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September 16, 1988 - Image 56

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-09-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



RAYNA KOGAN
(313) 626-6430

ANN ARBOR

GOING TO THE AIRPORT?
BUSINESS OR VACATION



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Linda and Paul Zlotoff
Rochelle and Dr. Arthur Lieberman
Mission Chairmen

58

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1988

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ORLEAN •

An 1870 map of Ann Arbor shows the Jewish burial ground designated
as "private cemetery."

Tombstone Sparks
Search For Roots

STEPHEN H. GOLDSTEIN

Special to The Jewish News

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east courtyard of the
Horace W. Rackham
School of Graduate Studies at
the University of Michigan,
marks the site of Michigan's
first Jewish cemetery.
Refugees from Bohemia
established the cemetery 140
years ago.
Ann Arborite Helen
Aminoff began a three-year
search into the beginnings of
the local Jewish community
in 1980 after some U-M
fraternity members dis-
covered a gravestone, pre-
served face down as a steppi-
ing stone. The stone marked
the grave of Reila Weil, who
died in 1858.
The fraternity members
gave the gravestone to the
B'nai B'rith Hillel Founda-
tion, which then turned it
over to Allan Kensky, then
rabbi of Beth Israel Con-
gregation. Kensky asked
Aminoff, a member of his
synagogue, to research the
gravestone's past.
research
Aminoff's
culminated in the dedication
of the historical marker in
1983. Nearly a century-and-a-
half earlier, Ann Arbor's

small Jewish community was
dominated for a time by the
five Weil brothers.
The family gradually
dispersed and the community
disintegrated as the 19th cen-
tury ended.
"When the Lansky family
settled here in 1895," Aminoff
said, "they were unaware
that previously there had
been an active and thriving
Jewish community in the
area."
Ann Arbor's more recent
Jews, Aminoff said, "knew
there were Jews before them,"
however. Reila Weil's tomb-
stone was only one clue; an
1870 map was another.
The map shows a "public
cemetery" between Washing-
ton and Huron streets at the
north end of 12th Street and
a "private cemetery" between
the public cemetery and In-
galls Street. South Ingalls
Street no longer extends to
East Huron Street because of
the Rackham School's con-
struction in 1935. 12th Street
is now Fletcher Street.
In her research, she learn-
ed Michigan law prohibits
building on land that has
been a cemetery in the past
100 years. She then found the
book and page number for the
registered deed for the land
and payment to the Weis

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