The Gentle Gentile: Local Catholic Man Volunteers His Time To Fix Up Jewish Cemetery


anthony-pisciottaIt’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.

Source: CBS 2

{ Newscenter}


  1. Bs”D Mr. Pisciotta – you are angel in human clothing. G-d loves you so much. It’s true that those that passed away can’t help themselves and that their dignity is compromised. You are one special human being – and your children too, who help you, are special. You are brightening your corner of the world down here and up in the heavens. G-d bless you and keep you well.

  2. ya know we jews ought to learn lesson from this and remember that the whole torah and why it was given to us is to help us do everything in life like this fellow said “its the right thing to do”!!! see ramban on vasisa hayashar vahotov in v eschanan…. and more sources as well. we are sad and unfortunate if all we walk away from this is oh how cute a gentile doing a mitzvah!! “) an besides jew gentile if we open our eyes are doing right thing all over…

  3. why is this called most unusual source? as if to give attention just to goy and jew aspect.. when instead it can be used as inspiring us jews to make sure torah has us doing the right thing as this man said why he was doing it… just a suggestion, not criticism,,, and of course thank you matzav for story

  4. It’s interesting that, although he is indeed a gentile, he does have a Jewish grandparent–his father’s mom. Though that fact isn’t in this article, it was reported in the Jewish Week.

  5. While I commend this wonderful man, why does our community neglect such issues. There are many young healthy men who can take some time for tzorchei tzibur and chesed shel emes.

  6. I recently found out that my grandparents are buried in a cemetery not too far from my home. Upon my first visit, I saw that no one has been maintaining the gravesite. I, together with my husband, go every few weeks during spring/summer and bring our lawn mower and edger and care not only my grandparents’ graves but all their neighbors nearby that need it. The feeling is beyond rewarding. No one even knows we do it. No one sees; I’m assuming no one even comes to visit. But I know that they are smiling down on me and that’s what keeps me going back for more.

  7. Moshe,

    Fantastic idea. When are you going to be there so that others can join you? Can you arrange rides ? Will you bring equipment? Let us know.

    Thanks. You too can be an askan, not just a silly old commenter.