Perhaps the greatest influence on the “Jewishness” of these men were their mothers. Many of the major Jewish mobsters, including Meyer Lansky, Dutch Schultz, Lepke Buchalter, Longy Zwillman, and Mickey Cohen, as well as those I interviewed, revered their mothers. Family and friends recounted to me how these men doted on their mothers and treated them with utmost kindness and respect. In the 1979 book Meyer Lansky: Mogul of the Mob, Lansky told Israeli journalist Uri Dan how his mother “hated to see us go hungry, and she was always ready to give us her share because, like every Jewish mother in the neighborhood, she gladly sacrificed herself for her children.” These mens’ relationship with their fathers was more problematic. Part of this resulted from the fathers never reconciling to their sons’ criminal way of life.
Jewish mothers sacrificed for their children, but they expected something in return. One of…
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