The Shmooze

A Jewish Mob Tour

By Josh Tapper

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Max “Kid Twist” Zwerbach, “Big” Jack Zelig, Monk Eastman. These aren’t the Jewish historical figures you study in Hebrew school.

All three were notorious gangsters from the early-20th-century ramshackle days of the Lower East Side. And now they’re being commemorated in the “Jewish Mob Walking Tour,” organized by the Museum of the American Gangster in New York.

Currently in previews, the tour — which gives the Forward a shout out for its influential role in the Jewish community — takes participants to a slew of sordid locales, including shootout and assassination sites. It’s not all blood and bullets, though. Curated with the help of crime authors like Patrick Downey, author of “Gangster City,” the tour hopes to contextualize the Jewish mob within the broader Jewish immigrant experience — not all enterprise was good enterprise.


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