When someone dies, there are a number of conventions Jews use.
One is, upon hearing the death of someone, is to pronounce the “blessing”: Barukh Dayan emes. It means, “Blessed [be] the True Judge.” It is unique among the “blessings” of Judaism in that it does not follow the usual pattern (“Barukh atta haShem…” “Blessed art Thou, O L-rd”). In fact, it has none of the proper names of God. It seems a little strange, but is an important reinforcement of the belief that God is just, truly just, in all He does.
As it is written: “HaShem nosan, v’haShem loqoch; y’hi sheim haShem m’vorokh” (Iyyov 1:21), which means “the L-rd gave, (and/then) the L-rd takes away; blessed be the name of the L-rd” (Job 1:21).
After the names of the deceased, various honorifics are added. This is part of honoring the dead. (There are some abbreviations or statements added after the names of evil people who have died as well, but I won’t get into it.) The most common is a”h from “alav hashalom” or “aleha hashalom”, which means “upon him be peace” and “upon her be peace” respectively. It may be used for anyone.
Another honorific is: z”l from “zichrono livrakha” or “zichronah livracha” which means “may his memory be a blessing” and “may her memory be a blessing”, and sometimes translated as “of blessed memory.” It is often used for rabbis or other prominent people who have died.
Another one is ztz”l from “zecher tzadiq livrakha” which means “may the memory of the righteous be a blessing”. This is used for particularly prominent and/or pious people.
Tomorrow: the Kaddish.
Dedicated to the memory and zechus of Cranky z”l. May the souls of the the deceased merit a place in Gan Eiden. Omein.
Hu ya’asei sholom bimoromov, Hu ya’asei sholom oleini v’al kol Yisroeil. V’imru: omein. Omein!