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Congregation Shearith Israel / Book Club

April 27 @ 1:00 pm

Discussion lead by Angel Kosfiszer. No need to have read the book beforehand!

Sing Sing Prison opened in 1828, and since then, over 7,000 individuals of Jewish descent have served sentences in this renowned correctional facility. “The Jews of Sing Sing” is the first book to comprehensively reveal the extent of Jewish involvement in criminal activities spanning the past 150 years. Beyond infamous figures like Lepke Buchalter, numerous Jews engaged in a spectrum of crimes—from incest to arson to selling air rights over Manhattan—and subsequently found themselves incarcerated in Sing Sing. Upon discovering that his great-grandfather had served time in the famed Sing Sing prison, the author was initially surprised. This revelation sparked a journey to unravel more about his ancestor’s circumstances leading to imprisonment. What emerged was the realization that between 1880 and 1950, thousands of Jews had been incarcerated in Sing Sing. Upon learning that his great-grandfather’s birthplace was reported in three different locations, the author embarked on a decade-long quest that culminated in “The Jews of Sing Sing.” Having lost his parents and grandparents at a young age, Arons employed his sleuthing skills, leading him to an unexpected breakthrough in the Latter-Day Saints Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City. Delving deeper into these identities, Arons uncovered shocking information: his great-grandfather had emigrated to the United States, marrying two women simultaneously. This breach of justice resulted in a three-year sentence for bigamy in Ossining, New York. By meticulously piecing together various accounts, comparing wedding dates, and examining birth certificates, Arons discovered that Isaac Spier’s birthplace was recorded as London, England; Hanley, England; or New York. Further research disclosed Spier’s residences in various New York boroughs, as well as details about his wives and children.
Arons didn’t limit his investigation to his family tree; he also delved into the complex lives of other notorious Jewish gangsters who had served time at Sing Sing prison. The book’s structure cleverly presents chapters devoted to individual criminals, each page brimming with facts and captivating details about the gangsters and their interconnected relationships. While some names, like Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky, may be familiar, others, such as Benny Fein, Monk Eastman, and Irving Wexler, might be less recognized.

Details

Date:
April 27
Time:
1:00 pm
Event Categories:
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Website:
https://tockify.com/shearithisrael/detail/1608/1714240800000

Venue

Congregation Shearith Israel – Sardas Beit Midrash,9401 Douglas Ave, Dallas, TX 75225, USA