Guest Blog – NYC Mob Tour – All-Time Top 10 Jewish Mobsters


NYC Mob Tour picks the top 10 Jewish Mobsters of all time. The link is below.

10. Abe Reles aka “Kid Twist”

“The canary who could sing but couldn’t fly!” The papers called him after he was found splattered 15 stories below his suite in Coney Island’s Half Moon Hotel where he was supposed to be under federal protection. A suicide, a prank gone wrong, or most likely he was pushed by an agent on the take. Reles, a ruthless, cold blooded hitman (who allegedly adopted his nickname due to his talent and precision in wrapping a rope around his victims’ necks) ended up turning rat and gave testimony that sent a few members of his outfit to the electric chair.

9. Irving Wexler aka “Waxey Gordon”

Wexler developed the childhood nickname “Waxey” because his pick-pocketting was so smooth, he could lift a wallet “as if it were waxed.” A strike-breaker in the 1910’s and a bootlegger in the 1920’s, Gordon evolved with Organized Crime as one if it’s major movers and shakers, until the younger generation took control of the Mob after prohibition’s repeal. Arrested and sentenced to ten years for tax evasion, Gordon served his time and then tried going straight, telling journalists “Waxey Gordon is dead. Meet Irving Wexler, salesman.” That was until he was busted of selling heroin to an undercover police officer. At 62 years old, Gordon was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He died of a heart attack one year later.

8. “Dopey” Benny Fein

His eyes always half-closed due to a medical condition, Benjamin “Dopey Benny” Fein was a major figure in the growth of labor racketeering from the 1910’s through 1940’s. Organizing his own group of “Labor Sluggers” he’d rent out his muscle to either the workers or the companies, depending on who paid more. Arrested a total of thirty times, his last one in 1941 for armed robbery of a garment shipment finally netted him between ten and twenty years in prison. After which, Dopey disappeared completely from public record…

7. “Big Jack” Zelig

Inheritor of Monk Eastman’s “Eastman” gang, Zelig Harry Lefkwotiz became known as “Big Jack” for both his physical size and his prominence on the Lower East Side gang scene of the 1910’s. Notorious for breaking a man’s back over his knee over a two-dollar debt, his reputation for strength and resilience was magnified when he was shot through the neck by by an enemy “Five Points” gunman and survived. by 1912, he was in the pocket of notoriously corrupt police captain Charles Becker and agreed to stand trial and testify against the Captain, claiming he was hired by Becker to kill gambler and saloon owner Herman Rosenthal. Shortly after the trial, Zelig got a bullet behind his ear and Becker got the chair.

6. Abner “Longy” Zwillman

Called “The Al Capone of New Jersey” Zwillman, a native of Newark quit school at the tender age of fourteen to support his family. Realizing that selling lottery tickets to bored housewives pulled in a lot more money than selling vegetables from a pushcart, by 1920, he was running the numbers racket of North Jersey. During prohibition, he smuggled thousands of crates of Canadian whiskey into New Jersey using WWI armored trucks. Smart, savvy, and a charming ladies man, Zwillman tried to wash away his gangster image with thousands of dollars donated to charity and even hints into the whereabouts of the Lindbergh baby. In 1959, when he was issued a subpoena by the McClellan Senate hearings, he was found hanged in his home. The bruises on his wrists indicated a struggle before his death… Someone was afraid that Longy might talk.

5. Arthur Fleggenheimer aka “Dutch Schultz”

Cause no one would ever be scared of a guy called Fleggenheimer, Dutch Schultz rose to notoriety as the beer baron of the Bronx and after Prohibition’s repeal, strong-arming the numbers racket out of the hands of black gangsters in Harlem. brash and hot-headed, when he came under investigation by U.S. Prosecutor Thomas Dewey, he planned a hit on Dewey, rejecting the pleas of the other major heads of Mob organizations that he not to hit such a high profile target, Schultz himself became the target of a mob hit, getting gunned down in a restaurant bathroom in New Jersey
Surviving in the hospital for three days in a fever state, his rants were jotted down by crime reporters, hoping for an insight into the inner workings of the Mob. In the end: it was all meshugennah. (Crazy)

4. Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel

Called “Bugsy” because his short temper lead friends and enemies to think he had “bugs in the head,” Ben Siegel was a suave, seductive charmer and the surface and an impulse driven sociopath underneath. Many historians believe that Ben was one of the trigger men to assassinate the two major Sicilian Boses of the 1920’s, giving rise to a completely independent Crime Syndicate here in the United States. Sent over to Los Angeles to take control of the heavily mismanaged crime rackets of the West Coast, he fell in love with Hollywood glitz and glamor
A brief stopover in Las Vegas, Nevada gave him the vision of a multi-million dollar hotel/casino resort. After sinking way more money into the vision than he ever planned, he was gunned down in his girlfriend’s home, never living to see Vegas become the gambling goldmine it is today.

3. Meyer Lansky

Sometimes called the Brains of the Mob or the Mob’s Accountant, Lansky was strictly business. Never flashy, hot-headed, or vengeful, Lansky’s greatest assets were his financial wizardry and his cool, logical way of assessing problems. A right hand man to Charles “Lucky” Luciano, official Chairman of the Mob Syndicate, Lansky focussed most of his attention toward the hotel and casino industry shying away from the much riskier and dirty businesses of drugs and prostitution
Followed by the Feds for decades, Lansky chose to live out his retirement in Israel where he wouldn’t be harassed by the government. In the end, he was refused Israel’s “right of return” for all Jews because of his criminal past and he died in Miami Beach at 83, of natural causes.

2. Louis “Lepke” Buchalter
Lepke being Yiddish for “my little Louis,” Buchalter was anything but “little” in the world of the crime. Along with Italian gangster Albert Anastasia, Lepke founded “Murder, Inc.” Brooklyn’s notorious collection of stone-cold professional hitmen, Buchalter invented the contract kill, and was paid handsomely for it. He was also the only Jewish Mobster to have full control of a major industry in New York: The Garment District (taken over by the Mafia Families after Lepke’s downfall) One of the major targets of Thomas Dewey’s Mob investigations, Lepke went into hiding for almost two years until worn out and exhuasted, he gave himself up as part of a plea bargain.
As a cautionary tale to other mobsters, never trust a fed when he says he’ll give you a fair shake: In 1944, Lepke became the only head of a major Mob organization to get the death penalty.

1. Arnold Rothstein

The true “Godfather” of Organized Crime, Arnold Rothstein was the only major figure to come into the Gangster life from the wealthier circles of New York. Smart, sophisticated, cool and collected, not only did Rothstein teach the young ‘hoods who would one day control crime in the United States how to dress and speak like gentlemen, he also organized the most efficient liquor routes into the U.S. during prohobition, founded the country’s first major heroin smuggling operation, and gained a reputation as the greatest gambler in American history, notoriously paying off eight Chicago White Sox players to throw the 1919 world series game. As visionary as Rothstein was, he met a gangsters end when he allegedly refused to pay a $300,000 gambling debt and then was allegedly shot by the angry creditor. We don’t know for sure. Lasting for half a day with a bullet in his gut, Rothstein refused to name his shooter.


2 Responses to “Guest Blog – NYC Mob Tour – All-Time Top 10 Jewish Mobsters”

  1. For an intriguing take on Meyer Lansky, his relationship to the the Mob, and alleged “accountant” personality, check out The Devil Himself, a new novel by Eric Dezenhall, being released this week by St.Martin’s Press. Mr. Dezenhall will be making the rounds at book signings and interviews; for schedule and venues, check out

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