalem and they gave me directions.
5) CWGC (Commonwealth Grave Commission). The online data base is only for war years, 4 August 1914 to 13 August 1921 and 3 September 1939 to 31 December 1947. If you search for a person who died during the Mandate, but not during the “war years”, that person is not listed. Write the MoD for a location.
6) IDF Graves: The IDF has a database, but again not every grave is listed.
7) Mistakes in DB- There are, from my experience, 10% discrepancies between online databases and stones, and that is only in the names. There may be a double letter, that is recorded once, a dalet recorded as a vav, missed middle names, etc. Only a few databases are online, but hopefully more will be brought online so the records can be crowd corrected.
8) Names of first marriage recorded Sometimes a couple may live together, but either not marry or a person wishes to be buried with a first spouse. The name of the second husband may not get recorded. The family name of the first husband is on the stone.
9) Children, spouses and mothers are not usually recorded in records. The father’s name is recorded – women sometimes with a father’s family name. The burial society does not seem to record any but the father’s name.
10) Hebrew names. The names are most likely to be recorded in Hebrew, but I have found some in English or French. IE. A name such as Chaim (Charles) may be recorded as Charles.
11) Cemeteries, As more and more space is needed, more cemeteries are created.Many towns and cities have more than one, or have their own when they once used an area cemetery. An example is Raanana, where moshav Givat Chen used the cemetery on Klausner, but now has their own cemetery. Many cities also have old and new cemeteries.
12) Inscriptions. Some early (pre-1940) (but not all) graves have no inscriptions or inscriptions that cannot be read.
13) Plots. Plots and burial are paid for by the Betuach Leumi (like Social Security in the US), but if a person wants to be buried next to a spouse or in a selected section, they can buy a plot. The Betuach Leumi will pay then for the burial. Another option is having a double grave (see 1b), and I understand this needs to be decided before the first death.
14) Betuach Leumi should have a data base of all burials of Israel citizens with locations of plots. The data is accessible by officials, but searching is only by ID number. If anyone knows when their database began, I would appreciate knowing.
15) What is written in stone, is what the person ordering the stone writes. Only the date of death may be correct, the birth name, date of birth, etc. may be unknown to even close family.
16) Online Data. The following have online databases: Tel Aviv, Haifa, Petach Tikva, the armies IDF and UK. Only the CWGC is NOT in Hebrew.
www.kadisha.biz – – Tel Aviv;
http://www.sgula.org – – Petach Tikva;
www.izkor.gov.il – – IDF;
www.cwgc.org – – UK (war years);
http://kadisha.net – – Haifa