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In a written list of names I need to indicate which people have passed away. We normally use a dagger symbol for this. A dagger † in most appearances looks like a cross, a Christian symbol. Is it still appropriate to apply to Jewish people? If not, what is appropriate?

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  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/6309/5323 – Shokhet Feb 6 '15 at 22:03
  • Perhaps you could clarify the nature of the writing? Is this for a book? An academic journal? Who is the audience? – Daniel Feb 8 '15 at 1:53
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    Is the dagger used because of its resemblance to a cross/tombstone? – Double AA Feb 8 '15 at 18:19
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I certainly would not like the dagger † to be placed after my name if I were no longer alive.

The related question provides several possibilities amongst which the following seem most appropriate (to be used after the name). ע״ה = alav/aleha hashalom "Peace be upon him/her" ז״ל = zichrono/ah livracha "May his/her/their memory be a blessing"

I see that the abbreviation “dec.” can be used for deceased if the Hebrew characters are a problem.

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    Or just use a"h / z"l if Hebrew characters don't work. – Scimonster Feb 7 '15 at 20:34
  • Would you be offended if they used the english lower case letter "t"? – Double AA Feb 8 '15 at 18:18
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As Avrohom Yitzchok already mentioned, the cross may not go over so well.

Some alternatives are ע"ה (a"h) and ז"ל (z"l) [as mentioned before]; זצ"ל (zt"l) [may the memory of a righteous one be for blessing] is another good option, as well as OB"M [of blessed memory].

If we're talking about a list of people, some of whom are alive, and some of whom are not, then I've seen an asterisk (*) used for this effect.

Picture of a list of names, one of which has an asterisk next to it. There is a matching asterisk on the bottom of the page, next to the word, "Deceased."

(picture taken from the list of the "International Board of Directors" at the front of the Artscroll Interlinear Shabbos Siddur [first edition])

  • Well found for the asterisk in the Artscroll Interlinear Shabbos Siddur! – Avrohom Yitzchok Feb 8 '15 at 10:19
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If this is a list for a general audience, feel free to use the standard dagger symbol (†)—it’s standard, everyone knows what it means, and if you start choosing different symbols for different people based on their faiths you’ll never be done!

(There are fonts in which the dagger symbol looks less like a cross than in other fonts; if you want to be extra careful to avoid offense [or if you just happen to like the decorative look] you might consider using such a font, at least for that one symbol. The discussion at http://typophile.com/node/10860 might help you choose something you like.)

If this list is specifically aimed at a Jewish audience, your readers would likely be more comfortable if you avoided the dagger symbol entirely; in that case see the answers by Avrohom Yitzchok and Shokhet.

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