Click to buy The Jews of Sing Sing

Nationally known scholar Ron Arons tells the true story of Jewish gangsters and other shady characters who served time “up the [Hudson] river” and the NY Jewish community’s response. Ron did not choose the book’s topic. Instead, it was beshert (the Jewish equivalent of the English word ‘fate,’ literally, ‘meant to be’).

Years ago Arons learned that one of his ancestors served a ‘stretch’ at the famous prison. Ron first wrote a manuscript about his criminal ancestor and his ancestor’s father, a rabbi who also found trouble, only to be told by the publishing world that “it did not need another memoir.” Thinking creatively out of the box one day, Ron decided to research and write a book about every Jew who was ever behind bars at the Big House. Little did Arons understand the enormity of the topic he would undertake, which until now has not been covered with any intellectual rigor. The result: a 350-page book providing biographies of more than a dozen famous gangsters and lesser-known criminals and painting a broad canvas of Jewish criminality in New York City.

Instead of simply relying on newspaper articles and previously published works, Ron took a genealogical approach, collecting a variety of original source documents — FBI files, court transcripts, vital records, census information, and prison admission records not only from Sing Sing, but also from other correctional facilities. This approach led to corrections of previous reports about some of the most famous criminals. The process also allowed Arons to explore many of these criminals' childhoods to try to understand why these characters went to the other side of the tracks.

The book is unique in another way – it provides statistics of about Jews who served time in Sing Sing, including the actual number incarcerated, the crimes they committed, and how they differed from their Irish and Italian counterparts.

Click to buy The Jews of Sing Sing

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