NY – In response to ongoing complaints about the state of affairs at Brooklyn’s Washington Cemetery, Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) and his staff conducted a month-long survey of the cemetery this past summer. Throughout his career, Hikind has regularly been involved in issues pertaining to Washington Cemetery.
Established in 1860, Washington Cemetery is Brooklyn’s largest Jewish cemetery, and is located at 5820 Bay Parkway. The cemetery encompasses 110 acres and is said to contain over 100,000 graves. The study revealed that although 400 headstones were found to be toppled or otherwise vandalized, the bulk of the headstones were largely undamaged.
“There was a great concern that the cemetery had fallen into a terrible state of disrepair, especially after last December’s blizzard,” Hikind said. “At the start of our investigation, we expected to find tremendous devastation. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that although there was evidence of vandalism and destruction, the percentage was not as significant as we had expected it might be. While even one toppled headstone is too many, the situation could have been a lot worse.” Hikind also noted that because some decedents were interred at the cemetery as early as 1860, many do not have any living relatives to ensure the upkeep of their graves and monuments.
Richard Fishman, Director of the New York State Division of Cemeteries, has notified Hikind that the City will pay $100,000 to repair the outer fence of the cemetery which was damaged by Sanitation workers who piled mounds of snow against it during last year’s blizzard. The sheer weight of the snow had caused the fence to collapse and topple adjacent headstones.
An additional $50,000 will be allocated by the State’s Monument Maintenance Fund to restore the damaged or defaced headstones located throughout the cemetery. The necessary work to refurbish the broken headstones is currently underway.