Jews Running Scams

I don’t think Jews are any more dishonest than other people, but I have found pockets of Jewish life (from secular to Orthodox) that are cool with running scams.

Jews who are the most invested in the greater society are the least likely to run such scams, but Jews who feel no connection to their Gentile nation have the least compunction about ripping off others.

I met a lot of secular Jews in the porn industry, many of them Israeli, who felt no loyalty to the wider society and this enabled them to make pornography with few qualms.

I’ve encountered some Orthodox Jews who similarly feel no connection to the wider Gentile society and thus they feel little compunction about ripping off the goyim.

Almost all Orthodox rabbis would condemn publicly this dishonesty but many would turn a blind eye to it privately. I think that Modern Orthodox Jews tend to feel more connection to the wider society than traditional Orthodox Jews and thus they may be less likely to run these scams. Modern Orthodox Jews tend to be in the professions like law, medicine, accounting, dentistry, etc and these professions have ethics codes and it is harder to run scams than when you are in business.

All of Pico-Robertson’s Modern Orthodox rabbis (from Kanefsky to Muskin to Topp) have high ethical standards and expect the same from their congregants, both in public and in private behavior. No Modern Orthodox rabbi in Pico-Robertson would give a private hechsher (permission) for cheating in business.

I suspect that running scams is more common in Hasidic life than in Modern Orthodox life. I’m not sure about the non-Hasidic traditional Orthodox. I suspect that the Lithuanian-style Orthodox are less likely to run scams than the Hasidim.

A mitnagdic Orthodox rabbi tells me: “That’s another reason for the scams — class differences. We tend to overlook these differences but they explain a lot of the behavioral differences, rather than religious beliefs. The upper class non-Chasidic Orthodox don’t push shady real estate deals.”

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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