It's the Beth Olem Cemetery, a Jewish graveyard smack dab within the grounds of the General Motors Cadillac Motor Car Plant in Hamtramck. In fact, it sits behind a brick wall in the parking lot.

The cemetery's beginnings were in 1862. An acre of land was bought which was to be used for a graveyard. Some years later into the early 1900s, Detroit's industries were expanding and becoming closer to the cemetery. Would the graveyard and all it's graves be pushed out, demolished, or moved elsewhere? The main Dodge plant popped up in 1910 and the future of the cemetery was in question.

Originally a graveyard out in the distant countryside, Beth Olem soon became surrounded with industry. As the auto industry kept expanding, their buildings, drives, and parking areas made their way around the cemetery, leaving it untouched but hard for relatives to visit their departed. It became necessary to build some kind of a border – and soon a brick wall was constructed all around the cemetery grounds. By the 1940s, the Jewish community figured they had better find a new place for a cemetery. The last burial in Beth Olem took place in 1948, and future burials took place in a new cemetery.

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In 1966, Chrysler, who succeeded Dodge, bought two nearby city blocks, one of which held the Beth Olem Cemetery. Chrysler then proceeded to tear down, demolish, and destroy everything that stood in those two blocks in order to further their industrial expansion.....everything, that is, except for the Beth Olem Cemetery.

Chrysler was blocked from eliminating the graveyard, thanks to Michigan and Halachic law; to further help save the cemetery, Detroit rebuilt the brick graveyard wall.

For eighty years - from 1868-1948 – eleven hundred burials took place here. Relatives of the deceased – and the general public – can visit this graveyard, but only two days out of the year and open just four hours per day. Hours are 10am-2pm on the Sunday before Passover (April) and the Sunday before Rosh Hashonah (September). General Motors currently keeps an eye on the cemetery and opens it up to the public on those days.

Out of General Motors' 362 acres of industry, Beth Olem Cemtery is the only green spot in the whole place. See for yourself in the gallery below.

The Michigan Cemetery That's Only Open 2 Days a Year


Bell Cemetery, Presque Isle County

Duck Lake and Cemetery

The Oldest Cemetery In Lansing

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