Jewish Gangsters


In the 1999 book Tough Jews, former Rolling Stone editor Rich Cohen profiled Jewish gangsters, from Murder, Inc. to a hit man who wouldn’t kill on the Sabbath. The new website–a self-proclaimed “Internet index of tough Jews”–is built from similar stock and is literally crawling with every sort of tough Jew.

The site is broken up into half a dozen categories. “Adventurers,” “Spies,” and “Criminals” all make sense here. But J-Grit isn’t only a tribute to notorious Semites–the “Public Servants” category includes Jewish firefighters who died in 9/11, as well as the first Jewish chief of detectives for the NYPD (“cigar-chomping, tough, and flamboyant,” as described by the site).

And just in case you’re worried that these honorable characters make Jews look like law-abiding softies, the “Criminals” section features such undesirables as Bugsy Siegel and Max “Kid Twist” Zweifach, the leader of the notorious Monk Eastman gang.

J-Grit is a glimpse into some rough chapters of Jewish history, exposing a sometimes troubled and always tough underbelly–but one that we get to witness, safely, from the distance of the Internet.

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