Bayside Cemetery and Acacia Cemetery, Queens


Andy Monat
 

Bayside Cemetery in Queens, New York has been much discussed on this mailing list over the years, but there do not appear to have been any updates from people who have visited it recently. Since I visited in fall of 2019, I thought I would share what I learned which was not clear to me from the numerous news stories which can be found online. I have no affiliation with any of these cemeteries.

Bayside is operated by Congregation Shaare Zedek. Their web site http://www.sznyc.org has information about the cemetery; see especially http://www.sznyc.org/frequently-asked-questions-bayside-cemetery. That page also lists their email address office@.... When I wrote that email address, I received a reply including a map of the cemetery including the names of the burial societies, which proved very useful; that map was basically identical to the one at http://www.baysidecemeterylitigation.com/uploads/BaysideCemetery-Map-WWW.pdf. I also asked them about specific names of people I knew were buried there, and the office staff kindly searched the records. Their information is limited, but they did find some of the people I asked about.

Bayside is part of the same complex as two other cemeteries, bounded by 80th St on the west, 84th St on the east, Liberty Ave on the north, and Pitkin Ave on the south. The western part of the complex is Mokom Shalom cemetery, which I did not research. The central part is Bayside. The eastern part is Acacia cemetery. The exterior of the complex is enclosed by metal fences, but as far as I could tell there were no fences between the different cemeteries. Not only is there nothing preventing you from walking from Acacia into Bayside, it might not even be obvious to you that you have done so.

The area was industrial on the north side and residential on the east and west sides. It seemed perfectly safe to us.

I was interested in burials in both Acacia and Bayside. My relatives and I parked on Liberty Ave, near the Acacia entrance. Note that the elevated A train of the New York City Subway runs above Liberty Ave. The entrance gate is through the center of a two-story building which must have formerly been the Acacia office; now there are no on-site office staff, but a call to their phone number which I found on Google Maps and FindAGrave (718-845-9240) reached staff located elsewhere who were able to look up burials in Acacia and tell me which section they would be found in.

I had brought a hand-drawn map passed down to me by a distant relative, made at least a few decades ago. It listed certain things that clearly matched the map of Bayside, once I was able to decipher the handwriting, such as Liberty Ave, Pitkin Ave, Acacia, various gate numbers, "restrooms" (just inside the Acadia entrance; these are no longer operational but there were portable toilets nearby), names of relatives buried there, and then some names I didn't recognize like Moe Levy. These last turned out to be landmarks - they were names on large mausoleums, which make for easy navigation as they can be spotted from some distance away.

A relative who came with me had found and brought photographs from the 1970s of my elderly great-grandmother and her siblings visiting the cemetery, including photos of them standing at their mother's grave. The old photos of their mother Sara Scheinzeit's grave were especially helpful, since they made clear it can be seen from outside the cemetery, on the sidewalk! (See my current-day photos of it at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/128107217/chaya-sarah-scheinzeit and note the fence is the exterior cemetery fence; you'll also find other relatives linked from that page.)

After entering via the Acacia gate, we quickly found graves of relatives in Acacia's Mariam Polen section, near the north fence. Following the old hand-drawn map, we walked west a hundred feet or so and were in Bayside, where we saw Sara Scheinzeit's grave from the other side. That and the other parts of Bayside we visited were in much better shape than I had expected. There was some broken glass just inside the fence, but most of the graves we saw were upright and not overgrown with trees or other plants. The ones made of hard stone were perfectly legible, though some gates were made of soft stone which has weathered as is typical, and parts of them were illegible.

In Bayside, we visited gate 44 (Mariam Polen Congregation; same society as we visited in Acacia), and gate 74 (Congregation Kol Israel Anshi Polen Swalk No. 1). We found graves for people with the surnames SCHEINZEIT, SCHONZEIT, DUBERSTEIN, and SCHNEIDER.

I would be happy to try to answer questions from people who have them, though this email contains most of what I know about Bayside and Acacia.

Andy Monat
Massachusetts, USA

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