Wednesday, October 22, 2008


What is a Graveyard Rabbit?
What is an Arnevet Beth Olam?

They are the exact same thing, depending upon whether you speak English or Hebrew.

Terry Thornton, founder of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits describes the reasoning behind his selection of the term Graveyard Rabbits.

In the white moonlight, where the willow waves,
He halfway gallops among the graves---
A tiny ghost in the gloom and gleam,
Content to dwell where the dead men dream,

Over the shimmering slabs he goes---
Every grave in the dark he knows;
But his nest is hidden from human eye
Where headstones broken on old graves lie.

-- from The Graveyard Rabbit by Frank Lebby Stanton (complete poem on Terry Thornton’s site)

Member blogs are devoted exclusively to cemeteries, grave markers, and burial customs and thus promote the study of cemeteries, the preservation of cemeteries, and the transcription of genealogical/historical information that is written in cemeteries.

The Association of Graveyard Rabbits asks its members to focus on a limited community. Arnevet Beth Olam – St. Louis will focus on Jewish cemeteries in the St. Louis, Missouri metropolitan area.

A note about myself: I am a member of a Reform Jewish Congregation in St. Louis, and have family roots in St. Louis going back to the late 1880s. I do not speak Hebrew, and had to use an English-Hebrew dictionary to come up with a translation for the name of this blog. From my research, “Arnevet” is closer in meaning to a ‘Coney’ or ‘Hare’ but is usually used for ‘Rabbit.” “Beth Olam” literally means “House of Eternity” and is a common term for a cemetery, though there are others. "Beit Kevarot" (House of Graves) may have been a more literal translation of the English “graveyard,” but I have a preference for the poetic.

The St. Louis Genealogical Society has a good list of Jewish cemeteries in the region, along with an indispensible index of burials for seven of them.

1 comment:

Judith Richards Shubert said...

John, you have done a great job in your translation (with the help of that dictionary!) and I plan to come back to your site often to learn more about the Jewish burial traditions.