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In Detroit, 19th-century Jewish cemetery survives within massive GM auto plant

  • In a photo from Sunday, May 10, 2015, in Hamtramck, Mich., Gino Cardillo closes the gates of the Beth Olem Cemetery on the grounds of the General Motors Co.'s Detroit Hamtramck Plant. For plant security, public access is limited to a couple days a year, typically Sundays nearest to the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Passover, and some special events. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    In a photo from Sunday, May 10, 2015, in Hamtramck, Mich., Gino Cardillo closes the gates of the Beth Olem Cemetery on the grounds of the General Motors Co.'s Detroit Hamtramck Plant. For plant security, public access is limited to a couple days a year, typically Sundays nearest to the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Passover, and some special events. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)  (The Associated Press)

  • In a photo from Sunday, May 10, 2015, in Hamtramck, Mich., Barbara Morse walks with her son-in-law, Ben Geller and grandchildren after visiting the grave site of her great-grandmother, Vichna Benstein, at the Beth Olem Cemetery on the grounds of the General Motors Co.'s Detroit Hamtramck Plant. Public access to the green oasis is limited to a couple days a year, including this past Sunday.  (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    In a photo from Sunday, May 10, 2015, in Hamtramck, Mich., Barbara Morse walks with her son-in-law, Ben Geller and grandchildren after visiting the grave site of her great-grandmother, Vichna Benstein, at the Beth Olem Cemetery on the grounds of the General Motors Co.'s Detroit Hamtramck Plant. Public access to the green oasis is limited to a couple days a year, including this past Sunday. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)  (The Associated Press)

  • In a photo from Sunday, May 10, 2015, in Hamtramck, Mich., the closed gates of the Beth Olem Cemetery are seen on the grounds of the General Motors Co.'s Detroit Hamtramck Plant. For plant security, public access is limited to a couple days a year _ typically Sundays nearest to the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Passover _ and some special events. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    In a photo from Sunday, May 10, 2015, in Hamtramck, Mich., the closed gates of the Beth Olem Cemetery are seen on the grounds of the General Motors Co.'s Detroit Hamtramck Plant. For plant security, public access is limited to a couple days a year _ typically Sundays nearest to the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Passover _ and some special events. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)  (The Associated Press)

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

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

The green oasis sits within the grounds of General Motors Co.'s Detroit Hamtramck Plant, which makes Chevrolet Volts and Cadillacs. Public access is limited to a couple days a year, including this past Sunday.

The Jewish cemetery survives through historical quirks — particularly a pact reached about 35 years ago to preserve the cemetery as GM sought to demolish a neighborhood and build a plant.

Visitors included Susan Brodsky, who saw her great-grandfather's grave for the first time. The connection was made through a daughter's college genealogy project.