In Detroit, Jewish Cemetery Survives Within GM Auto Plant

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12 May 2015

Beth Olem Cemetery is like many aging, final resting places, with assorted tombstones in varying condition, sizes and styles, encircled by a brick wall and iron gate.

Yet surrounding it on all sides is an unusual neighbor: a massive automotive plant.

The serene, green oasis is enveloped by the steel and concrete structures and grounds of General Motors Co.’s Detroit Hamtramck Plant, which makes Chevrolet Volts, Cadillacs and other cars. To maintain plant security, public access to the cemetery is limited to a couple days a year – typically Sundays nearest to the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Passover – and some special requests. This year, the opening around Passover was postponed a month until this past Sunday, when a couple dozen people showed up.

The 2.2-acre, 1,100-grave Jewish cemetery with burials ranging from the late 1860s to the late 1940s, has survived through historical quirks. The biggest was an agreement ironed out about 35 years ago to preserve the cemetery when GM got Michigan Supreme Court approval of its contentious bid to demolish roughly 1,500 homes and businesses, several churches and a hospital so it could build a new plant.

Read the full story from Associated Press.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.