Michigan's First Cemetery Site

"At this site the first Jewish cemetery in Michigan was established in 1848-49.  The Jews Society of Ann Arbor acquired burial rights to this land adjacent to what was then the public cemetery.  Several years earlier, immigrants from Germany and Austria had organized the first Jewish community in the state.  Their first religious services were held in the homes of the five Weil brothers in the vicinity of the family tannery, J. Weil and Brothers.  Members of the Jewish community participated in all aspects of the city’s life.  Jacob Weil served Ann Arbor as alderman from 1859 to 1861.  By the 1880s this original Jewish community no longer existed.  In 1900 the remains of those buried here were reinterred in Ann Arbor’s Forest Hill Cemetery.”

Located on the University of Michigan campus, on the corner of E. Huron and Fletcher streets (east lawn of Rackham Building), this marker describes Ann Arbor’s importance in the story of Michigan’s Jewish settlement. The first Jewish family to settle in the area were the Weils, five brothers and their father, who founded a successful tannery. As orthodox Jews, their homes became the headquarters for Jewish visitors and settlers. The brothers conducted the first minyanim in Michigan in 1845 in the home of Leopold Weil. Land for the cemetery was purchased sometime in 1848 or 1849. Records are unclear as to whom was first buried in the cemetery, but Edward Weil was interred in January 1853, and Frances Weil in September 1853.

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