Tombstones in the old Jewish cemetery

It may seem a bit morbid to include photos of burial stones in this celebration book.  But cemeteries are a source of information for historians, so I’m including what I found with some suggestions about what kinds of information you might find on such stones.

Five of the first six siblings in the US (Charles, Harry, Peshe, Anna, Minnie), their spouses, their mother, and 2 children (Louis Goodkin and Anne Goodkin Paley) were buried in a small orthodox Jewish cemetery in Schenectady, NY. Abraham and other Hatkoff descendents are in a Jewish cemetery in Albany, NY (Sons of Abraham, Fuller Road).  Some of their tombstones are shown here also.

The orthodox shul that originally managed the old Schenectady cemetery is long gone, but the grounds are kept up by the current conservative congregation in Schenectady (I think the Congregation Beth Israel), and it is near several other Jewish cemeteries where more family members are buried.  These are part of a group of Jewish cemeteries in Schenectady called the Jewish Memorial Park Cemeteries.  Georgie Paul and Davis Etkin took me to there in 2007 and that’s when i took the photos shown below.

The International Jewish Cemetery Project lists the Jewish cemeteries in the Albany/Schenectady region.

If you read Hebrew, you’ll get more out of these photos than I did on my own, but I’ve included some of what I’ve learned about reading old burial stones for those of you who didn’t keep up your Hebrew studies.


Merke Leh

The old tombstone of Bubbe (Merke Leh Paikin Hatkoff) (below left) lies flat on the ground.  A newer stone (below right) was put up later by her children.

The stone lying on the ground is hard to read. from what I can make out, the Hebrew looks a lot like what is on the newer stone.

The first two hebrew letters on either side of a central design (in this case a 5 candle menorah but on other stones you’ll see a star of David) are “po nikbar” and mean “here lies.”  Typically the person’s first name is next, followed by

daughter (0r son) of…,  then the date and year of death.  Sometimes stones also have words like “our beloved mother.” The 2nd line here looks like Merke Leh, but I don’t know if that includes her father’s name.

At the end,

means “May her soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.” 

I assume the Hebrew year should be something like 5696, but I must have been doing it wrong because I ended up with 5565.


The letters below are what I can make out on the stone.  I don’t read or speak Hebrew, so If any of you can do a better job of translating, please give it a try (and let me know).  It’s possible that I misread some of the Hebrew letters. It was hard for me to distinguish daled from reshe and taf from hey. And sometimes I could find dots but other times it wasn’t clear if it was a letter or a vowel or a scratch.


DIED 1936

AGE 77

Harry and Peshe Abramson

*Tzvi or tzevi means “deer” as does “Hersch,” so read right to left on the 2nd  line,
Tzevi (Harry) Ben (son of) B’ruch   The 3rd line right to left reads Died on Adar

Charles and Anna Hatkoff


Anna and Meyer Paul


The Minnie and Meyer Goodkin Family


Meyer and their 11 year old son died in the 1918-19 flu epidemic and are buried together.

Simon and Ethel Etkin

Davis Etkin visiting family cemetery in 2007

Abraham and Dora Hatkoff family

Albany, New York