Re: Bayside Cemetery and Acacia Cemetery, Queens

Ira Leviton

I have several things to add to Andy Monat's detailed message about Bayside and Acacia cemeteries,

Several months ago Shaare Zedek erected a chain link fence at between Bayside and Acacia.  It's no longer possible to go directly between the two cemeteries, including for those societies that had plots adjacent to each other, such as for the society that I tend.  If you are considering visiting Bayside and used to enter through Acacia, you can't do that anymore, and Bayside is open only on Wednesdays from 8AM to noon and Sundays from 9AM to 1PM.  (Andy said that he was there in the fall of 2019, so the fence must have been put in place very shortly after his visit.)  In some instances where the border between the two cemeteries was not clear, graves at the border of the cemeteries may have wound up on the wrong side of the fence - this is pretty obvious when looking because the fence is not straight as it should have been, but zig-zags around graves.  Additionally, in some instances, it seems that stones have been pushed aside when the fence was put in place.

On the north side of Bayside Cemetery (i.e., Liberty Avenue), the old iron fence has been removed and a chain link fence has been put in place there.  However, it looks like it's temporary - and I sure hope so because the last row of graves is now *outside* the fence.  For the time being, anybody walking on Liberty Avenue alongside the portion of the cemetery that is at street level can... well, I'll just say that it's practically begging for vandalism because there is absolutely nothing between the sidewalk and the last row of graves, and there has been plenty of vandalism in Bayside over the last few decades.

There is a fence between Bayside and Mokom Sholom cemeteries, and as far as I know, always has been, although it may be hidden by trees and bushes.

As long as the trees are present in Bayside, it will look more like a forest than a cemetery.  Since there was no maintenance in Bayside for decades, hundreds of those trees are many stories tall, and taking them down is a very difficult proposition.  I'm not an expert, but these trees can't simply be chopped down because of the surrounding gravestones - they have to be climbed and cut down in small sections.  As far as I can tell, this would cost millions to do and there is no plan for it.  So Bayside will continue to resemble a forest, although Acacia, right next to it, is well maintained.

And finally, don't let Shaare Zedek's web page of frequently asked questions and information about Bayside fool you - just like in any other cemetery, the organizations and societies that have plots in Bayside do not own the land and have never been responsible for maintenance.  The deplorable condition of Bayside happened under Shaare Zedek's care, or lack of it.  They own the cemetery and are completely responsible for it, and have simply been avoiding that responsibility for decades.  Now that they have received millions of dollars for selling their synagogue building, I hope that they use it to do right for the people who are buried on their land.

Ira Leviton

New York, N.Y.

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