The Gentle Gentile: Local Catholic Man Volunteers His Time To Fix Up Jewish Cemetery
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s an overrun, seemingly neglected Jewish cemetery in Ozone Park owned by an Upper East Side congregation, Shaare Zedek.
In the midst of finger pointing and outrage the cemetery has quietly been getting some much needed assistance from a most unusual source.
“I’m just trying to give these people some dignity back,” Anthony Pisciotta told CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport on Tuesday.
At the Bayside Cemetery you can often find Pisciotta, a decidedly Catholic, Metropolitan Transportation Authority bridge and tunnel worker, pulling weeds, cleaning debris and righting headstones.
Pisciotta doesn’t get paid to do this. He does it on his own time. No one asked him to do it, but when Rapoport asked why he chose to help out this Jewish cemetery, he just laughed.
“It needed it,” Pisciotta said.
He added does it because it’s the right thing to do.
“I feel like it’s our duty as human beings to look after people who can’t look after themselves,” Pisciotta said.
He said that over the last few decades conditions at the cemetery have fallen into grave disrepair, including toppled headstones and overgrown weeds, and that’s just for starters.
“Extensive vandalism, desecration, all sorts of stuff,” Pisciotta said.
Pisciotta said when he heard about it he felt he had to help. So for the last two years, once every week or two, he’s been laboring to help clean up and restore with religious conviction.
It’s an endless effort.
“A lot’s been done, but a lot needs to be done here,” Pisciotta said.
He’s a guardian angle of this scared ground.
“It’s just my thing. I like to try to make things nicer than they were,” Pisciotta said.
He’s a gentle gentile doing a mitzvah, a good deed.
Pisciotta said his efforts at the cemetery are sometimes a family affair. From time to time his two children join him in the clean up.
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