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I'm editing a translation of a yizkor book. It contains a full-page essay/tribute to a rabbi. The closing line of the essay has the author's name, followed by ז׳׳ק and I'm unsure how it should be translated. Your suggestions are most welcome.

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The Wikipedia entry says:

שם משפחה יהודי, אשכנזי, לעתים מאוית עם מרכה (ז״ק), ראשי תיבות של זרע קדושים:

that Zak is a Jewish family name, sometimes written with inverted commas to indicate that the letters are the initials of Zera Kodoshim (= coming from holy stock or origins)

So depending on the context, this could be the family name or an indication of the holy ancestors from whom the person originated.

Wikipedia on “Jewish Surnames” notes

Permanent family surnames exist today but only gained popularity among Sephardic Jews in Iberia and elsewhere as early as the 10th or 11th century and did not spread widely to the Ashkenazic Jews of Germany or Eastern Europe until the 18th and 19th century, where the adoption of German surnames was imposed in exchange for Jewish emancipation.

When these German surnames were adopted some families made up surnames the letters of which were the initials of the message they wanted to convey. Thus the family Shick intended that their surname should signify

שי"ק -- "שם ישראל קדוש", או "שלמים יראים קדושים

“The Jewish name is holy” or “Wholly fearing (of God) and holy”.

Maybe the Zak surname had a similar idea.

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It could be short for "zacher kadosh livrochoh" - "may the remembrance of this holy person be a blessing" (especially if the Rabbi in question was murdered because he was a Jew. I don't know why there's no 'lamed').

  • Would it make sense that it goes immediately after (on the same like) as the name of the author? – Fitter Man Aug 16 '16 at 1:32
  • @FitterMan - Yes [I'm assuming you meant to write, "(on the same line as)"]. But, as I pointed out at the end of my answer, I've never seen it without a 'lamed' for 'livrochoh'. – Jay Aug 16 '16 at 1:47

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