Gangster Jews and the bid to defy weakness

Brad A. Greenberg writes:

A few weeks ago, I finished reading "Blood Relation," Eric Konigsberg’s fascinating account of the mobster life of Uncle Heshy. The author’s family was Jewish, so the murdering and racketeering of his uncle, Harold "Kayo" Konigsberg, was sort of frowned upon.

But, then again, Jewish mobsters have always had a taboo appeal — think Murder Inc., Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky.

…Anyway, the LA Daily News ran a story today from the Chronicles of Jewish mobsters.

Only, this one, written by Tony Castro (Luke Ford’s source on the Mayor Villaraigosa marriage split), is about a gangster who survived the Holocaust before getting caught up in organized crime.

"Spielberg! You’ve got to get me Spielberg!" Paul Gelb slurred as he bit off the words with the insistence of a Hollywood studio head.

"Spielberg has to come here. If he’s a good Jew, he’ll come here to see me. Do you know if he speaks Yiddish?

"And I need to talk to a rabbi. I’d like that. But a rabbi who speaks Yiddish.

"I need to see both of them before I die, … and I’m dying."

But then, Gelb, 83, has been dying since he was 15 and was sent to a series of Nazi concentration camps with his family.

He survived the Holocaust, which is why he is so insistent this day on seeing director Steven Spielberg, who has created an archive of living testimony of survivors in the wake of his Oscar-winning film "Schindler’s List."


About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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